Having just returned from a week in Cairo, I can say this – Egyptians, as a whole, are considerably happier now and more anxious to move on then they have been in several years.
I walked through Tahrir Square, the Suk, and several parts of Cairo. Went to the Kasr el Dobara Church during services. Never felt threatened or unsafe. Did see a “scheduled” (and I believe permitted) Muslim Brotherhood demonstration – handled appropriately (and nonviolently) by the Egyptian law enforcement authorities. Virtually all whom I came in contact with – on the street, in taxis, stores, hotels, etc – were ecstatic to see an American and opened their arms to me. A universal comment was this – “you are safe here – why aren’t more coming?”
Now Cairo is a huge city, and like any other, has parts that you probably wouldn’t walk at 2 AM in the morning (like DC, no?). But I felt safer there then in many of the other major cities I’ve either lived in or visited.
Why do Egyptians feel better now than two years ago? Because the Muslim Brotherhood, who ruthlessly ruled the country until July, is on the run.
While in charge, the MB stood idly by as churches were burned. They oppressed women and lavishly spent billions.
The Egyptians had enough, and called on Gen al-Sisi to rid them of this menace. Now the MB’s reaction, despite multiple overtures to involve them in the government and constitutional process, is to terrorize. The response from the interim government is to outlaw them and enforce law and order. In this respect, the MB is as bad as al Qaeda, Hamas, or the Taliban – Egypt was right to try and stop this violence.
A great description of what has been happening in Egypt was written in this mornings Wall Street Journal by Dina Khayat (an Egyptian business women). She notes:
The Brotherhood has fallen far since 13 million Egyptians voted its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, into the presidency in June 2012. Since Mr. Morsi’s ouster amid protests last summer, support for the Islamist group has continued to plunge and is estimated today to be down to a core base of about 500,000 people in a country of 90 million. The drastic drop in affection for the Brotherhood speaks volumes about their singular ineptitude during Mr. Morsi’s year in office and their continued refusal to accept Egypt’s current realities.
She went on to say:
Now, for the first time in the Muslim Brotherhood’s 80-year history, the group’s struggle is not primarily with the state. During the Mubarak years, when the Brotherhood was banned and its leaders regularly detained, the majority of Egyptians sympathized with them as underdogs. These days, the Brotherhood’s quarrel is with the average Egyptian citizen and the very people who once rooted for them. Cairo’s move to outlaw the Brotherhood is indeed part of a crackdown, but one that was demanded by the public.
It is important that the Brotherhood rejoin the political process as soon as possible – but THEY have to reject violence and choose the path of inclusion.