The news that Marshall Sisi announced his intention to run for president overshadowed an otherwise tense ten days.
On the eve of the third anniversary of the referendum on the first constitutional amendment following January 2011 uprising, the Moslem Brotherhood called for demonstrations. Their English Ikhwanweb page called for ‘peaceful, creative resistance’ beginning March 19, ‘in a fresh escalation of [the] revolt’ that they declared was to last until April 1.
The next day, I contemplated the 30-mile drive from my suburban home to my downtown office with dread. The demonstrations, I knew, would be anything but peaceful. As it turned out, 10 people died that day, including two police officers. Traffic was worse than the usual snail-pace crawl in mid-town Cairo. The Moslem Brotherhood students were demonstrating at Al Azhar University, where they raised the Al Qaeda flag.
A few days later the Brotherhood called for another day of escalation. Demonstrations erupted in Cairo and the provinces. Another day of counting the dead. These included a journalist, a Coptic woman in her car because the cross was hanging from the rear-view mirror, a man who had a poster of Sisi in his car.
Tragically, and since June 30, these events have been so frequent, that Egyptians have become inured to numbers that a few years ago would have been utterly unthinkable.
One evening, I was walking the dogs with one of my house staff who had just come back from leave in Sharkiya, Mohamed Morsi’s hometown province and a previous Moslem Brotherhood stronghold.
The events of the past three years have intensified political awareness in Egyptians at all levels. Daily news is followed closely and analyzed, while political talk shows have now surpassed movies and light shows in terms of viewership. Everyone has an opinion.
Mohamed voted for Morsi, in the last presidential elections in 2012. And now he will vote for Sisi. For him, the announcement of Sisi’s candidacy marked a new beginning.
“I will always be poor. I know that. But Sisi will make sure my family is safe. My wife will no longer have to sleep near our livestock to keep them from stolen. Mubarak’s years were marked by corruption, but we could still make a living. Please don’t talk to me about democracy. Democracy is for people like you; it means nothing to me. I voted for Morsi and the Brotherhood because I thought they were men of God. But they turned out ten times worse. At the local government level, the Brotherhood placed their cronies. Never in our lives, have we been so ill-treated. If we were not Brotherhood members, we could neither get services – at any price – nor even common civility out of these people. And look at them now. Normally just a two-hour drive from my village, my trip back took over seven hours because of the demonstrations. We have all had enough of turbulence and lawlessness. ”
Any other stories from your trip back, I asked.
“Yes”, he said. “You know how everyone discusses politics these days. The bus driver on the way back was telling us not to be too hard on the US and their support of the Brotherhood. They are Christian, but good people, he said. As one, we all pounced on him. The driver had to be a member of the Brotherhood. For us, America and the Brotherhood are one. Do you remember in 2012 when Brotherhood demonstrators scaled the US Embassy walls and planted the Al Qaeda flag? Did Obama cut off aid to Morsi then? No. Does his embassy not see what we are living through here these days? ”
I was shocked – and saddened – by the statement and I obviously do not agree. But I do have one question for the Americans. After countless violent demonstrations, torched campuses and over 1000 civilian as well as army and police officers dead, when will the Congress and the Administration follow the example of the United Kingdom and examine the realities the Brotherhood is doing in Egypt to Egyptians?
Dina Khayat is Chairman of Madar Capital, an asset management company established in 2011 and head of the economic committee of the Free Egyptians Party, a political party founded after the 2011 revolution..
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