Religious, Stubborn and Confident: Egypt’s Islamists Power Through Resistance
Two worlds are colliding in Egypt. While President Morsi wants to force through an Islamist constitution, the secular opposition is holding massive demonstrations in protest. Both sides are unwilling to compromise, and the frustration could spill out into violence on the streets.
Mahalla el-Kobra, a working-class city two hours north of Cairo, likes to think of itself as the birthplace of the Egyptian Revolution. Already in 2008, despair and rising food prices had driven its enraged residents into the streets. That marked the beginning of the “April 6” youth movement that would later join those fighting for more rights at the capital’s Tahrir Square.
The first thing ones comes upon these days along the road to Mahalla el-Kobra is a giant billboard bearing the face of a kindly smiling Mohammed Morsi and “The President of Egypt” in large letters. The main street continues to be lined with banners of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. The only signs of the “April 6” youth movement are its logo, a balled up fist, spray-painted on the walls.
The Islamists’ office is not far from the city’s main square. Standing outside in a somewhat well-worn, beige suit is Hassan Saif Abdel-Fatah, a 48-year-old member of the Brotherhood. He is surveying the damage the office sustained on Tuesday evening, when a few hundred angry youths pelted it with stones and Molotov cocktails. The front door’s glass panel has been shattered, there are scorch marks on the wall, and a tear runs through one of the Brotherhood’s banners.
“I don’t understand it,” Abdel-Fatah says. “The Morsi opponents previously said that they want revolutionary decisions, but now they’re against them. I don’t understand it.”
The Muslim Brotherhood shows no signs of comprehending why there is a surge of resistance to them throughout Egypt. They cannot fathom why part of the population is outraged over what they say was a power grab.