Mohammad Mursi’s opponents have won the numbers game, but what next?

July 4th, 2013

Published on Intrepid Report, by Linda S. Heard, July 2, 2013.

June 30, 2013, marking one year of Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi’s presidency, was hyped by the opposition as a game changer. However, even the most optimistic could not have predicted the mass turnout in cities all over the country. Millions of Egyptians took to the streets of 25 of the country’s 27 governorates to vent their discontent, taking liberal local TV anchors, who for months have been calling for people to get off their sofas, by surprise … //

… Either we win or we die:

It will be wrong to say Mursi is devoid of supporters. Muslim Brotherhood diehards and their affiliates in other Islamist parties, such as Jamaa Islamiya, are gearing up for a fight to the death to keep him in office. They have formed armed militias, pictured training in guerilla warfare—and, on Sunday, police announced the seizure of van-loads of weapons from militants travelling along the desert highway linking Cairo with Alexandria. Further, there were reports of violent clashes away from the capital in which several were killed and hundreds wounded.

Around 300,000 of Mursi’s backers were also out in force on June 30, attending a rival rally within walking distance of the president’s Al Ittihadiya palace, that later in the day was besieged by hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters. Unlike the almost carnival atmosphere elsewhere, some of those who rallied for Mursi carried shrouds and shouted “either we win or we die,” others wielding batons were helmeted in preparation for battle. Their memories still fresh from decades of imprisonment and torture, some are fearful of being once more vilified as outcasts.

Others are ideologically opposed to a secularist society and have slurred fellow Muslims with the tag “kafir,” a derogatory word that translates to “infidel.” There were concerns that if anti-regime demonstrators attempted to storm the palace, the Mursi camp would rush to its defence, igniting a civil war.

Opposition rally organisers insist the people will remain in the nation’s squares until the president resigns. But that is a tall order, particularly in the midst of summer and when the majority have jobs and familial responsibilities. Mursi’s advisers are counting on the protests fizzling out over the coming ten days, leading up to Ramadan.

The key question is whether the all-powerful military—the self-appointed defenders of the people and state institutions—will grab power in response to calls from tens of thousands gathered outside the Ministry of Defence, shouting: “The army and the people, one hand.”

A better alternative will be a government of national unity made up of figures from all sides of the political spectrum and technocrats. However, as long as an acrid stench of antipathy bordering on hatred pollutes the air, that most sensible of options is fading fast.
(full text).

(Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email here).

Links:

Al Jazeera, other TV stations forced off air in Egypt, on Russia Today RT, July 4, 2013;

‘Game Over’: Morsi ousted, constitution suspended, army in control (PHOTOS, VIDEO), on Russia Today RT, July 3, 2013;

Crisis in Egypt: Morsi at Precipice after Disastrous Year, on Spiegel Online International, by Daniel Steinvorth, July 02, 2013 (Photo Gallery): Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been in office for a year now, and the results are dire. Violence prevails and the economy stands on the brink of collapse. Now he is faced with an ultimatum …;

Biggest protest in Egypt’s history: LIVE UPDATES, on Russia  Today  RT, June 30, 2013.

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