News / Middle East

Egypt Power Struggle Leaves Some Morsi Supporters Vulnerable

FILE - Cairo University students who support the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans against the military and Interior Ministry in front of riot police at the main gate of the university, Cairo, Nov. 24, 2013.
FILE - Cairo University students who support the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans against the military and Interior Ministry in front of riot police at the main gate of the university, Cairo, Nov. 24, 2013.
Youssof Salhen is much like any other college student. In his third year of studies at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, Youssof is looking forward to graduation, after which he hopes to become an interpreter.
 
But these days, his future is not so clear. Like many citizens who support deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, the 21 year-old student said he, and others, are fearful of being caught up in the power struggle between the military and Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Youssof said dozens of his friends have been detained - and several killed - as a result of their protests against Morsi's ouster by the military.
 
"My friends are under graves and behind bars," he told VOA by telephone. "And I'm often in search of medicine for some of my friends who have been tortured in coup prisons."
 
Youssof is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the military-led government recently declared a terrorist group. But, as a spokesman for the Student Anti-Coup Movement, he believes he could be targeted.
 
He insists he does not mind.
 
"It doesn't change anything," he said. "We're doing what we're doing because we believe it's a revolution, and we're not going to stop until we reach freedom, dignity and justice."
 
The Student Anti-Coup Movement was formed during a weeks-long sit-in that was eventually dispersed by security forces in August.
 
Up to a thousand people died in the break-up of the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest, which several rights groups described as one of the worst mass killings in Egypt's modern history.
 
Military seeking to 'preserve privileges'
 
The power struggle between the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood continues as Morsi faces trial in February for allegedly inciting the killing of protesters in 2012.
 
The military's crackdown on the Brotherhood has been fierce. Many Egyptians who support Morsi are fearful of being caught up in the political violence.
 
Egypt's army removed him from power in July after opposition protests accusing him of trying to monopolize power. Since then, thousands of Brotherhood members and supporters have been arrested and hundreds have been killed, many during street clashes with police.
 
Late last month, the Ministry of Interior threatened a prison sentence of five years for anyone who participates in a pro-Brotherhood protest, but also for anyone who supports the group verbally or in writing.
 
Analysts think such measures are an effort by Egypt's military generals to both preserve their rule and impose stability on a country that has dealt with three years of protests and is now seeing a rising wave of Islamist violence.
 
"They want to preserve their privileges, their autonomy, to make sure there's no civilian oversight. And the biggest opposition to the military has always been the Brotherhood," said Australia-based Egypt analyst Amro Ali.
 
One reason the military has been able to come down so hard on the Brotherhood is that many Egyptians see the group as responsible for the country's instability, according to Ali. But Ali doubts that blaming the Brotherhood can be a successful strategy in the long term.
 
"Imprisoning people just doesn't crush ideas and stop movements. In fact… Morsi's popularity has been rising, even more than when he was in power," Ali told VOA.
 
Brotherhood denies involvement in terror attacks
 
Still, anti-Brotherhood sentiment is growing among many Egyptians, particularly after the military blamed the group for last month's attack on a security directorate in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura that killed 16 people.
 
The Brotherhood strongly denies staging any violent attacks, maintaing that it is committed to peaceful resistance. The military has so far provided no evidence of the group's involvement in the Mansoura bombing.
 
It is difficult to confirm whether fringe elements of the Brotherhood are bent on violent jihad, but Adel Abdel Ghafar, an Egyptian researcher at the Australian National University, told VOA that the group could eventually turn to violence, as it did in the 1960s.
 
"The main core of the Muslim Brotherhood still believes in democracy and so on, but there's nothing to say that some of their followers, especially the people who had some of their family killed, would not get more violent," he said. "I would expect that, actually."
 
Commitment to non-violence appears difficult
 
Back on the frontline of the protests, Youssof Salhen agreed that it is difficult to convince his fellow activists, many whose friends and family have been killed, to stay committed to non-violence.
 
"There are [a] few… youth[s] who are about to give up peacefulness," he said. "And we are trying to remind them, and remind ourselves the whole time, that peacefulness is our only powerful weapon."
 
As analysts point out, both sides now view each other as an existential threat and are thus unlikely to back down, meaning there is no end in sight for Egypt's political deadlock.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs