News / Middle East

    Behind Cairo Barricades, Morsi Supporters Make Most of Camp Life

    Children of supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi jump on a trampoline in a makeshift funfair in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, August 11, 2013.
    Children of supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi jump on a trampoline in a makeshift funfair in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, August 11, 2013.
    Reuters
    Children have water fights in the sun while ice cream and soft drink vendors do a roaring trade. The protest camps at the heart of Egypt's political crisis feel more like a village fair than a bastion of resistance to military-backed rule.
     
    The thousands of supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, camped out for more than six weeks, know they could soon face a violent eviction, but most seem to be enjoying the sense of community rather than worrying about how the party might end.
     
    “We play football, we play ping-pong, we just don't want to get bored. We want this to be a happy atmosphere,” said Talaat Mahmoud, 32, an interior designer who joined protesters around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the biggest of two camps to spring up in Cairo.
     
    The camps are the last political card in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has seen its leaders jailed and their assets frozen since the army toppled Morsi on July 3 after mass protests against his rule.

    Making the best of it

    The protesters have sworn to stay until he is reinstated. Aside from defiant rhetoric and calls for holy war, most seem to be having a good time while the camps expand every day.
     
    While elsewhere in the city Morsi supporters were fighting their opponents and being hit with police teargas on Tuesday, at the Rabaa camp, boys ran around with water dispensers strapped to their backs, spraying people and laughing.
     
    Despite the Muslim Brotherhood members standing guard with sticks near sandbags or piles of rock, everyone in the camps knows that security forces will have overwhelming firepower if they do decide to force them out.
     
    Until then, life goes on at the gatherings, where electricity cables reach most tents. Vendors sell pocket-sized Korans, hairbrushes and plastic toys and a field pharmacy offers antibiotics, eye drops and other medicines for free.
     
    “We have the army on our doorstep, but there are no weapons here,” said Salah Mahmoud, 42, as he cheered on young boys playing ping-pong at Rabaa, the biggest camp.
     
    Local media have reported that government forces had bolstered security around the camps to prevent weapons from getting in.
     
    Fearing a bloodbath
     
    Over 300 people have died in political violence since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi toppled Morsi.
     
    Fearing a bloodbath, Western envoys and some senior members of the interim government have urged the military to avoid using force to disperse the camps, where ice cream vendors and food and clothes stalls line the streets.
     
    The sites have become highly organized communities. Men read the Koran, discuss politics or crack jokes in tents, surrounded by posters of those killed by police and considered martyrs.
     
    But there is no sense of siege at Rabaa or the other camp at al-Nahda Square, or worries that supplies will run out. Communal kitchens with brand new refrigerators are feeding the thousands.
     
    “Maybe somebody comes and says 'I've brought 100 kg of meat,' so we cook meat,” said Mohamed Mosad Ghitani, an engineer volunteering in one of the kitchens.
    “Another day, somebody says 'I've brought 200 chickens', so we cook chicken,” added he.
     
    The Rabaa camp cannot expand further.
     
    Some entrances are blocked by riot police and army vans or fortifications set up by protesters. So Morsi's supporters are adding floors to the makeshift wooden buildings that have sprung up among the tents.
     
    Shop owner Mustafa, 24, is not a protester, but he is enjoying the carnival atmosphere at least as much as those who are.
     
    “Business is better in the camp than outside. I sleep here. I'm here every day,” he said, unloading hundreds of cans of soft drinks from a truck.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: ali baba from: new york
    August 13, 2013 9:17 PM
    Egyptian crisis need Egyptian solution. the Egyptian people understand that Muslim brotherhood has no place in politics. since Nasser, the Egyptian solution is rejecting their view. many had been detained for years and it looks that only way to deal with them is the same that general Hamza el bosunis dealt l with them and they need the same treatment

    by: William Norman
    August 13, 2013 6:29 PM
    In political terms, Egypt has been in a downward spiral since the revolution, and downward spirals have an end.. Yes, there are many in Egypt and throughout the Middle East who are very excited about the idea of President Mursi being pushed out of power. Using a street mob to topple a government in such a manner, which will most likely be accompanied by heavy violence, should always be the “nuclear option” (if at all). Should we really believe Egypt needs two such interventions in the span of only two years? Are we to believe this revolution will be so much better than the last one? We have no reason to think so.


    Albert Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results. Egyptians would be wise to take note of his words. Repeating the same mistakes will not produce the desired ending. Banging your heads against the wall will not break it down. It's only going to give you a headache, not much different from the ones you have now. New ideas are required. Our Egyptian friends can learn from the example of others.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora