News / Middle East

    Egypt's Bruised Brotherhood Fails to Show Street Power

    A man stands near supporters of Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi as they shout slogans against the military and the interior ministry during a protest in front of Al Tawheed mosque in Cairo, Aug. 23, 2013.
    A man stands near supporters of Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi as they shout slogans against the military and the interior ministry during a protest in front of Al Tawheed mosque in Cairo, Aug. 23, 2013.
    Reuters
    Mass protests called by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood mostly failed to materialize on Friday as the movement reeled from a bloody army crackdown on followers of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
     
    Troops and police had taken relatively low-key security measures before the “Friday of Martyrs” processions that were to have begun from 28 mosques in the capital after weekly prayers.
     
    But midday prayers were canceled at some mosques and there were few signs of major demonstrations unfolding in Cairo.
     
    “We are not afraid; it's victory or death,” said Mohamed Abdel Azim, a retired oil engineer who was among about 100 people marching slowly from a mosque near Cairo University.
     
    “They intend to strike at Muslims,” the gray-bearded Azim said. “We'd rather die in dignity than live in oppression. We'll keep coming out until there's no one left.”
     
    • Demonstrators hold up four fingers, a symbol of their solidarity with the the destroyed sit-in protest known as Rabaa, which means four or fourth in Arabic, Cairo, August 23, 2013. (H. Elrasam for VOA)
    • Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans against the military and the interior ministry as they gesture "Rabaa," Cairo, August 23, 2013.
    • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi hold posters showing victims of a military crackdown on their protest camp during a march in Cairo, August 23, 2013.
    • Egyptian army soldiers in armored vehicles block Tahrir Square in Cairo, August 23, 2013.
    • Protesters shout slogans against former president Hosni Mubarak's release from prison, in front of the courthouse and the Attorney General's office in downtown Cairo, August 23, 2013.
    • Egyptian medics escort former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak into an ambulance after he was flown by a helicopter to the Maadi Military Hospital from Torah prison, Cairo, August 22, 2013.
    • Supporters of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak gesture as the helicopter carrying him leaves Tora prison, Cairo, August 22, 2013.
    • A ripped poster of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi lies on the ground in the courtyard of the Rabaah Al-Adawiya mosque in Nasr city, Cairo, August 21, 2013.
    • An Egyptian man pushes a wheelbarrow with debris from inside the Rabaah Al-Adawiya mosque in Nasr city, Cairo, August 21, 2013.

    Some marchers carried posters of Morsi, who was toppled by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on July 3 after huge demonstrations against his rule. “No to the coup,” they chanted.
     
    Egypt has endured the bloodiest civil unrest in its modern history since Aug. 14 when police destroyed protest camps set up by Morsi's supporters in Cairo to demand his reinstatement.
     
    The violence has alarmed Egypt's Western allies, but U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledged that even a decision to cut off U.S. aid to Cairo might not influence its military rulers.
     
    Some U.S. lawmakers have called for a halt to the $1.5 billion a year in mostly military assistance to Egypt.
     
    “The aid itself may not reverse what the interim government does,” Obama said in an interview with CNN. “But I think what most Americans would say is that we have to be very careful about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that we think run contrary to our values and our ideals.”
     
    He said the United States was re-evaluating its ties with Egypt. “There's no doubt that we can't return to business as usual, given what's happened,” he said.
     
    The United States has nurtured an alliance with Egypt since it signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Military cooperation includes privileged U.S. access to the Suez Canal.
     
    The Brotherhood, hounded by Egypt's new army-backed rulers, had called for demonstrations across the country against the crackdown, testing the resilience of its battered support base.
     
    A few dozen Islamists, many of them women, marched in an old Cairo district. Some carried Egyptian flags or rolled-up Morsi posters. Others held umbrellas to ward off the afternoon sun.
     
    Asked if she was afraid, a fully veiled nursery teacher with four children, who gave her name only as Nasra, said: “God will make us victorious even if many of us are hurt and even if it takes a long time. God willing, God will bring down Sisi.”
     
    Low-key approach
     
    Security forces kept a watchful eye, but did not flood the streets, even near Cairo's central Fateh mosque where gun battles killed scores of people last Friday and Saturday.
     
    The mosque's metal gates and big front door were locked and chained. Prayers were canceled. Two armored vehicles were parked down the street, where people shopped at a busy market.
     
    Only one riot police truck stood by near Rabaa al-Adawiya square in northeastern Cairo, home to the Brotherhood's biggest protest vigil until police and troops stormed in, killing hundreds of people, bulldozing barricades and burning tents.
     
    The mosque there was closed for repairs. Workmen in blue overalls stood on scaffolding as they covered its charred walls with white paint. Children scavenged through piles of garbage.
     
    Troops used barbed wire to block a main road to Nahda Square, the site of the smaller of the two Brotherhood sit-ins.
     
    The authorities declared a month-long state of emergency last week and they enforce a nightly curfew. The state news agency said the armed forces had strengthened their presence around the presidential palace and the defense ministry.
     
    The Muslim Brotherhood, which won five successive votes held in Egypt after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, has been jolted by a week of bloodshed and the arrest of many of its leaders in what the authorities call a battle with terrorism.
     
    In a symbolic victory for the army-dominated old order, Hosni Mubarak, the ex-military former president who ruled Egypt with an iron fist for 30 years before an uprising toppled him in 2011, was freed from jail on Thursday. His successor Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, remains behind bars.
     
    The Brotherhood's “General Guide” Mohamed Badie, who was arrested on Tuesday, is due to go on trial on Sunday along with two other senior figures, Khairat al-Shater and Saad al-Katatni, on charges that include incitement to violence.
     
    Remain steadfast

    At least 900 people, including about 100 soldiers and police, have been killed in violence across Egypt since Aug. 14, officials said. Brotherhood supporters say the toll is higher.
     
    The Brotherhood, founded in 1928, could once mobilize vast crowds, drawing on the same organizational strength it wielded at the ballot box, but its protests have dwindled this week in the face of the security crackdown.
     
    Graffiti on a mosque wall in a run-down Cairo neighborhood illustrated the deep divisions that have emerged since Sisi ousted Morsi. The spray-painted message “Yes to Sisi” had been crossed out and painted over with the word “traitor.”
     
    Slogans elsewhere read “Morsi is a spy” and “Morsi out”. Someone had also written “Freedom, Justice, Brotherhood”.
     
    The Brotherhood survived for generations as an underground movement before emerging as Egypt's best-drilled political force after Mubarak fell. But its popularity waned during Morsi's year in office when critics accused it of accumulating power, pushing a partisan Islamist agenda and mismanaging the economy.
     
    The Brotherhood, which Egypt's new army-backed rulers have threatened to dissolve, says Morsi's government was deliberately undermined by unreconstructed Mubarak-era institutions.
     
    Egyptian medics and police escort former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak into an ambulance after after he was flown by a helicopter to the Maadi Military Hospital from Torah prison, Cairo, August 22, 2013.Egyptian medics and police escort former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak into an ambulance after after he was flown by a helicopter to the Maadi Military Hospital from Torah prison, Cairo, August 22, 2013.
    x
    Egyptian medics and police escort former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak into an ambulance after after he was flown by a helicopter to the Maadi Military Hospital from Torah prison, Cairo, August 22, 2013.
    Egyptian medics and police escort former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak into an ambulance after after he was flown by a helicopter to the Maadi Military Hospital from Torah prison, Cairo, August 22, 2013.
    Mubarak, 85, still faces retrial on charges of complicity in the killings of protesters, but he left jail on Thursday for the first time since April 2011 and was flown by helicopter to a plush military hospital in the southern Cairo suburb of Maadi.
     
    The authorities have used the state of emergency to keep him under house arrest, apparently to minimize the risk of popular anger if he had been given unfettered freedom. Local newspapers on Friday focused on the latest arrest of Brotherhood leaders, giving scant coverage to the former strongman's exit from jail.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 23, 2013 2:34 PM
    It is important to state that the Muslim Brotherhood used to conscript people into its ranks. Being well organized is out of the question. What gave it marginal popularity was the people's desire to breathe a new life from the emergency rule of 30yrs running. They just wanted a change, but you bet they got less than their bargain... Or should I say more? The Muslim Brotherhood gave them the bitter side of democracy, an acid taste in the mouth that they wished to remain under military rule instead of Muslim brotherhood's brand of democracy. The interim administration in Egypt should do everything within its powers to remove the stranglehold of the brotherhood on the Egyptians. Surely they have learned their lesson, but they need help to avoid making the mistake of being forced to choose the MB in future elections, which might look fare on the surface before the due date, people's votes were confiscated in a Hollywood action movie style - want to stay alive? vote for the JFP otherwise known as MB.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora