Egypt: Islamists, Which Side Are You On?

The Islamist forces, without exception, are now against the sit-ins in Tahrir, Suez, Alexandria, and elsewhere in the country.  And I mean here the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis, Gamaa Islamiya, and even the pathetic intellectuals of the “moderate” Wassat Party.  All are singing praise of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (read: Mubarak’s army generals), describing the sit-ins and protests as “chaos,” “conspiracy from abroad,” “work of thugs,” “counterrevolution,” blah, blah, blah . . . in a language that is no different from what State Security Police used to use during the uprising and what the military continues to do till today.

No wonder the shabab in Tahrir kicked out Sheikh Safwat Hegazi (the Islamist preacher with MB roots who supported the uprising strongly but was more than happy to become a SCAF lackey later) when he showed up at the square two nights ago, accusing him of opportunism and being an agent of SCAF.

Moreover, Sawasiya, a “human rights center” which was founded by the Muslim Brothers and has been headed by a senior MB lawyer, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, has called for a counter-Tahrir protest and march in Heliopolis today:

A call for a parallel demonstration in Cairo’s Roxy Square to that in Tahrir Square on Friday has come out on Facebook.  The event is planned to march to the headquarters of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) against the continued sit-in in Tahrir.

A statement released by the Sawasiya Legal Centre, which has initiated the call, declares that the sit-in in Tahrir Square “imposes the demands of a minor category that does not represent the majority of the Egyptian people.”  The statement goes on to denounce the “shameless attempts that seek to create division between the people and their military forces.”

Shame on them.  I will not sing this stupid hymn of “national unity.”  It’s time to make a clear stand, distinguish who is for the revolution and who has decided to side with the counterrevolution.  And the Islamist forces’ leaders are clearly on the side of the counterrevolutionary generals.  I hope the Islamist youth, those who defied their leaders’ orders and took part in the uprising, will wake up and see what sort of opportunists are running their organizations.

Hossam el-Hamalawy is an Egyptian socialist, journalist, and photographer.  Visit his blog: <>.  Follow Hossam el-Hamalawy at <>.  This article was first published in his blog on 15 July 2011 under a Creative Commons license.  Cf. “The Muslim Brotherhood, which after much hesitation had joined last Friday’s protest, had announced its boycott of the Friday of Final Warning.  However, as has been a common occurrence since the start of the Egyptian revolution on January 25, the youth of the group dissented and declared they would be joining.  Two Salafist groups, the Arab Twahid Party, and the Peace and Development Party also announced they would be taking part, saying they cannot ‘leave the street’ at this ‘crucial time’ in which Egypt’s future is being determined. . . .  Tens of thousands are in Tahrir now, considerably less than last Friday, however, but much more than during the past days. . . .  In Roxy, the Heliopolis square where the counter-demonstration of some 1000 pro-stability protesters is taking place, an Ahram Online reporter was accosted by several ‘burly men’, according to our colleague, from the UK.  ‘You could cut the tension directed towards me with a knife.  They didn’t like that I am a foreigner,’ says our reporter, adding that some large men approached him and asked for his journalist ID.  They said there were spies in the crowd.  ‘One protester thought my ID was fake,’ our British reporter adds. . . .  Numbers in Tahrir are increasing, but the turnout is still less than expected.  ‘Honestly the sight of the square brings diarrhoea and that is why am not going to post the pictures now.  Maybe the numbers will increase in a while,’ tweets @Dr_Mokka Eslam Nour el-Den, writer of the famous ‘Poor First’ blog, expressing his disappointment. . . .  Some Twitter users have begun to mock the pro-SCAF Roxy protest, making jokes about its small size.  The users have made a special hashtag “#Roxy” for relating the news and jokes.  Among the comments widely retweeted: ‘The protesters at Roxy decided to transfer the protest to one of their friends’ apartments'” (“Egypt’s Friday of Final Warning: A Blow by Blow Update,” Ahram Online, 15 July 2011).

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