August 25, 2013


Among many Egyptians, a dramatic shift in favor of the military  (Mary Beth Sheridan and Abigail Hauslohner, August 22  2013, Washington Post)

[T]he public's rejection of Morsi is rooted in the wildly high hopes that ordinary Egyptians had for the Arab Spring -- and their bitterness at how democracy failed to deliver jobs or social justice.  

When Egyptians revolted in 2011 against Mubarak, it reflected their disgust with his government's corruption, police abuses and inability to provide jobs for the swelling population.  

In the lead-up last year to the country's first free presidential elections, candidates offered not so much policy proposals as visions of a new country.  

"Islam is the solution" was the Muslim Brotherhood's pledge. Working-class Egyptians such as Mohammed Abdul Qadir, 43, took that to heart.  

"I only wanted one thing: to be ruled under sharia," or Islamic law, the cabdriver said. "But this didn't happen. There was only more injustice." By "sharia," Abdul Qadir didn't mean a ban on alcohol or a requirement that women wear veils. He meant the creation of a broadly just society, the kind promoted in Islamic teachings.  

But his life only got worse as the already weak economy sputtered. Tourism and foreign investment dried up amid political uncertainty. There were gasoline shortages. Food prices climbed.  

When Abdul Qadir became ill, he found that he couldn't afford the cost of hospital treatment. [...]

For upper-class Egyptians and many secular middle-class families, Islamists threatened the lifestyles that they had come to enjoy under Mubarak.  

Morsi's government failed to put in place any strict Islamic legislation. But men who let their daughters drive cars or walk around without head scarves felt as if they were being judged, said Hamdeen Sabahi, a secularist politician who ran against Morsi and others in the presidential election.  

"Maybe it wasn't a noticeable factor, but it was very harmful for many Egyptians," he said.  

For opponents of the Brotherhood, it has been easy to demonize the group. 

They have tapped into decades of government propaganda alleging that the organization has shadowy terrorist ties.  

Egyptian television and newspapers, parroting the new government's narrative, have propagated elaborate conspiracy theories connecting the group to foreign agents, massacres and evil plots. 

One widely circulating theory holds that the United States had backed Morsi to divide Egypt and weaken its military.  

When the military did step in, it meant "that our army stood with our people against such a conspiracy," Sabahi said.  

"It doesn't matter whether this was fact or illusion," he said.

Posted by at August 25, 2013 10:52 AM

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