A countdown to the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule started over two years ago, when they first turned against the revolution by siding with the military in manipulating the people for a yes vote in the March 2011 referendum for the constitutional declaration. It was accelerated when they openly turned against the revolutionary youth and in parliament called them thugs, drug addicts and foreign agents in reaction to the cabinet clashes with the military and internal security forces in early 2012. However, this countdown is nothing but a theoretical one that might not reflect the pace of the street.
The real countdown to the Brotherhood’s fall seems to be speeding up recently. I assume stories by a typical taxi driver and a Niqabi woman to be evidence of significant street discontent against the brothers’ miserable political performance.
In a random taxi ride, which always involves political arguments as a post-Mubarak daily habit, the driver (not a big fan of the revolution) had things very clear in his head. He blames the Brotherhood for the absence of security and the deterioration of Egypt’s economy, which is definitely a little over the top. Yes, the Brotherhood should be largely blamed, but they are not the only reason for today’s crises.
The conservative, non-radical Muslim driver regretted voting for the Brotherhood in the parliamentary elections and for Morsi in the presidential one. He even went to the extreme of wishing he had voted for General Shafiq, although he doesn’t like Shafiq at all, but believes his rule could have been better than Morsi’s.
The appearing-to-be-politically-careless taxi driver is simply desperate for two things in his life so he can provide for his family, as he clearly mentioned: security and an end to the economic recession. Having this view coming from a non-revolutionary, non-radical, conservative Muslim citizen should not be underestimated as a new social attitude against the Brotherhood government, which has always relied on support from the relatively religious majority within society.
Another story that I would like to use as an evidence of significant change in opinions against the Brotherhood’s rule is what happened with a Niqabi woman I know.
In a big gathering with my extended family, one of my female relatives who decided to voluntarily wear a Niqab a few years ago said that she had decided to take it off. Her reasons were based simply on the significantly-increased difficulty of communicating with the rest of society recently. And how other Niqabi women describe society as “misguided”, since opposition to Morsi and the Brotherhood has started to increase.
According to my former Niqabi relative, she lost her faith in the Brotherhood’s rule after the Itihadiya presidential palace clashes in early December 2012, when Islamists violently attacked protesters while blindly following their leaders’ orders. This opinion of hers always generates a lot of criticism whenever she expresses it among her Niqabi friends. Also, recently, whenever she goes shopping, she is badly treated, given very bad service or none at all, and constantly “accused” by others of dragging Egypt into this current miserable situation.
In addition to these two simple stories that show a great deal of socio-political change in the Egyptian body politic, there are other factors leading to the growth of this anti-Brotherhood attitude. It is the Brotherhood’s attitude itself which does not differ from Mubarak’s, with all its arrogance and bluntness and complete underestimation of their own people’s powers.
Recently the Brotherhood, officially represented by President Morsi, made life more difficult for itself by calling the very popular TV political satirist Bassem Youssef for a five-hour interrogation accusing him of “insulting the president and Islam” and letting him go after he paid an EGP 15,000 bail. It created an unprecedented wave of criticism against Morsi both nationally and internationally. They have simply created a new army of little Bassem Youssefs all over the country.
And now with the officially-announced government policy of regulating electricity cut-offs across the country on a daily basis, insulting Morsi, the Guide and the Brotherhood is almost a prayer in the dark being practiced until electricity is back. A few days ago, I witnessed a bearded man wearing a gallabeya being verbally insulted and accused of bringing the country to “this condition”, while he was walking through a shopping street at the moment the electricity went off.
The Brotherhood’s fall does not necessarily mean that alternatives are better, or they would politically die or disappear. It might be good for Egypt’s future to see them out of the picture, but people have to know that there will be a cost. The situation will keep changing until the country has a mature revolutionary opposition with a clear and workable alternative model. And even when this day comes, we will unwillingly enjoy the company of the military, the Salafis and Mubarak’s business elite as significant players before and after the Brotherhood’s expected fall.
Ironically, Egypt’s situation seems to resemble my Niqabi relative’s suffering. “Whether with the Niqab or without it, I’m always harassed,” she told me.