With mass demonstrations scheduled for June 30, a new poll has shown that the
popularity of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has dropped from 57 percent a
year ago to barely 28%.
The revolutionary youths who toppled former
president Hosni Mubarak have launched a new movement called Tamarud, or
“rebellion,” and are spearheading a campaign to force the president to resign;
they accuse him of having betrayed the revolution, setting up a dictatorial
regime, oppressing the individual and failed to address the spiraling economic
They also accuse him of blatantly filling every state position
with members of the Muslim Brotherhood – a militant organization which openly
states its desire to restore the caliphate – though Morsi had renounced his
membership in the Brotherhood upon taking office.
In one of his more
flagrant endeavors to complete the Brotherhood takeover of the country, Morsi
appointed a devout member of the movement as culture minister. The man
immediately fired the heads of the departments of music, theater, literature and
visual arts, angering most Egyptians.
A similar process occured in the
Ministries of Education and Religion.
It is obvious to all that the
Brotherhood is striving to achieve complete control in the realms of education,
religion and culture, with the aim of molding new generations in accordance with
Earlier this week, Morsi appointed 17 new governors; seven
are Muslim Brothers, and one, the governor of the key tourism province of Luxor,
is a member of the Gama’a al- Islamiyya, the terrorist organization responsible
for the 1997 Luxor massacre that left 57 foreign tourists dead.
lower house of parliament disbanded by the courts, Morsi is pressing the upper
house of the parliament – to which he granted by presidential decree the
legislative powers vested in the presidency by the new constitution – to pass a
number of important laws wanted by the Brotherhood concerning NGOs, the
electoral process and the political rights of citizens.
severely curtail the fundamental rights of the people, and many have been struck
down by Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court.
The Tamarud movement has
been circulating a petition to strip Morsi of his legitimacy, vowing to gather
15 million signatures before June 30.
Having announced it had garnered
seven million so far, the movement is now at work organizing mass demonstrations
against Morsi and the Brotherhood regime throughout the country – protests
slated to reach their peak on June 30 in order to force the president to
Will they succeed? It is true that most non-Islamic parties have
declared their support for the Tamarud initiative and will take part in the mass
demonstration at the end of the month. The National Salvation Front opposing
Morsi’s legislative power grabs – led by Mohamed ElBaradei, Amru Moussa and
Hamdeen Sabahi – has also agreed to the move; Moussa has gone as far as to say
that June 30 will see the end of the Morsi regime.
The Front – which
unites the liberals, the Left and the popular Nasserist current – is the only
organized political opposition, and refuses to dialogue with Morsi until its
three demands are met: withdrawal of the new electoral law granting a clear
advantage to the Brotherhood party, setting up a neutral government to stay in
place until elections are held, and dismissal of the attorney-general appointed
in violation of the law.
Morsi and the Brotherhood are pretty much alone;
even Salafists and other religious groups – including terrorists who were
allowed to come back from their exile abroad – no longer support them, because
they disagree on the application of the Shari’a law and are wary of the true
aims of the Brotherhood. Incidentally, the Brotherhood does want to implement
Shari’a, but cannot yet do so in the face of popular protest and the need to
tackle the economy first. Only Gama’a al-Islamiyya openly supports the
This is an extremist organization linked to the assassination of
Anwar Sadat; It also tried to assassinate Mubarak in the ’90s. The group carried
out, with Iranian help, a series of terror attacks throughout Egypt, killing
more than 1,000 people, Egyptians and foreign tourists. Under Morsi, the Supreme
Council of the Armed Forces granted the group a form of legitimacy, releasing
its guerrillas from jail.
Ordinary Egyptians are so disenchanted with
Morsi that last Friday, as he was leaving the mosque after prayers, he was
surrounded by hundreds of people who tried to block his way and abused him
verbally. His security detail worked hard to get him safely out of the mosque
and into his car.
There are daily attacks against offices of the
Brotherhood throughout the country, and protesters remain camped out near the
presidential palace in Cairo.
The people’s main worry is the economic
situation. So far, the government has managed to import staples and make them
available at subsidized prices – but only thanks to generous grants and loans
received from Qatar, Saudi Arabia Libya and Turkey.
Yet Morsi cannot
bring himself to accept the terms of the International Monetary Fund, which is
ready to loan the country $4.8 billion, but demands reforms which would hurt the
poorer classes – so far the bulwark of his regime.
To add to this already
volatile mix, a crisis is brewing with Ethiopia over its plan to build a dam on
the Blue Nile, a move that could impact the amount of water reaching Egypt.
Though there are efforts to defuse the situation, Egyptians are angry at what
they perceive as their country’s inability to protect their most vital
In a futile attempt to display leadership, Morsi broke off
relations with Syria, a move which came as no surprise and stirred little
The Brotherhood is beginning to sit up and notice that the
situation is getting serious.
Various reports mention that the younger
members of the organization are training in paramilitary groups, in order to
defend their leader and their offices against demonstrators.
As for the
Egyptian army – which is basking in an unheard-of 94% approval rate – is sitting
on the fence, and says it won’t intervene.
The Interior Ministry is
putting the final touches on a plan to draft thousands of policemen and use the
armored vehicles of the dreaded security forces in order to protect the
Instead of addressing burning issues, the Brotherhood is stepping
up its efforts to secure its hold on the country, while Morsi can be heard
repeating that Allah will come to his aid.
Time will tell if the
opposition is strong enough and determined enough to challenge their
The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public
Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.