Among the muddy, crowded tents where tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members have been living for weeks in a vast sit-in protest, men in Islamic dress can still be seen carrying incongruous signs above the teeming crowd: “Liberals for Morsi,” “Christians for Morsi,” “Actors for Morsi.”
It is the vestige of a plea for diverse allies in the Brotherhood’s quest to reinstate president Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted by the military on July 3.
But in the wake of the bloody street clashes that took place just outside the sit-in early Saturday, leaving many Brotherhood supporters dead and hundreds wounded, another, more embattled language can be heard among the masses gathered around a large outdoor stage.
Many Brotherhood members are enraged by the reaction of Christian leaders and the secular elite, who — the Islamists say — seemed to ignore or even endorse the killings while giving support to calls by Egypt’s defence minister, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, for a continued crackdown.
For all its commitment to democracy and non-violence, the Brotherhood’s only reliable partners now are other Islamist groups whose members may be more willing to use violent or radical tactics.
“Now there is just one big Islamist camp on one side and the military on the other, and the differences between the Brotherhood and other Islamists are blurred,” said Khalil al-Anani, an expert on Islamist movements and Egyptian politics at Durham University in England. “It’s a populist confrontation on both sides, driven by hatred.”
Morsi’s supporters called for new protests as the EU foreign policy chief pressed rulers to step back from a confrontation with the Brotherhood.
(The New York Times & Agencies)