Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has initiated a campaign to improve public services, including free health care, to coincide with the second anniversary of the 25 January uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
The Together We Build Egypt initiative builds on the Islamist group’s grassroots organizing efforts that helped it emerge as Egypt’s most powerful political force. The program, which will include a push to upgrade or renovate 2,000 schools, will be backed by business and civil-society groups, according to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper.
The Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, has already launched several initiatives, including convoys to provide medical services such as orthopedic, pediatric and gynecological check-ups.
Non-governmental groups are supporting the initiative, said Moustafa Al-Ghoneimy, the campaign coordinator and a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau.
“Twenty Cairo-based NGOs along with 800 NGOs in different governorates have joined the campaign,” he said:
He explained that the campaign has three main projects. One is a health related project that aims to provide a free or almost-free of charge health service for the poor.The Islamic Medical Association will contribute medical convoys that would tour the governorates providing free health services..
[And] unnamed businessmen have contributed enough money to repair and maintain 1,850 schools, which is part of the educational aspect of the campaign. Al-Ghoneimy added: “The third project is establishing charity markets that sell products for reduced or wholesale prices.”
But some civil society groups suggested that the campaign is an election ploy rather than an attempt to provide sustainable services to address social needs.
“Our organization supports hundreds of families, I can’t promise them a development project that would turn out to be unsustainable, only aiming to garner votes in the upcoming elections,” said Zeinab Afify, head of a national orphan charity.
The campaign is designed to mobilize civil society support for the Islamist government, said Mahmoud Hussein, the Brotherhood’s General Secretary, who called on the media “to follow the project to validate its credibility and achievements.”
“Morsi still appears to exercise little day-to-day authority over the judiciary, the police, the military and the state-run news media.” Writing for the Wilson Center, Joshua Stacher finds that “the Brothers will have to govern however they can from the offices of state with an uncooperative bureaucracy as well as an increasingly experienced protest movement. Morsi and the group, for now, realize that repressing dissent is futile.”
POMED is a grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.