The secret of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political survival and success is not only its hierarchical structure and Leninist-like discipline, but most importantly its religious cover, “which is enough to cause people to turn a blind eye to any wrongdoing made by the group or its members,” Maged Atef writes for Fikra Forum.
But a recent incident in the village of Qatawiya in the Sharqiya governorate North of Cairo, is undermining the Brotherhood’s religious credibility. Nevertheless, he adds….
All past indicators show that the Brotherhood, or to be more precise, [de facto leader] Khairat al-Shater (left), will not back down from the consolidation of power and the exclusion of other political forces. As Shater continues to claim more control for the MB, and the group demonstrates its authoritarian practices, hatred toward the group grows not only among elite opposition forces, but also average Egyptians across the country. RTWT
With the shift from opposition to office, the Brotherhood faces a dual challenge, notes one analyst – “having to compete with other political forces and, at the same time, dealing with internal conflicts that had earlier been kept in check by ideology and solidarity in view of suppression.”
Unlike the group’s leadership, which includes wealthy businessmen and professionals, the Brotherhood’s membership base is largely made up of middle-class and lower-middle-class Egyptians, many of whom were attracted by the revolution’s demands for freedom, transparency, social justice and participatory decision-making, writes analyst Muna El Shorbagi.
But the Brotherhood-led government has failed to deliver, since the April 2012, launch of its ambitious “Nahda” (Renaissance) development project for Egypt’s future, she writes for Qantara:
The 11-page document talks about reducing the size of the state and a greater role for the private sector and civil society. It promises to double domestic production in five years, eradicate illiteracy, reform the education system and restructure the security apparatus. …. The document is vague, however, and does not spell out how the goals are to be achieved. There is no strategy on social justice, a core demand of the revolution. Poverty is only indirectly referred to within the charitable context of a “revival” of the Islamic institutions of “waqf” (religious endowments) and “zakat” (compulsory donations for charity).
Yet the non-Islamist opposition is failing to capitalize on the Islamists’ poor performance, notes a Cairo-based observer.
A recent poll conducted by the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research shows that support for President Mohamed Morsi declined to 46 percent in late April from 78 percent after his first 100 days in office, but support for the opposition National Salvation Front grew by just 3 percent to 33 percent, says Hicham Mourad.
“This inability to convert the popular disaffection with the Muslim Brotherhood into significantly increased support highlights the structural deficiencies that prevent the NSF from expanding its audience with the electorate, to be a credible alternative to the Brotherhood,” he writes for Al-Ahram. “Consequently, the NSF and its constituent parties rely more on protest of all kinds rather than on political action, to gain visibility and popularity.”
The latest indicator of the opposition’s failure to graduate from protest to politics was launched on May 1.
The Tamarrud (Rebel) campaign claims to have gathered three million signatures to a petition calling for early presidential elections and aims to reach 15 million by June 30, the anniversary of Morsi’s first year in office, writes The Arabist’s Ursula Lindsey:
Writing in the state-run newspaper Al Ahram, one Islamist columnist has compared Egypt to a large and crowded ship, and the Rebel campaigners to pirates who have tied up the captain-president and are “spreading lies” among the passengers.
“Much has been said about the structural handicaps of liberal and secular opposition against the Islamist forces,” writes Mourad:
Holders of an elitist discourse centered on large cities and urban areas, and neglecting rural and deprived areas, the liberals remained disconnected from the Egyptian masses, of which 40 percent live below the poverty line on less than $2 per day, and 30 percent are illiterate….[Furthermore], they lack financial resources and are thus far from being able to compete with the Islamists in terms of social services.
If they succeed; as predicted by various estimates, to improve their scores in the next legislative elections expected in October, it will be mainly thanks to the serious mistakes committed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Stated differently, it will be a vote of sanction against the Brotherhood, rather than a proof of confidence in the liberal opposition.