Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1157, (18 - 24 July 2013)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1157, (18 - 24 July 2013)

Ahram Weekly

For the sake of ‘legitimacy’

Supporters of ousted former president Mohamed Morsi say they will not end their protests until legitimacy is restored, writes Mohamed Abdel-Baky

Al-Ahram Weekly

Speaking with tears in his eyes, Mahmoud Salah, a 27-year-old Arabic teacher, believes that his dream of having an Islamist president for Egypt has been stolen by a group “of corrupted army soldiers” who are against Islam.

A year ago, Salah was a member of Morsi’s electoral campaign. At his hometown in Kafr Al-Sheikh city, Salah was able to get Morsi 500 votes, mostly from his relatives.  

“Morsi was deposed because he wanted to put an end to the corruption in Egypt and implement Sharia law. This platform was against his opponents’ Western agenda, which aims to sabotage Egypt,” said Salah, who has been participating in the pro-Morsi sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya district in eastern Cairo since day one.

While accusing the opposition of being an “agent of the US and the West”, Salah and his friends who shared the same tent mentioned several times that the international community including the US “still considers Morsi the legitimate democratically elected president of Egypt”.

Two weeks after his ouster, Morsi loyalists are still in a state of shock, filling large squares throughout the country in their tens of thousands, including Rabaa Al-Adawiya districts and Al-Nahda Square in Giza.

“We will remain here until Morsi has been reinstalled as president. We are willing to sacrifice our lives, our work and our children to restore the legitimacy which was stolen by the army,” said Omayma Abdel-Tawab, a 40-year-old housewife, who comes every day to Rabaa Al-Adawiya from the Al-Obour district in eastern Cairo to show her support for the ousted president.

Abdel-Tawab, along with most of the protesters in Rabaa Al-Adawiya, believes that the sit-in will bring Morsi back to power in a few weeks.

“I believe that God is not satisfied with the injustice. Morsi will be back soon and Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi who led the coup against our first democratically elected president will be put on trial,” she said.

Taking part in the sit-in has not been difficult despite the heavy security measures taken by the Muslim Brotherhood’s guards who have been controlling all the entrances and exits to the Rabaa Al-Adawiya area.

Everything is organised, and street vendors selling food and drinks must get the permission of the sit-in organisers to enter the area. Special tents have been established for women, which enable them to have some privacy.

Many governmental buildings and at least two public schools in the area have been occupied by the protesters, who have used them for sleeping in during the night.

“Pro-Morsi supporters occupied the school last week during the night. The doorman could not say anything because they asked for shelter and promised to leave in the morning but never did,” said Mustafa Essam, an eyewitness who lives across from the school.

Most of the protesters sleeping in Rabaa Al-Adawiya came from outside the city, while Morsi’s supporters from Cairo usually come to perform the ishaa, or night prayers, and then leave shortly before midnight.

The sorrow and bitterness they feel are clear on their faces, and hundreds appear to be crying as they pray, calling for Morsi to return.

“God will protect Egypt from its enemies and help us to win the war against Islam,” the protesters said during their prayers.

At least 60 field restrooms have been established, but queues of protesters can be seen waiting for at least 30 minutes to use them. Many protesters use the restrooms of nearby restaurants and mosques to avoid waiting in line.

“We do not care that we are living in tough conditions away from our homes. We are here to protect the will of God, which brought Morsi to power,” said Mahmoud Amin, a 62-year-old retired textile worker from Mahalla.

The Muslim Brotherhood has also opened a field press centre that facilitates the work of Egyptian and other journalists reporting from the district. These preparations indicate that the Brotherhood has done everything possible to keep the sit-in going for as long as need be in order to get back “our legitimate president”, said Yasser Khattab, one of the organisers, who came two weeks ago from his hometown of Assiut to participate in the sit-in. 

Since they began the sit-in, the protesters’ main source of news has been from speeches delivered from a podium set up by the Brotherhood.

Some speakers have been telling demonstrators about dreams that people have been having since the rally began. One said that the Prophet Mohamed had met Morsi and told him to lead the prayers, while another said that the Archangel Gabriel had appeared above Rabaa Al-Adawiya district.

Many of the speeches given by Brotherhood leaders focus on keeping the protesters’ faith in the sit-in. Islamist leaders take to the podium to talk to the protesters, to argue that their position is strong, and to tell them that the majority of Egyptians support their case and support Morsi as the country’s “legitimate president”.

“Being here in this sit-in is a reward from God who enlightens your vision and puts you in the right direction to heaven. You are the real supporters of justice, I promise you. You will win in the end and restore our legitimate president,” said Muslim Brotherhood leader Saad Al-Husseini to thousands of protesters.

“Al-Sisi has only two options to end this sit-in: either he kills us all, and in this case we will all be martyrs, or he brings Morsi back to power, and in this case Egypt will gain a better future,” Al-Husseini added.

Most of the Islamist leaders also talked to the protesters about “a conspiracy forged by Al-Sisi with the help of ‘corrupt businessmen’ to remove Morsi from power.”

“Morsi wanted Egypt to be the best country in the region, but Al-Sisi and his corrupt police officials took him down,” said Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazi in a speech during the sit-in.

Hegazi and other preachers participating in the sit-in use rhetoric also used by jihadist sheikhs to convince the protesters that they are part of a “jihad” against the enemies of “Egypt and God,” according to Amr Baqli, a political analyst.

Baqli added that using “jihadism rhetoric” is extremely dangerous, as it could further isolate the protesters in Rabaa Al-Adawiya, radicalise their behaviour, and turn to violence.

“Now you can see that Morsi supporters do not believe in anything but the information provided by the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and this is the first step to their isolation and the loss of any chance of starting a dialogue with them,” he added.

add comment

  • follow us on