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Egypt After Mubarak

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Egypt turns to the Dark Side as Muslim Brotherhood Calls the Shots

July 30th 2011

Africa - Shouting Muslims in Cairo

One navigates in the dark, we do not know where Egypt will go," says Fr. Luciano Verdoscia, a Catholic missionary serving in Egypt. In Cairo, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Square on July 29, in response to an appeal launched by the Muslim Brotherhood. Fifteen lay political formations as well as Coptic Christians joined in the demonstration.

Among the slogans in the square, there was ''Islam, Islam, we do not want a liberal State," "The people want Islamic law,"''Islam: not West or East," to which were political demands, such as  bringing ormer President Hosni Mubarak to justice.   

Crowds shouted glosses on slogans popularized by the protests that culminated in February with the downfall of former dictator Hosni Mubarak. During Egypt's spring there was heard "Hold your head up high, you’re Egyptian.” On Friday, “Muslim” was substituted for “Egyptian.” Similarly, the chant that resounded throughout the revolution, the people want to topple the regime,” became "The people want to apply God’s law.” Moreover, the chant "There is no constitution but Islam," was also heard. 

"In recent days there were clashes between the young revolutionaries and members of the Muslim Brotherhood," recalls Rev. Verdoscia according to the FIDES news service.

"The young protagonists of the revolution in previous months (who forced the resignation of President Mubarak) would like a more democratic government," said Rev. Verdoscia. "These young people are from the cities and are able to handle the most modern means of communication, such as the social network."

"On the other hand," continued the missionary, "the Muslim Brotherhood has a considerable organizational capacity and appeal especially to religious identity. One must keep in mind that a good part of the Egyptian population lives in rural areas. These people have no culture and their identity is only religious."

"The revolution was able to overthrow the authoritarian system of Mubarak, but we do not yet have a clear idea of what Egypt will become: one navigates in the dark," concludes Rev. Verdoscia.

Following Friday prayers, contending groups of Egyptians flooded Tahrir Square and chanted conflicting slogans.  Prominent among these were Salafists, an ultraconservative branch of Wahabi Islam that has close ties to Saudi Arabia.  Saudi flags were evident among members of the crowd that numbered in the thousands and appeared to fill the now iconic Tahrir ('freedom') Square in Cairo. Both the Salafists and Muslim Brotherhood contingents vastly outnumbered the other groups present.

The Salafists are considered to be more religiously conservative than the Muslim Brotherhood. According to local reports, in some cities the Salafists have refused to allow contending groups to join them in marchs demonstrating against the current government. In the Sinai city of el-Arish, hard-line Salafists fired rocket-propelled grenades and other heavy weapons into the air during protests, injuring a small boy. However, the Muslim Brotherhood remains the best organized and largest political grouping in the troubled country.

Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com. 

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