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MENAFN - Arab News - 13/02/2013

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(MENAFN - Arab News) As Egyptians celebrated the second anniversary of former President Hosni Mubarak's ouster, protests organized by opposition groups continued against the rule of Mubarak successor Muhammad Mursi, whom some believe will meet Mubarak's fate. Others believe he remains in firm control.

Although promoted as "peaceful," marches toward government institutions and the Presidential Palace of Ithadiya have frequently turned violent as demonstrators hurl Molotov cocktails, inviting the inevitable response from Egyptian riot police who use water cannons, tear gas, birdshot, and batons to deter protesters from attacking the palace.

Slogans that were heard during the early days of the Jan. 25 Egyptian revolution that ousted Mubarak are again being heard, this time calling for the fall of the Mursi regime and the ruling Freedom & Justice Party, the party of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Despite almost daily protests, the government doesn't seem to be shaken. "All Islamists in Egypt support Mursi," Baher Ghorab, a Muslim Brotherhood member who works as a journalist said. "(Mursi) was democratically elected and he has many supporters from all sections of Egyptian society."

Waleed Al-Badry, a media spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party, said in an exclusive interview that the group is supported by other Islamist groups such as the Salafis who do not necessarily share the same ideology, but have similar political motives: To turn Egypt into a state ruled by Islamic (Shariah) law. "Salafis and the Muslim Brothers are political conservatives and they are suffering from the lack of experience," Al-Badry said.

He lauded what he called "the wisdom" of President Mursi to watch and observe the current situation. In his assessment, "Mursi is a very wise and smart person. I think the problem hides behind the people surrounding him."
As protests escalate throughout Egyptian cities, some believe the Muslim Brotherhood-backed regime will fall because of the appearance of incompetence in running the state.

Early on in the days leading to the ouster of Mubarak, the slogan of the Salafi Al-Nour Party," Islamiya-Islamiya," was countered by liberals, and subdued by the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian opposition groups, which include the National Salvation Front, leftist parties, youth movements, Liberal factions and revolutionary movements, still do not represent the majority of the Egyptian population, the most of whom did not vote. Out of approximately 50 million Egyptians who are eligible to vote, only about 26 million voted in the recent presidential election.

According to Ghorab, "The (more experienced) opposition groups are taking advantage of the lack of political experience of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis, and Egyptians."

To many, the most important question is how long will Mursi and his government last; and whether and to what extent Mursi is in control of the military.

It appears from press statements that because the military does not want to lose its support among Egyptians, appearing to be the last resort for their protection, it would like to maintain a neutral position. "The military institution is still in control of its own elements and investments, and I doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood will takeover the steering wheel of the armed forces," Sameh Al-Yazal, a retired general and expert on the Egyptian military said in an interview to Egyptian television. "The armed forces are still the final resort for the Egyptians, and Egyptians believe that the armed forces will protect them at all costs. But I believe the armed forces will not go back to take control unless there is a popular demand (to do so)."

According to Abdallah Mash-hoor, grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood's Grand Mufti Moustafa Mash-hoor, and a prominent figure in the Freedom & Justice Party-run Egyptian Business Development Association (EBDA), "Mursi is a very smart politician. He is allowing this criticism so the opposition could be real and realistic. He is allowing all kind of criticism. Many are criticizing him and even attacking the presidential palace, and this has nothing to do with democracy." Mash-hoor said.

One might believe that a civil war might breakout after all the protests and clashes between supporters of the regime and opposition group, but according to Sobhy Saleh, former secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood and member of constituent assembly charged with drafting Egypt's constitution, things are different. He said, "We have the complete conviction that there is a conspiracy against the Muslim Brotherhood (based on) media reports against them.

The Egyptian people want change and I think that the nature of the Egyptian people is to avoid aggression. The proof of that is what happened during the 18-days of the revolution."


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