Why the Brotherhood needs million-men marches?

Cairo, January 6

Like a mushroom’s hat, a tent encampment bloomed in Tahrir Square in the past months. Since the liberal and secular parties sit-in started in protest against Morsi’s supra-constitutional declaration, it has become the pivot of the all square. It is the place where to go and take rest from the 100.000 people mass chanting for the President’s withdrawal. There, you can have tea, discuss with other people from one tent to the other, or just sit on the ground where mats have been deployed for the friends, party colleagues and even passersby.

Menna sits on one of those mats, among the Free Egyptian Party members and some from the Dostor. Next to her other, a lot of women without veil smoke cigarettes, sitting in group or side to side with other men.

“It is the first time I come to Tahrir” says excited. “I am always present in strikes and demonstrations, but until now I have always been in Alexandria. My parents do not know that I am in Tahrir today. It is a mess, because I cannot stay to sleep this evening. You know, if something happens and they were not aware…”. She is 23 and she just moved to Cairo because of work. “This morning I waited in front of the Opera for the Free Egyptian Party march to pass, and I joined. We have still to fight. Against the Constitution and against Morsi’ s declarations. We were left to face two choices: or accept the draft and voting yes to the referendum, in order to make the Morsi’s declaration no more valid; or to not accept the draft, asking for another constituent assembly and wait other three-four months while Morsi’s holding dictatorial powers. Both of them were not real choices, they are constraints pushing the Brotherhood’s opponents to going again to the Square”.
And laughing she adds “I do not know why Morsi acted in this way. As opposition we lost the presidential elections because we were not united, but now Morsi helped us to gather together!”.
Despite the opposition forces did not reach yet a stage including a real political line that would allow them to form a strong coalition, the people went to the street. “I do not accept this constitution. It does not represent me, nor the revolution. They are all Islamists, and the most of them are from the Brotherhood and the Salafi. Have you seen how many people were in the square on the Tuesday after the 22nd November’s declaration? And even today. All those people are not represented in the draft. How could I accept a main chart that restrains my freedom as a woman, reducing me as a housewife, and that allows the human trafficking! Are they crazy or what?”.

While more people start joining the encampments, fireworks start to be fired. With the flow of people and street vendors, Tahrir is also a festival. The first firework shot however make some people to rise their heads up over the tents, to make sure that it is just a firework and nothing more. Menna does not even react. “I am not scared, we are a lot. The Brotherhood wants to control the square, but they would not be able to. We are fighting for Tahrir. It is our square, they are not allowed to enter. We do not agree with the government, so if we are really in a democracy as Morsi states, we have all the right to come to the square and to protest. It is normal. We are the opposition, it is our job!” she emphasizes.
“What I do not understand it is why the people who support the government should go down in the streets. Why? If you are a Brotherhood member or a Salafi, you won the presidency, your majority is governing, you got the constitution they made as you wished…So why should you go in the street? If the majority is satisfied, it should stay home. What is the matter to demonstrate?”.
“You know, it is like under Mubarak. All the fascist governments need big marches to show their opponents and to the other citizens that they have a lot of support. And actually it is because they do not have it, that they need their affiliates to march in the streets. The Brotherhood, with their buses moving people from one governorate to the other, are acting exactly

the same”.

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In less than twenty days there will be the second anniversary of the revolution. Probably Tahrir will be full of people once again, but it does not seem that everybody will be allowed to participate in the square symbol of the Egyptian uprising. Will the Brotherhood and the Salafi try to get rid of the revolutionaries encampment, or will they organize a march in another location in Cairo to avoid clashes?

What is sure is that the initial unity of those eighteen days in January-February of two years ago is no more in place, and those same movements that occupied the square together, now are fighting over its control.

Costanza Spocci