10 January, 2009

Alexandria mass protest - another MB show?

This CCTV-report contains short clips from the massive protest in Alexandria yesterday, which gathered between 50.000 (according to AFP) and 100.000 (according to an al-jazeera broadcast yesterday). Judging from the pics and movies I've seen, anything between those two numbers could be correct.

The protest was led by parliamentarians from the Muslim Brotherhood, and it's very typical that protestors reportedly chanted "Down with Israel, and with it every collaborator," which is a clear reference to Hosni Mubarak but still short from explicitly saying "Down with Mubarak." Even more ingenious is the chant "Gaza excuse us: opening Rafah is not in our hands." Now that's as close as you can get to an open admission that the MB is not going to seriously challenge the politics of the Egyptian regime, as I suggested in a previous post.

Even in a democratic country, a one-time protest of 50.000 or 100.000 will not necessarily have much of an impact, as the huge protests against the war in Iraq in both the US and the UK have shown. To achieve change in an authoritarian state like Egypt it would take strikes, blockades and other acts of civil disobedience on a huge scale - not necessarily a revolution, but something close to it. I don't want to sound like a fatalist, and I'm definitely not saying that this will never happen in Egypt - just that it won't be initiated by the MB leadership.

When I read the AFP report, I was reminded of an interview I made last spring with two young girls from the "muslim brotherhood sisters," who took great pride in the historic role of the MB in supporting the Palestinian struggle. Today, it seems, their role has been reduced to taking to the streets in thousands, apologizing for not coming to the aid of the people of Gaza!


  1. Very interesting. Egypt is crucial in this intifada. I came here through 3arabawy. Thank you, and salutations from Galicia, in Spain.

  2. Per, you are too sectarian, and obsessed with the MB. Why can't you write a report that is just factual and allow readers to draw their own conclusion?


  3. Sursock: Thanks for your comment but I honestly don't understand what you're getting at. I did several factual reports on the previous demonstrations and police crackdowns on MB protestors, but I wasn't present in Alex so I can't report on it. I just felt like making a couple of comments on what I read, that's it.

    And why am I sectarian? Because I suggested that it takes more than a big demonstration to achieve change in a country like Egypt, and that this involves risks that the MB currently doesn't seem prepared take? Please explain :)