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The View from the Egyptian Street - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood take part in a march on October 25, 2013 in Cairo's eastern Nasr City district. (AFP)

Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood take part in a march on October 25, 2013, in Cairo’s eastern Nasr City district. (AFP)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—“You see sir, we have this saying: ‘Too much of something can lead to too much of the opposite thing,’” an old man in his seventies explains as he sips his cup of tea in a local cafe in central Cairo.

“What does the Brotherhood want? Mursi has gone ‘poof’. . . . It’s enough already, people are really starting to hate them and our patience has limits. I’m really fed up with their continuous protests. This is a sad story that is being repeated every week.”

Asharq Al-Awsat took to the streets of Cairo to meet with ordinary Egyptians and solicit their opinions regarding the situation in the country following Islamist president Mohamed Mursi’s ouster, particularly regarding ongoing Muslim Brotherhood protests against the current military-backed interim government. Thousands of Mursi supporters marched through Cairo on Friday calling for his release and return, while the Muslim Brotherhood has lately called for a “week of steadfastness” in response to the ongoing political chaos.

One man told Asharq Al-Awsat: “They’ve even ruined the walls of the Metro. The government cleaned them up and repainted them, yet the Brotherhood supporters sprayed their slogans and offensive insults on them once more. This graffiti has nothing to do with religion or our culture and traditions: they are simply offensive.”

“There is not a single wall left that they haven’t damaged. In fact, it has come to the point where they are even spraying graffiti on trees and the doors of buildings and apartments, not to mention mosques and churches,” he added.

This state of public exasperation with the Brotherhood’s continued protests and marches, more than three months after Mursi’s ouster, is something that can be felt across the busy Egyptian capital. Pro-Mursi protests are a common sight, particularly on Fridays, diverting traffic and generally complicating life in Egypt’s already-complicated capital. It is not unusual to see clashes breaking out during these marches, not just between Mursi supporters and the police, but also between Mursi supporters and the general public.

Egypt’s authorities are in the process of discussing a controversial draft protest law, which has been the subject of strong objections from reformists, political groups and human rights activists.

Samir Abdul Raheem, a young researcher at the National Research Center in Cairo, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I support the protest law. I believe that objecting to it at this critical time is akin to a betrayal of our country.”

“It’s possible, however, to set a time-frame for the law, so that it only covers this transitional period until the end of parliamentary elections and the inauguration of a new president,” Abdul Raheem says.

Abdul Raheem asks rhetorically: “Who says the Brotherhood protesters are peaceful? What gives them the right to protest? Look at the forces behind these protests. There is money being paid to the Baltageeya (“thugs”), there are shops printing the banners and slogans they carry, there are traders and brokers selling weapons, including flare guns and Molotov cocktails. . . . We have had enough.”

Experts believe that the state of frustration with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is being exacerbated by the frequency of protests. The Brotherhood have been protesting almost weekly for several months, and have pledged to continue to protest in the future, until Mursi is returned to the presidency. This is a demand that few consider realistic, and apparently most of the Egyptian public would just like to move on.

One observer told Asharq Al-Awsat: “In the end, the game is tipped in the government’s favor, particularly after the army and police have tightened their grip on the Muslim Brotherhood protests. Ordinary Egyptians want what’s best for the country, and are prepared to confront anything that threatens Egypt’s security and reputation.”