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Voices of Protest from Tahrir


line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the square yesterday to celebrate the 18-day revolution that, two years ago, ended the corrupt 29-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak. But as Egyptians continue their struggle today, they find themselves divided over its goals and direction.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>This time, the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest mass organization in Egypt that also controls most major government posts, was conspicuously absent.

ordered its supporters to stay off the streets. Their partners, the more orthodox Salafists who won 20 percent of the vote in December 2011 elections, also avoided the square.

least 500,000 demonstrated in cities across Egypt, with seven reported dead as clashes ensued and police fired teargas on protesters in Cairo.

After the revolution

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>In a televised address on Thursday night, Morsi described a “counter-revolution” at work and denounced protesters as “remnants of the ousted-Mubarak regime.”

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>On the revolution’s first anniversary, the Brotherhood’s planned celebration was interrupted by tens of thousands chanting, “The revolution is not finished! You are in parliament celebrating and we are in jail and without jobs.”

contentious new constitution. The constitution, ultimately, was approved with only 33 per cent of eligible voters showing up at the polls.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Though the Brotherhood has claimed since Mubarak’s departure that it has no interest in seeking a majority in Parliament, writing the new constitution or altering the secular nature of politics, it has pursued the opposite path. The constituent assembly that wrote the constitution, signed into effect in December 2012, was stacked with a majority of Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist appointees.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Two years ago, Tahrir became a world-famous symbol of courage and tenacity, and demonstrators across Egypt have revived the message of equality and social justice. But courage and tenacity alone cannot overcome the tremendous power of the army and its uneasy and unstable partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood. The country’s government has acquiesced to International Monetary Fund demands to cut subsidies to the poor, stop strikes and oppose increases in wages – all designed to pay off foreign banks and to protect domestic business owners.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>Can the broad-based opposition seen in Tahrir coordinate national actions in defense of democracy, social justice and economic reform?

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>It is precisely in the electoral arena where the Muslim Brotherhood and the parties of property are strongest.

Middle East Research and Information Center, workers have conducted 2,400 work stoppages and other forms of protests since Morsi’s inauguration. But these have been limited to individual work sites. But there has been no national coordination of labor actions.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>While these coalitions remain tenuous, the Brotherhood, the military and the property class are increasing their stranglehold on society.

[email protected] This post originally appeared on In These Times. Finamore’s previous articles on Egypt can be found here.

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