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Sinai those days was going through a very difficult period. During Morsi’s tenure his plans for that very dear part of our country were evil and traitorous. Slowly news filtered through of a plan to sell the northern part of Sinai to the Gaza people represented by Hamas, and to have most of them relocate there and take over living in that area. Rumour had it that the States was paying the Brotherhood the sum of 8 billion dollars for that deal. Details of this deal, the ones in on it and the signatories, the handing over of the money and to whom, were all part and parcel of what was being said about Sinai at the time. All this was, to our minds, corroborated by the revelation that a few of the machines that print the national identity card for Egyptians had been “stolen” and were found with some people from Gaza who seemed to have issued a few thousand of these cards to Hamas personnel. Knowing that Egyptian law prohibits non Egyptians from owning land in Sinai, this was enough to prove it for us. Then the fact that the American President and CNN were totally biased towards the Brotherhood gave more credence to this story than would have happened under different circumstances.
Parallel to all that was the behaviour of the American Ambassador. Every time she had a meeting with some faction of Islamists, a surge of violence ensued. This was attributed to her giving them the green light that they had the support of the United States of America. No wonder the crowds started writing banners denouncing Obama as the biggest supporter of terrorism and requesting that the American Ambassador be declared a persona non grata. When Lady Ashton repeated her visit and reiterated her request to “reinstate the democratically elected President” who was then regarded by most Egyptians as a traitor who should be tried and punished for what he has done, this strained relations not only between the Egyptians as a whole and the European and American Administrations, but also between the Egyptian people and their own government that was trying to appease all parties. That was an impossible task and they were nearing the point of alienating all parties when things started coming to a head.
The Rabaa sit-in started taking bizarre proportions. Ramadan, the holy month of fasting was upon us, and the amounts of ready meals that were delivered daily to Rabaa were mind boggling. A very astute observation was made that one no longer saw the traditional beggars on the streets of Cairo who seem to triple in number every Ramadan. They were all in Rabaa, being given free meals and a place to stay, being told that by just being there, it was as good as going on Pilgrimage to Mecca, because here they were fighting for a holy cause! As is the case with most of the things they do, the MB leaders went a bit overboard with this holy theme. They nearly deified Morsi, raising him to at least the level of some of the Prophet’s friends, but took the whole thing a bit further by having people there tell some of their visions which were quite bizarre. What bordered on the farcical was their claim that the Virgin Mary visited Rabaa and encouraged them to go on with what they were doing! After that, the “holy” theme was toned down a great deal.
Reality of Rabaa on the ground was something totally different. Congestion was rampant and lack of hygienic facilities a great inconvenience that eventually turned into a health hazard. Their paranoia grew exponentially the longer they stayed in there. Then violent acts started against anyone suspected of being a spy. Again rumours grew of a number of bodies found both at the local infirmary set up in Rabaa, and under the stage set up for their speakers. There was even a joke about this with a girl going there looking for her father and not finding him asked one of the leaders of Rabaa to look for him. He asked her his name and she gave him a name of someone who could not be anything but a Christian, so the answer was to look under the stage. But aside from that, there were clips shown on Youtube after the dispersal of Rabaa of how, during the dispersal, several bodies, already wrapped in their shrouds were being taken out from under the stage and from the field hospital. It was a grim reality that was echoed again in the sit-in next to the Cairo University at the Nahda Square, where bodies were found, tortured and killed, thrown outside the perimeters of that sit-in, as well those discovered buried in the Orman Botanical Garden.
Another aspect of the Rabaa sit-in which alienated ordinary Egyptians was the totally alien and extremely offensive idea of sexual jihad for women. This was proposed as a bona fide means for women to achieve the ultimate goal of service to the cause, something comparable to martyrdom by the men, by practicing sexual jihad. This entailed sexual intercourse with the Mujahedeen, the fighting men who are actively resisting the oppressors for the holy cause of Morsi. The horror of news leaking out of Rabaa of forcing young girls in what amounted to prostitution, was the straw that broke the camel’s back where the Egyptians’ feelings towards the MB were concerned. For a deeply religious, conservative people this was beyond what was acceptable or even tolerable.
Unrest on the streets started at the delay in dispersing the sit-ins and even some disgruntled voices aimed at the army and the police questioning why they were being so gentle and even weak in dealing with the MB sit-ins.. It was then the time of celebrations of the 23rd July anniversary, when Al Sisy gave one of his even- toned speeches and asked the people to give him an order/a mandate to deal with potential terrorist activities by taking to the streets on 26 of July. Two days later all of Egypt was on the streets. They have had it with the indecisiveness of the government of old cautious men. We were eager for firm young blood to take over and get things done and over with. Al Sissy came out as that person. Not only was the performance of the armed forces exemplary from the 30 June, but the idea of someone in authority actually deciding on a firm course of action was a great relief to us all. I am in awe of the Public Relations Team working for the armed forces. They did a fantastic job. Not only did Al Sisy impress the public, but the PR Team carried through by having all correspondents from the foreign press assigned to Egypt, being given a helicopter tour of the country during the demonstrations, all being filmed as evidence, to show them, on the ground, what was previously denied as having taken place on June 30.
Though the mandate was given to the army and the police force to handle all sorts of terrorist activities, yet still nothing was done about either Rabaa or Al Nahda. It was still Ramadan and the feast was fast approaching, and still the status quo. People on the streets were getting very impatient, especially that continuing violent incidents were taking place by the MB, and the situation of the residents of Rabaa was becoming intolerable. Strong rumours of heavy arms being smuggled in to the Rabaa sit-in were making people more and more anxious. The lack of action, especially on the part of one we were starting to look upon as a hero, was daunting, to put it mildly.
The general tide was turning though against all the members of the MB and hatred was starting to appear among the people for the MB leaders. Whenever one of the MB leaders was captured, the people celebrated, and another spate of jokes appeared. But generally, we were worried by the lack of action in dispersal of the sit-ins, and by increasing doubt about the current government and the people in authority. The resignation of El Baradei just before the dispersal was a great blow to many Egyptians who thought highly of him, me included. It was disillusion in yet another respected figure.
Continued … Part 4