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EGYPT/ From the Hopes of Tahrir Square to the Shadows of the Present

A risk exists that in Egypt the spring of revolution has quickly come to its end and the fire of confessional disagreement has started. Unless the majority of Muslims isolate the extremists

Photo Ansa Photo Ansa

The revolution exploded in Cairo on 25 January 2011 was a spring, no doubt. Who would have thought the protesters to clean up Tahrir Square and repaint its pavements, a Christian girl to take water to a Muslim Brother for his ritual ablution, a veiled woman to lift up the cross together with the crescent? Or that Muslims would form a human shield around a church to protect it during the Easter celebrations? Or that one of them would write in Egyptian dialect a banner addressing the former president, before his resignation: «May God curse you, you let us love one another»? Peaceful protesters remember that the Muslim Brothers did protect them from being forcefully dispersed by forming three military-like ranks: a front line armed with long sticks, the second with bricks and the rear one manned by older people who supplied the other two lots with ammunition.

The Islamic youth persuaded the Muslim Brothers of the importance of this national coalition for the success of the revolution. In Tahrir Square, again, some Islamic youths surrounded a group of Christians to defend them against extremists. In short, from Tuesday 25 January to Friday 11 February 2011, the day of the president’s resignation, there was no split in the national unity of Muslims and Christians.

At the first signs of the revolution’s success, the Muslim Brothers started to ride on its wave, until February 18. After the Friday prayer in Tahrir Square, led by imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who, for political and religious reasons had not set foot in Egypt for a long time, one of the revolution leaders, Wael Ghonim, was forbidden to speak to the people gathered in the square. Barely controlling his anger, he wrapped his face into an Egyptian flag and disappeared among the crowd. The Muslim Brothers were, and still are, the only (doctrinally, economically and politically) organized group both inside and outside of Egyptian society, whose foundations are shaken by a powerful anarchy which has been seeping into all aspects of life, as has emerged from the live television images.

The revolutionary youths, unaware of their rapid success, are neither homogenous nor organized as a group (even in terms of their representatives), and the faces of their heroes are unknown. So the Muslim Brothers have reaped the fruits of what they had untiringly pursued from the very beginning.

But the real danger began after the withdrawal of the police from the streets and the escape of thousands of prisoners (criminals and extremists). The walls of different prisons were simultaneously demolished by bulldozer: people provided with lists of Islamic extremists guilty of various crimes (such as the murder of Anwar Sadat), helping them escape by car.