Tensions rise between Tahrir Square protesters and Muslim Brotherhood

On Monday night, a protester carried a sign readin "Our peaceful march to parliament was stopped by the Muslim Brotherhood."

Egyptian protesters are no longer only angry with the military government in power. During a recent protest in Cairo, the crowd chanted slogans that were openly hostile toward the Muslim Brotherhood. Members of the Islamic movement were present at this march, but they had not come to participate – they were there to block the march’s progression.
 
The protesters had gone out into the streets Monday to denounce the Egyptian army’s hold on power. They started by yelling, “We want a free government – life has become intolerable,” but then went on to chant “Sell, sell, sell the revolution, Oh Badih!” (in reference to Mohamed Badih, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood; this chant is a way of accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of being motivated only by its own advancement). Members of the Islamist group then formed a chain to block the protesters’ march toward parliament.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood swept the legislative elections held after former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from office. Officially, the Islamist group did not take part in the Egyptian revolution, even if some of its members were among the protesters who demonstrated in Tahrir Square last year. On January 25, Badih even asked his partisans to go out into the streets to celebrate the revolution’s first anniversary.
 
 
This video shows Monday's anti-military protest, during which protesters clashed with members of the Muslim Brotherhood who had come to interrupt the march.

"I cannot accept the way the Muslim Brotherhood behaved"

Mohamed Abdelhamid is a blogger and activist. He took part in Monday’s protest.
 
When the march began, the slogans were at first directed solely at the military. We were asking military council to cede power to parliament – we don’t want the military to be in charge when we draft a constitution and hold presidential elections. We may not have the same ideas as the majority of parliament [which is composed essentially members of the Muslim Brotherhood and salafists] and the electoral process lacks transparency. Still, we view parliament as the only legitimate civil representation we’ve got.
 
We knew we might run into members of the Muslim Brotherhood or their sympathisers, but we didn’t expect them to block our way. Activists from the “Freedom and Justice” party [the Muslim Brotherhood’s party] formed into a human chain to keep us from reaching parliament. We tried to talk to them. I was wearing a sticker that said “give power to parliament.” I showed it to them, and explained we weren’t against parliament – we were against military rule. But they didn’t want to listen and said that there were people among the protesters who wanted to destroy the country.
 
"Some of them were armed with Tasers"
 
The Muslim Brotherhood see parliament as the centre of power; they want to defend it at all costs. To their way of thinking, the goals of the revolution may not all have been attained, but they want to continue the fight from within the institution of parliament, not on the streets. They have always believed in fighting through political channels; that’s why the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders did not call for their members to take part in the protests that started on January 25, 2011 [the start date of the Egyptian revolution]. I don’t share their way of seeing things, but I respect it. However, I cannot accept the way they behaved on Monday. Some of them were armed with Tasers. The “Freedom and Justice” party is not supposed to enforce law and order; they’re just a political party like any other.”
 

"Entering into conflict with the army is not the solution"

Mohamed Refaat is a translator. He describes himself as close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
I spoke with the young men [from the Muslim Brotherhood] who formed the human chain. They told me that their goal was to prevent any clashes with the security forces and ensure the safety of members of parliament. This isn’t the first time that young men from the Muslim Brotherhood interfere with protests. I find this somewhat disturbing because I believe ensuring public safety is the job of the police. However, due to the violent clashes that took place recently during protests near Tahrir Square, I also understand their reasoning.
 
Personally, I’m not in favour of a military regime, but I’m against what these protesters are asking for. I believe it would be a mistake to take power away from the military right now, because some of them, especially those at the top, might take this poorly. They could be tempted to carry out a coup to take back power, and this time, hang on to it forever. I think it would be wiser to let things run its course, but perhaps speed up the process a bit. In any case, the committee that drafts our constitution will come from within parliament – it will not be dictated by the army.
 
The protesters are confused: during the latest elections, we voted for a parliament, not a president. The parliament has a legislative role; it cannot rule the country on its own. I understand the anger of many Egyptians who believe the revolution’s goals have not yet been accomplished. But entering into conflict with the army is not the solution.”
 

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