What Egyptians think about the dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins

So much has been spoken and written about the dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo, but one central stakeholder in this tragedy, the Egyptian people, seems to have been forgotten.

What the Egyptian people think is what really matters. Everyone else – Europeans, Americans, Israelis, right wingers, left wingers, centrists, liberals, conservatives, progessives – is secondary, at most.

First, let us recall what these sit-ins were. There were two: a massive encampment at Rabia al-Adawiya in Nasr City and a smaller one at Nahda Square. To get a feeling of the encampment at Rabia al-Adawiya – lest anyone think that it was like the kind of sit-ins people in the West are used to, for example, the ones organized by the Occupy movement – here is vivid description given by Egyptian writer and activist Wael Nawara put it,

For six weeks, yard by yard, the Rabia al-Adawiya encampment expanded its borders, creeping to claim kilometre after kilometre of neighbouring streets, including the Autostrade road, which connects Nasr City and the rest of Cairo to the city’s airport. Until one day, Rabia al-Adawiya was no longer a sit-in but a sprawling town, even a city-state, with fortifications, internal police force, complete with torture camps and border control officials. Rabia al-Adawiya came to manifest the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Parallel State”

So, what do Egyptians think about the way the two sit-ins were dispersed?? According to an opinion poll conducted by Baseera, the Egyptian centre for public opinion research, and reported by Daily News Egypt, Egyptians are very clear in their assessment.

Sixty-seven per cent of Egyptians were “satisfied” by the manner of dispersal of sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Nahda Square…

The report showed 24 per cent of respondents were “not satisfied” with the way in which dispersals were handled, leaving 9 per cent “not sure.”

Fifty per cent of respondents said the sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Nahda Square were “not peaceful whatsoever” while 17 per cent said they were “not peaceful to some extent”. Eleven per cent said the pro-Morsi protests were “peaceful to some extent” while only 6 per cent considered them “very peaceful”. Sixteen per cent of respondents were “not sure”.

The figures closely mirrored respondents’ opinions on the use of force to empty the sit-ins, with 65 per cent saying there was “not excessive use of violence”, with 23 per cent saying that security forces used “too much force” to disperse the protests.

Despite this, 56 per cent of those surveyed said the death toll for the dispersal was too high, with a remaining 34 per cent saying it was not.

Seventy per cent of respondents said the protesters supporting ousted president Muhammad Morsi were given sufficient time to end their demonstrations, with 24 per cent saying they could have been given more time amidst the political impasse.

The report showed most Egyptians were not supportive of actions taken by other countries against Egypt, following the dispersals with 78 per cent saying countries that objected to the dispersal carried out by security forces had no business doing so and only 8 per cent saying international responses were warranted.

Thirty-nine per cent of respondents said that Egypt’s dealing with those countries critical of actions taken was “good”, with 32 per cent saying it was “average” and 10 per cent saying “bad”.

Some Western observers will be surprised by these poll results, especially given the scale of the violence and the number of casualties of the sit-ins’ dispersal. But, put in context, the results are more understandable.

Aside from the size and semi-permanent nature of the sit-ins, the Muslim Brotherhood-run torture camps set up inside the camps, and the paralysis inflicted on millions of Cairo residents, there is the broader context: a whole year in which the Brotherhood had ruined the fragile Egyptian economy, their grab for total power and seizure of state institutions and, above all, the infamous Islamist constitution which confined women (50 per cent of citizens) and Christians (10-12 per cent of citizens) to a second class status – strangers in their own country.

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