Attempts by Muslim Brotherhood television channels broadcasting from Turkey, Qatar and London to exploit the so-called Reconciliation Law and incite Egyptians to organise anti-government protests on Sunday backfired.
The Reconciliation Law, passed by parliament on April 2019 and ratified by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi on 13 January 2020, seeks to crack down on building code violations but caused concern among citizens who complained that the fees payable to regularise the status of buildings were too high.
Local media reports agreed that the Brotherhood’s campaign met with zero response. Western media outlets also noted that Egypt was calm on Sunday, with no street protests reported.
Political analyst Sobhi Aseela noted in Al-Ahram on Monday that this is the seventh time the Muslim Brotherhood has called for protests that failed to materialise. “The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, removed from office in a popular uprising in June 2013, still wishes to return to power and to achieve this wish they tried for the seventh time to mobilise Egyptians against their president and government,” wrote Aseela. “They resorted this year to the Reconciliation Law to trigger protests, and once again they failed.”
Mohamed Ali, the fugitive contractor who last year attempted to stir protests by posting videos online, joined the hostile media campaign. Ali, has been sentenced to six months in jail on charges of tax evasion, had boasted he would be able to mobilise five million protesters. That not a single protest occurred left Ali fuming. Sada Al-Ballad channel subsequently aired a video in which Ali asked “when will you cows protest? When will the party of the couch protest?”
Abdel-Khalek, the fugitive contractor’s father, said his son’s behaviour was inexplicable. “I refuse to call my son Mohamed Ali any more. To me he is now Mohamed the traitor,” said Abdel-Khaleq.
He said that his son was desperate for any kind of attention. “At first he tried to be a movie star. When that failed he turned to politics, attempting to portray himself as an opposition figure.”
Abdel-Khalek added that his son left Egypt for Spain in 2018 to act in a film in Barcelona.
“When he returned he told me he wanted to live in Spain and set up a movie production company there. Once he returned to Spain he divorced his wife, married a Syrian woman and bought a palace. When I spoke with him on the phone and criticised him for his anti-regime videos he insulted me and I knew that he was taking drugs,” said Abdel-Khalek.
Three months ago Mohamed told his father that he had repented and vowed to keep away from politics. Abdel-Khalek then told his son to return to Egypt again and file for a presidential pardon.
“Now I feel sad that he joined the Muslim Brotherhood’s scheme to stir chaos again this year,” said Abdel-Khalek.
Essam Shiha, a Wafdist political analyst, said the Muslim Brotherhood’s annual media campaigns are sponsored by Turkey and Qatar.
“Egypt has become a major obstacle to both countries regional scheming. It has been successful in preventing Turkey and Qatar from gaining a foothold in Libya, and its cooperation with Greece and Cyprus over natural gas discoveries in the Mediterranean Sea has isolated Turkey,” argues Shiha.
“Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a big sponsor of Muslim Brotherhood activities, tried to threaten the national security of Egypt by intervening in Libya, but when Egypt said the city of Sirte is a red line Erdogan backtracked. Turkey and Qatar use these campaigns in a bid to tarnish Egypt’s government and disrupt the country.”
Political analysts say the arrest of the Brotherhood’s deputy supreme guide Mahmoud Ezzat three weeks ago was an enormous blow to the group.
“The Brotherhood then decided to seek revenge by launching this new hostile campaign based on fabricated videos and photos,” says Aseela.
Videos which the Brotherhood claimed show the public responding to their latest call to protest in fact date to 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Abdel-Halim Kandil, a leftist political analyst, agrees that the Muslim Brotherhood’s anti-regime campaign was a fiasco. In an interview with MBC Masr channel on Monday Kandil said “the reason why the Brotherhood’s hostile media campaigns fail year in and year out is simple. Egyptians chose stability, and never want return to the chaos and disintegration that prevailed during the group’s year in power.”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 24 September, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly