Posted by Noor
January 31, 2011
For those it can’t afford to brutalize, the Mubarak regime has found other means of intimidation. One is the presence of state security in residential neighbourhoods and on university campuses. In Garden City, checkpoints were set up near the British and American Embassies after a demonstration against the invasion of Iraq in 2003; they are now permanent, and locals refer to the area as ‘the Green Zone’. Only a few minutes’ walk from the American Embassy ~ the second largest in the world, after Baghdad ~ is the Ministry of the Interior, a forbidding, futurist building.
Mubarak’s principal domestic adversary ~ and perhaps his greatest asset in selling himself to the West, and to a frightened middle class ~ is the Muslim Brotherhood. Founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, a schoolteacher, the Brotherhood remains the country’s largest, best organized opposition movement. There have been many strategic shifts over the years but the message hasn’t changed: social justice, clean governance based on Islamic principles, opposition to imperialism, and solidarity with Palestine.
‘It’s a tricky question,’ he said, playing with a ruler on his desk. ‘Egypt is a country where two religions coexist. You can’t have the Islamic Republic of Egypt ~ it will never happen. We can’t accept a Muslim party that says a Copt or a woman can’t be president of the republic. And I refuse to be ruled by someone who thinks a Malaysian Muslim is closer to him than a Christian Egyptian. I know some decent people in the Brotherhood, like Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh. You speak to them and you wonder why aren’t you with us? But I don’t trust them.’
‘Gamal’s support comes from people in the business elite,’ al-Ghazali Harb says. ‘They are plotting away, trying to mobilize the support of members of the party and the army. But if his father dies tomorrow they will shut him out. And trust me: Hosni Mubarak won’t leave his position even one hour before he dies. We’re not in the US. We don’t have vice presidents. Here you’re either in your position or you’re in your grave. And within five or six minutes of his death, you’ll see tanks in the streets.’ This isn’t a prospect that alarms him. ‘The army is the only force that can guarantee that the transition will be peaceful.’