Despite carnage, Muslim Brothers win little sympathy in Cairo
Normally crammed with cars and people, the chaotic streets of Cairo were strangely quiet on Thursday, with many shops still shuttered the day after security forces crushed supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
While distraught relatives waited to claim the hundreds of dead, there was little sympathy on show for the Brotherhood among Egyptians who said the Islamists had pushed too far.
The government has imposed a night-time curfew for at least a month and many people had clearly decided to stay home. Some of those who did venture out, pinned the blame on the Brothers.
“We didn’t want this to happen, but at the end of the day they pushed us to do it,” said Mahmoud Albaz, 33, an actor and real estate agent who lives near the Brotherhood protest camp at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, now blackened by fire and soot.
“More than 70 percent of Egyptians are against the Brotherhood,” he said.
The Brotherhood won all five elections since the downfall of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but Islamist President Mohamed Mursi faced accusations of incompetence during his year in office and was swept aside by the army after huge protests.
Some 68 percent of those who voted for Mursi in the 2012 presidential elections came from rural areas of Egypt, according to a report by the Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute, while support in the big cities was always more muted.
“The government had to act and intervene. In the long run it will save the lives of Egyptians,” said Faris Sabhy, 44, who runs an Internet cafe on the edge of Tahrir square, the focal point of rallies that led to Mubarak’s removal.
“I watched it on television. I saw many guns on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood. I saw injured soldiers and thugs attacking the security forces,” he said. “We are in a war.”