Some of the mass media in Egypt gave huge coverage to the anti-government demonstrations called upon by former parliamentarian Mohammed Abu-Hamid and journalist Tawfiq Okasheh in Egypt. Along with a few supporters of the old regime, they call for the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, the first elected civil president of Egypt. They are clearly of a counter-revolutionary nature.
The demonstrators included non-political groups, but they were used by the organisers to achieve certain political aims. Morsi’s decisions to push military chiefs into early retirement destroyed their arguments, which were in any case very weak.
In addition to the huge media coverage sponsored by the now dissolved National Party, the demonstrations were based on three things: First, support from members and backers of the previous regime; records of telephone calls and clandestine meetings have confirmed this to be the case. Second, links to security agencies and the heads of Egypt’s civil service. Third, appeals made to Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, scaremongering by using the threat of living under an Islamist government and president.
The plans have been unsuccessful for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the withdrawal of political parties upon learning of the real objectives of the demonstrations. Also, the lack of genuine grassroots support and the ability to mobilise people without coercion by the security forces has reduced the number of expected participants. An old Arabic saying illustrates that “the hired mourner is not the same as the bereaved mother”; bribing people onto the streets is ineffective and does not represent real popular support.
Although some immigrant Copts and youths offered some support to the organisers of the demonstrations, the lack of any official church participation weakened Abu-Hamid’s plans to use sectarianism as a means to bring down President Morsi and his government.
For now, then, the counter-revolutionary movement appears to have stalled, but for how long?
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.