On Friday, January 25, the second anniversary of protests that led to President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, @Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood’s English language website, tweeted articles about a new tree planting campaign:
— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) January 25, 2013
The tweet links to an article on Ikhwanweb, announcing that the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Muslim Brotherhood planted 10,000 trees throughout the governorate of Behira. The article also reports that medical convoys examined over 7,000 residents, and that the FJP began a week long program to feed poor families.
These efforts are part of a new campaign, Together We Build Egypt, which the Muslim Brotherhood and FJP launched on January 23. For the next month, the campaign aims to cure one million sick people, renovate 2,000 school buildings, and provide financial relief to Egyptians by selling goods wholesale at FJP affiliated stores.
With new parliamentary elections coming up in April, it is hard not to suspect the Brotherhood of attempting to cultivate good will among voters. There are certainly acute problems associated with public health, education, the environment, and cost of living in Egypt. However, the campaign’s work – over the course of one month – has little hope of addressing the underlying causes of these problems.
Twitter certainly does not reflect reality, but tweets like these also hint at the dramatic gulf between the Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi and the anger expressed on the streets of Egypt on Friday.
While it is unsurprising that Morsi failed to stop the unfolding street violence, it is surprising that he chose to respond to hours of clashes by tweeting his condolences. After hundreds were injured and close to a dozen people killed, Morsi pledged that security forces would protect peaceful protests and implored Egyptians to uphold the principles of the revolution by expressing themselves peacefully. His message, while admirable in its call for a halt to the violence, rung hollow.
The Friday protests are a reminder of how disappointing the political stalemate in Egypt is today, and how radical and brave Egyptians have been throughout the last decade of Mubarak’s rule and since his ouster.
Two years ago, on Police Day, a national holiday, citizens rose up to say, “No more.” They will continue to do so until a new government is formed that can safeguard Egypt’s many natural resources and unleash the human potential so evident in its people.