As Egyptian protesters gather to rally on the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, it's clear the country's opposition thinks much progress hasn't been made since the dictator's fall. Banners outside the presidential palace proclaim, “No to the corrupt Muslim Brotherhood government” and “Two years since the revolution, where is social justice?" the AP reported.
The focal point of the protests is Egypt's constitution, which the opposition says was pushed through by current President Mohamed Morsi and his Islamist allies without input from minorities and other groups.
The AP continues:
More broadly, protesters are trying to show the extent of public anger against what they call the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization Morsi hails from, which they say is taking over the state rather than setting up a broad-based democracy.
The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups are largely staying off the streets Friday, but their secretary general, Mahmoud Hussein, recently gave an interview that offered a revealing look at many of the rifts between the Brotherhood and Egypt's various opposition groups.
In the conversation with Egyptian paper al-Ahram, Hussein claims that opposition groups didn't raise specific objections to the constitution and that the groups have been behaving unlawfully by protesting the document ever since. Here are some particularly telling excerpts:
Why didn’t you take that into consideration when civil groups pulled out of the Constituent Assembly?
When the vice president sat down with members of the Constituent Assembly the discussion was not specific and no alternatives were put forward, only general remarks. Besides, we don’t believe that the constitution encroaches on the rights of Copts or the judiciary.
How do you see the National Salvation Front?
If it acts as a strong opposition, this would be good for political life. Strong opposition means coming up with alternatives and discussing them with the people. Doesn’t the opposition wish to become the majority? This can only happen through speaking to the people, so that they may be convinced and offer their support.
I don’t see this happening. The opposition adopted non-democratic and non-political means, and I believe that it has lost a lot. If the referendum were to be held today the opposition would get fewer votes. It is losing in the streets because it resorts to lying and disinformation.
What is the nature of the relationship between the presidency and the Brotherhood?
We have said repeatedly that the presidency is independent in its decision-making and that it acts in the manner it finds most suitable, either through advisers or the secretariat. Political parties and other groups also act independent of the presidency.
What do you think of the opposition’s reaction to the measures taken so far, especially with regard to the referendum?
The opposition made a serious mistake when it resorted to lying and disinformation and when it used undemocratic methods to change things. We have seen street action that wasn’t peaceful, and an attempt to storm Al-Ittihadiya Palace [the presidential palace]. People were prevented from entering Tahrir Square and violence was committed when Brotherhood offices were set on fire and thugs were sent to Al-Qaed Ibrahim Square.
News reports tend to focus on the opposition's views, but from this interview it seems as though Hussein and the Brotherhood not only feel the constitution is fair, they also think the protesters are "thugs" who are acting outside the law.
As Egypt's opposition gears up for upcoming elections for the lower house of parliament, the mentality of the Brotherhood reveals just how fraught the process of governing the new Egypt continues to be.