By collecting millions of signatures, opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi are pressuring his Muslim Brotherhood. Organizers have planned a large protest for June 30, which could turn violent.
Mohamed is standing in front of his tiny café. It consists of two plastic chairs and a gas cooker in a blue metal cabinet, situated in a small alley. The 49-year-old is angry at President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. He can hardly make the 10 Egyptian pounds (roughly one Euro) a day he needs to feed his son, because of rising prices, Mohamed says. On top of that there are the constant blackouts, the short supply of gas and Morsi's many broken promises.
A lot of people think like Mohamed. Only 28 percent of Egyptians still support the president, according to a recent poll by the Zogby Institute. "The situation is close to unbearable," Mohamed says. "We were a lot better off under Mubarak and his interior minister. Back then, at least we lived in safety. Today, we're not even safe in broad daylight."
15 million signatures against the president
This anger toward the president and the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood has found an outlet in the two-month old "Tamarod" campaign, the goal of which is to raise 15 million signatures against the president. In 2012, Morsi was elected with only 13 million votes. The campaign's initiators hope to force the president to resign this way.
For June 30, Tamarod has announced a large protest in front of the presidential palace to further pressure Morsi and to continue the Egyptian revolution. Tamarod is the Egyptian word for "rebel."
Moheb Doss is one of six founders of the campaign, for which people are currently collecting signatures on almost every Cairo street corner. They are facing tough opposition. "Some of our people have been attacked," Doss reports. "In some cases, their signature lists were taken from them. Our female activists have been harassed." In addition, young members of the Muslim Brotherhood collected signatures with the same forms and then threw them away to intercept votes against Morsi.
No post-Morsi plans
Despite the attempts to boycott it, the protest has been extraordinarily successful. The campaign's spokesman announced on June 19 that the number of 15 million signatures had already been exceeded.
Many people who put their name on the Tamarod lists feel betrayed by their president. While some of them elected Morsi a year ago, today many only see him as the Brotherhood's authoritarian representative.
But it's unclear what would come after a possible coup. The leaders of the political opposition aren't popular with the people either. 21-year old Ahmed says: "By now I've realized that it's only about power with those guys as well. None of them care about the people."
Frustration with flawed politics
If Morsi was overthrown, some members of the opposition want the head of the constitutional court announced president, so he can form a transitional government until new elections are held. But it remains unclear how legitimate this government would be and where it would get its power.
For some protesters, it's less about democracy anyway and more about their pent-up frustration with the flaws of politics. "I want the army to take back power and deal with all those thieves, criminals and people with knives, swords and handguns," Mohamed, the café owner, says. "As long as that happens, I don't care who's president – even if it's an Israeli."
The Muslim Brotherhood conspired against them, but the Tamarod campaign still has millions of signatures to count
Fear is building up in Egypt: No one knows what's going to happen on June 30, the day of the large Tamarod protest. On Friday (28.6.2013), protests in Alexandria lead to several deaths. And the Muslim Brotherhood's behavior shows how serious they are taking the situation. They felt compelled to start their own campaign and tried to bolster their president in a rally with hundreds of thousands of supporters on June 21. Morsi's prime minister called a possible coup a "catastrophe."
But the Islamists are not a united front anymore. The second-strongest Islamic party, the Salafi Nour party, recently called on Morsi to make substantial concessions to the opposition.
The Muslim Brotherhood's central argument is that Morsi was elected by the Egyptian people. It would thus be illegitimate and against the voters' will to overthrow the president, they say. "If people force the current president to resign, they will also force every future president to resign," Ibrahim, a young pro-Morsi protester, says. He believes that to rein in chaos, the elected president should stay in office until the end of his term.
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood currently see themselves as victims and many believe the Tamarod campaign is a conspiracy by members of the Mubarak regime. Some even believe that Western countries are helping to finance it with the aim of destabilizing Egypt. The danger of escalating violence between Morsi supporters and his opponents on June 30 is high.