Sherifa Zuhur and Marlyn Tadros
Dr. Zuhur, a visiting scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley, was a research professor of national security at the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College from 2004 to 2009. Dr. Tadros is a research affiliate at the Middle East Center of Northeastern University and professor of Web Development and Interactive Media at the Arts Institute of New England.
Edward Said's concept of orientalism was developed from his perception of the role of scholarship in the West's exploitation of the East for the purpose of conquest and the maintenance of political power. It was not simply a construct of Eastern inferiority versus Western superiority. Hassan Hanafi, chair of philosophy at Cairo University, first encouraged a "science of occidentalism" to counter orientalist studies.1 However, as Syrian philosopher Sadiq al-Azm has suggested, one must heed Said's warning to the subjects and victims of orientalism against the dangers of applying the readily available structures, styles and ontological biases of orientalism upon themselves and others.2 That would result in orientalism in reverse, or the internalizing of orientalist political intentions.
Is occidentalism a means of perceiving the West as territory for ideological or political conquest, since it is the source of Eastern domination? Can it be free of neocolonialist underpinnings, given a discourse of romanticized logic and ordered behavior not necessarily present in a society like Egypt? Or might it ameliorate Western ills: anomie, materialism, lack of compassion, a quest to control valuable resources and militarism?
Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit have defined occidentalism as anti-Westernism, anti-modernism and anti-colonialism, tracing it to scholars of the Romantic Group or the Buddhist Hegelian Kyoto school meeting in 1942.3 There are many similarities between this Asian political antipathy to the West and types emerging in Egypt. However, occidentalism, like orientalism, is also a means of rendering the Other as exotic, desirable and permeable. It may not always be part of a political agenda. Robert Woltering has also described occidentalism in Egypt primarily in terms of responses to colonialism, equating the "West" with the term4 and concerning himself with the connections between discourse about the West and power. Following the 2014 onslaught on Gaza, there was a new call for an occidentalist news service, linked to increasing global support of Palestinian grievances, that could counter the anti-Arab, anti-Muslim media effort of the U.S.-based MEMRI5 by exposing the actions and attitudes of Israel and the United States.6
We will focus, in the context of Egypt's policies, on some examples of the conspiracism that developed during and after the January 25, 2011 revolution. Diverse religious and political movements used rhetorical devices and conspiracy theories to mobilize people during elections in Egypt and thereafter. This resonated widely due to social media.
Conspiracist discourse in the media solidified public support for the Egyptian government when it was challenged by Western and opposition media, particularly after July 3, 2013, when President Mohamed Morsi was deposed. Attacks were also waged by certain actors on civil society, terming its members "Western pawns;" civil society itself used the same concept in the initial stages of the January 25 Revolution. Throughout, occidentalism and orientalism-in-reverse reverberated in popular discourse, revealing uncertainties in the self-image and worldview of Egyptians.
SOME ORIGINS OF OCCIDENTALISM
The Muslim Brotherhood movement — al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin — was established by Hassan al-Banna in 1928 to counter the pervasive influence of Western thought and ideas, particularly on youth. It wielded anti-Western rhetoric, decrying "Western" concepts of democracy and, eventually, the rule of secular law. Instead, it promoted the concept of shura (consultation) and the implementation of shariah to the degree tolerable by the Western-influenced Egyptian body politic. The Muslim Brotherhood constructed itself as an alternative to a monolithic and imperialist West. Decades beyond its founding, according to its internal charter, a woman or a Christian could not serve as president, and women were barred from the Brotherhood's leadership, as part of its interpretation of shariah.7
Yet the movement also expressed Occidentalism as part of a strategy to oppose the "Islamophobia" of the government and the military, reflected in propaganda against the group in the Nasser era. Due to the Brotherhood's attempt to assassinate President Gamal Abdul Nasser and his subsequent imprisonment of their leaders, movement figures hated him and reviled his policies, especially his support for the "communist" Eastern bloc. The deal struck between the movement and President Anwar Sadat in 1971 to counterbalance his leftist and Nasserist critics involved the Brothers' promise to forgo violence and the pursuit of a full-blown political party. Following Sadat's assassination by radical Islamists of the Islamic Jihad, the movement began to pursue parliamentary positions in defiance of that agreement, but only as part of coalitions with other opposition parties or by running individuals as independents. The political aspirations of the movement were obvious, but were dashed by repressive regime tactics in 2005.
Liberalism evolved in Egypt between the state's partial independence in 1919 and the coup known as the Revolution of 1952. The movement embraced rationalist scientific thought while dusting off and elevating indigenous architectural, artistic and craft forms. What was Egyptian was prized, idealized and given value, sometimes alongside Western practices, fashions and customs. In part, state sponsorship of the arts, literature and television influenced this process.8
Intellectual versions of liberalism were affected by Arabism (one of us was taught and hired to teach "Arab history" and to define Arab anthropology, Arab cultural studies and Arab political theory). Not all of these ideas or themes were inimical to the West; rather, they were portrayed as alternatives. Some parts of liberal occidentalism were also influenced by Islamic history, themes and idealizations without necessarily promoting a state governed by religious law.
For over three decades, the Muslim Brotherhood had antagonistic relations to some degree with Egypt's Copts and with liberals who fit into two of the conspiracy theories we explore.
Egypt's Coptic minority has, paradoxically (since Copts are not Western, but the original Egyptians), been intertwined with occidentalism in various conspiracy theories and tensions with the Muslim Brotherhood. Upon coming to power in 1970, Sadat immediately released the Brotherhood members who had been imprisoned during the previous regime. Many of them returned from exile, having fled during Nasser's rule to affluent Arab countries, amassing enough wealth to later have a strong impact on Egypt's economy. On the other hand, Sadat arrested and imprisoned both leftists and Nasserists. Even though, or perhaps because of, Sadat's Western orientation, the resurgence of the Brotherhood coincided with a rise in conservatism and fundamentalism vehemently opposed to the West, no less than it had been to the Soviets, leading to the eventual assassination of Sadat in 1981.
Since 1972, Copts have been attacked with some regularity by Egyptian Muslims, and the Egyptian state has failed to protect them. The infamous al-Khanka incident of 1972, in which a dispute over the transformation of a building into the premises of the Holy Bible Organization turned into a full-blown sectarian clash, resulted in the formation of a fact-finding mission commissioned by Sadat to pinpoint causes of such strife. The mission's Oteifi Report said it was investigating, among other things, "how far [such incidents] threaten national unity under the current sensitive circumstances that we are passing through, in our fight against the Zionist enemy and international imperialism."9 The report outlined three primary sources of sectarian strife: the licensing for building churches, Christian missionary work and, finally, the spread of Islamic religious books attacking Christianity and vice versa. The report recommended that the church present the government with an annual plan for building churches, in order to acquire immediate licensing whenever possible and gave a set of recommendations to avoid such incidents in the future. However, none of the report's recommendations were adopted, and problems continued to escalate. Indeed, Sadat, ten years later, in a 1981 speech, accused Pope Shenouda of "wanting to be a leader for personal gains" and of inciting strife. He was removed from office, and a committee was appointed to handle the affairs of the church.10
The pope was tried before a panel established in 1980 by Sadat known as the Morals Court, under the Law Protecting Morality from Shameful Actions. Consisting of judges and public figures, the "court" was more political than legislative. It condemned the pope and exiled him to the Wadi al-Natrun monastery. Soon after Sadat's assassination in 1981, the Morals Court itself was abolished and the pope reinstated after a prolonged legal battle with the state.
President Mubarak, on the other hand, alternated between a laissez-faire attitude toward the security of the Copts and a heavy-handed approach towards the opposition. Incidents targeting the Copts, from the very subtle to the outright violent, went unpunished. The year 1992 alone witnessed 37 attacks. In that same year, fundamentalists assassinated the Muslim secularist writer Farag Foda for his satires directed at them and his sympathy for the Copts' plight.
Despite cracking down on the fundamentalists of the Gamaa Islamiyya and Islamic Jihad, at times even destroying entire villages and taking their families hostage, the Mubarak government pursued a concurrent policy of Islamizing the state. The media utilized Islamic rhetoric, which at times was provocative to the Copts, especially when a prominent religious television "star," Shaykh Shaarawi, attacked Coptic beliefs. Religious programming consumed a large portion of airtime. Simultaneously, on the political front, the government constantly chose inefficient ministers of interior. One of them, Abdel Halim Moussa, was not only sympathetic to the Islamist extremists, he entered into what he called "dialogue" with them, allowing them certain freedoms and ignoring crimes in return for their ceasing attacks against tourists. His policy backfired; when news of the dialogue and his compromising actions reached the press, he was fired from his position.
Several assassination attempts occurred against government ministers of the interior and information officials and journalists.11 Most notable of the sectarian incidents was al-Kosheh in 2000; not unlike previous sectarian attacks, it began with minor incidents and grew exponentially as rumors led to an eruption.
The January 25 Revolution was preceded by several alarming incidents. In 2010, there was a Christmas shooting and murder of seven Copts; on New Year's Eve 2011, a car bomb killed 23 Copts in the Saints' Church in Alexandria. Massive salafi demonstrations were held in 2010 against Pope Shenouda. They were unusual in that no one had ever cursed the pope so openly in public, and they occurred in Cairo proper rather than on its outskirts or in villages. The heavy-handed approach of the Mubarak regime towards the people, in general, and the Islamists, in particular, created even more resentment against Christians; Islamists viewed the government as appeasing them. Amid rumors regarding conversion of Muslims by Christians and the kidnapping of Muslim women, tensions were rising. The escalation continued after the revolution took place.
As sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, jailed for several years by the Mubarak regime, points out, the atmosphere that causes people to believe these rumors and then act violently upon them is exacerbated by the media:
Whether the official media, which remained for five decades a monopoly broadcasting one message in one direction, or the [private] one, which doubled in the last ten years and has adopted the habit of stirring people [up], spreading the culture of conspiracy, labeling whoever disagrees with it in opinion, in race or in gender, or in religion, traitors or disbelievers. This type of media is a completion to bad education. Flattening the mind makes it easy to believe rumors and to be violent. 12
Other liberals, like the literature scholar Samia Mehrez, saw that disputes related to occidentalism were "culture wars."13 Ideas identified with the West — such as secularism and feminism — were viewed pejoratively. Some intellectuals were attacked in addition to Farag Foda and Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, who was stabbed in the neck in 1994, also by Islamists. In 1993, a scholar of Islam, Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, was taken to court by Islamists and accused of apostasy for some of his writings. An Islamist lawyer had filed a lawsuit to separate him from his wife, because a Muslim woman cannot be married to a non-Muslim (as an apostate is considered). The couple chose exile; the Mubarak government did not intervene in the case.14
Certain ideas received far more criticism than others as the Mubarak government attempted to out-Islamize the Islamists and tightly limit the potential for media exposés on offensive books or people by censoring them. More than 500 titles were then on a "Not for Circulation" list: they included books about Islam by non-Muslim authors, like Maxime Rodinson's Muhammad, which cost a young French-Egyptian professor at the American University in Cairo his job; critical works about Egypt, Islamism, Palestine and Saudi Arabia; and some about feminism or sex. Dr. Mehrez was threatened with deportation for using the novel al-Khubz al-Hafi in her course. The media published an attack, characterizing the book as corrupting "youth." The university banned it, a parliamentary committee reviewed it, and one of her colleagues referred to Mehrez and others from the 1960s in Liberaliyun min nawin khass.15 In 2000, Islamist students rioted over a book by Syrian author Haydar Haydar, Banquet of Seaweed, because of its allusions to the Quran from a secularist/atheist perspective. Some years later, the Islamist organization Lawyers Without Shackles went to court to ban an edition of 1001 Nights that had been published by Gamal Ghitani.
Outside the cultural arena, conflicts over occidentalism cropped up with regard to women's rights. In 1994, when civil society NGOs and some state actors attempted to set rules and laws regarding female genital mutilation (FGM), Islamists vehemently opposed the measures. When a film of the mutilation of a child was aired on CNN during the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the state itself reacted angrily and described it as a Western attempt to defame Egypt. Islamists vehemently opposed the ban, stating that, while FGM was not a sunna (based on Muhammad's words and deeds), it was a "preferred action" to ensure women's morality. However, following further NGO pressure, as well as the support of the grand mufti of al-Azhar at the time, regulations were enacted to limit FGM to clinics.
When the state acted in 1979 and 2000 to improve women's rights in family law, Islamists protested and vowed to rescind or appeal the reforms. Meanwhile, more ground was lost as sexual harassment burgeoned and expectations grew that women would wear modern-style Islamic dress. Conflicts increased over other issues such as apostasy, "insults to religion" and freedom of speech, as the salafist movement increased in strength.
Nevertheless, a segment of the left provided legal defense to the Muslim Brotherhood (via the Hisham Mubarak Legal Center and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights), linking the cause of Islamists with democratic aspirations and to protest violations by the regime of the Brothers' human rights.
As the January 25, 2011 upheaval began, the Muslim Brotherhood, with the exception of smaller youth movements, stayed out of the streets. Members of different opposition groups and activists protesting the death of Khalid Said on the Police Day holiday escalated their demands to include the end of the regime, as had occurred, surprisingly, in Tunisia. After President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down and the Supreme Committee of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took control, the movement broke the promises of its senior leadership by forming a political party, the Freedom and Justice party (FJP), and running a candidate for president. The Muslim Brotherhood's senior all-male leadership remained in place, directing the FJP behind the scenes. The FJP downplayed its anti-Western stances, and by virtue of its tighter organization, along with its allies, it proposed a commitment to madani (civil) values. Its salafist and other Islamist allies continued to eschew the values of secularism and use anti-Western tropes. At the same time, occidentalism was important as part of a construct of the movement's perceived enemies.
At this time, another conspiracy theory arose: the left charged the salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood with furthering the process of Westernized neoliberalism. This discourse circulated inside and outside of Egypt and had much to do with raising expectations of (and mythologizing) the proletarian revolutions as elaborated on by the left for decades — since the revolution in Egypt clearly diverged from this model.
The liberals are western agents.
There were many other political players on the Egyptian scene in addition to liberals and the Muslim Brotherhood, including those who supported Ahmad Shafiq in his bid for the presidency and others who are referred to as feloul, remnants of the old regime.
Suspicions about the true actors behind the revolution of January 25, 2011 were expressed in court cases against various U.S. and Egyptian NGOs, and similar ideas later emerged in legal charges filed against former President Mohammad Morsi. Liberals demonstrating in the streets and using social media to outwit security forces were accused of being agents of the West. According to this scenario, the United States wanted an end to Mubarak's rule and prior to the revolution had met with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as secular figures like Mohammad ElBaradei. Washington had invited activists to the United States to study nonviolent methods of regime change, and foreign NGOs were allegedly promoting sedition against Egypt.
Human-rights NGOs have been the targets of such accusations since their inception. However, despite being marginalized and limited to their offices, they indeed operated with strong connections to the West. This was used as a weapon against them following the fall of the Mubarak regime. In addition, court cases were filed against the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Freedom House and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in December 2011 in a case launched by former minister Fayza Aboul Nega. The charges: operating without a license and distributing millions of dollars to Egyptian NGOs. The Americans escaped charges; the Egyptians did not. The 16 Americans in the case escaped after sheltering in the U.S. embassy and posting a hefty bail; some of the Egyptians were put on trial. NDI bitterly charged Egypt with lacking any sense of justice16 or rule of law and called for U.S. military aid to be suspended. Some of the other protagonists wrote in The Atlantic and other Washington publications, following the June 30, 2013 regime change, this time in defense of the Morsi government, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Jazeera journalists. According to this case, the revolution that toppled Mubarak owed much to the funding activities of these groups. In fact, the revolution attracted wider support, but the power of the conspiracy theory only grew when certain factions of liberals supported the Muslim Brotherhood some months later.
Affiliation with the West is perceived as eroding Egypt's social and cultural autonomy. The youth themselves played into the perception that the revolutionaries were middle-class, English-speaking, tech-savvy elites who would further Western-style democracy and ideals. In turn, this funded
the international media's propensity — especially strong in the BBC and CNN — for finding what it lusts to find is on prominent display as they seek out protesters in Cairo and elsewhere who speak English, are middle-class professionals, and wax eloquent with admiration for the West. Having found this "evidence" the media then extrapolate from what must be regarded as a rather small sample and declare that Americans are watching "We the people" movements on the Arab streets.17
Affiliation with the West is also perceived as encouraging anti-Islamic and immoral behavior. Youth (and others) in Tahrir Square were attacked as immoral and accused in the media of lewd behavior. As youth did not try to dispel such accusations, they were seen by the general populace as dismissive, arrogant, rude, Westernized and anarchic, behaving in an alien and alienating manner.
Yet the liberals themselves were also expressing anti-Western attitudes, attempting to distance themselves from the West, while simultaneously seeking its support for the revolution. One of the slogans of the revolution was "O Obama, there are still a million Osamas!" The United States had long supported Mubarak, but at the same time, there were limits to its power, having been unable to stem Islamic terrorism. Egyptians also shouted: "Obama, stop supporting terror, stop supporting Mubarak!"
Not long after the revolution began, protestors attacked the Israeli embassy, an emblem of U.S. support for Israel in the heart of Egypt. They also attacked the downtown buildings of the American University in Cairo (AUC), believing there were snipers on its rooftops. On September 15, they removed the American flag from the university's rooftop because of what they termed "disrespect." As it appeared in one tweet: "Lisa [Anderson, the AUC president] failed to apply the principles she claimed that this university represents. Thus, we took down the flag and handed it over to her office."18 At the same time, SCAF's Facebook administrator announced that AUC is an American tool intended to bring about the "fall of Egypt."19 The revolutionaries also denounced U.S. intervention, especially in the initial stages, when Washington continued to express support for the Mubarak regime.20
When journalist Thomas Friedman, a supporter of pro-Israel U.S. policy, went to Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2012, the crowd met him with jeers and anti-U.S. chants. When he gave a speech at AUC,
Some students in attendance vocally protested Friedman's presence at the university, holding signs aloft asking, "Why a war crimes supporter at AUC?" "Our protest isn't just against Friedman — it's against the policies of our university, which were closely associated with the former regime," said Roqaya Tbeileh, president of the university's Quds Club, who took part in a small protest against Friedman's visit. "And now they bring a supporter of war crimes," she added in reference to the controversial writer.
During a question-and-answer session, Friedman faced the ire of Youssef El-Korma, a member of AUC's student leftist movement. "You can't come here with a smile and preach to us on democracy when you've been demeaning Arabs and supporting war crimes in Gaza and Iraq," said El-Korma. "We don't welcome you here."21
More recently, fueling the attacks on liberals is the state's security apparatus, which uses the media to spread inciting rhetoric against them. In particular, a program, aptly named al-Sunduq al-Aswad (the Black Box), leaked tapes of recordings among activists with, for the most part, innocent telephone conversations that appeared to be a grand conspiracy, mentioning funding, travel and external coordinators, in some cases. Every revolutionary leader has been recorded and all the conversations have been broadcast, "incriminating" them in the court of public opinion. They were all, including Muhammad ElBaradei, accused of being U.S. and "Zionist" tools of destruction and of deliberately creating chaos, not only in Egypt but in the entire region. In some cases, Freemasonry conspiracy was added to the charges.
CONSPIRACY 2 A
The Muslim Brotherhood strikes secret deals.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice party were, along with the salafists, the victors in the 2012 elections, although the results were and continue to be disputed. At first, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a salafi attorney who intended to force women to wear the veil and cancel the Camp David treaties, was the Islamists' leading presidential candidate. He was disqualified when it was asserted his mother held a U.S. passport (he claimed she only had a Green Card). Mohammad Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader who headed the FJP after he had escaped from prison (see below), was then chosen by his party to run for president, although he was also criticized for the fact that his sons hold U.S. citizenship.22 According to some observers, such as Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Shafiq won the election by 30,000 votes and there were many irregularities. However, the SCAF recognized Morsi as president; according to some, due to pressure by the United States.
With Islamists now controlling the government, multiple groups grew anxious about Egypt's new political direction — the expansion of Islamization and the suppression of Egypt's secular and civil-law traditions. Numerous events and policies indicated that President Morsi was allowing this to take place by arguing that the majority dictates in a democracy. Although the various factions were not by any means entirely or even mostly pro-Western, Morsi's allies among extremist Islamists, for example, portrayed them as such. For example, Tarek al-Zomor, a leader of the Gamaa Islamiyya and one of those convicted of planning Anwar Sadat's 1981 assassination, said, when liberals demonstrated in front of the U.S. embassy: "Demonstrators in front of the American embassy were hired to embarrass the regime."
The Islamist aspects of the 2012 constitution created under Morsi's auspices were the result of a large committee dominated by Islamists and judges. Morsi appointees took actions in the ministries of education and culture, such as denying the role of unveiled feminists in Egypt's history, and announced an intent to ban ballet (the Higher Institute of Ballet was established in 1966) and Islamize other arts. At a demonstration on what became known as "Qandahar Friday," Islamists flew only the black al-Qaeda flag and the Brotherhood's green banners, rather than Egypt's national flag, and shouted, "O Obama, there are still a million Osamas!"
Morsi appointed many Islamists as governors, including former leaders of the Gamaa Islamiyya, which had terrorized Upper Egypt. His government and security officials failed to respond to many attacks on Christians or to prevent a public lynching of Shia Egyptians.23 Morsi severed relations with Syria in June 2013 and expressed support for Syria's revolutionaries by "Egypt and its military" at an Islamist-organized conference in Cairo.24 These were just some of many actions that triggered opposition to Morsi.
Qatar played a role in fostering the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank, the Muslim Brotherhood and numerous Islamist groups in Syria and Libya; the small Gulf nation gave over $10 million to militias to fight Qaddafi's forces and allies. Qatar also reportedly gave $4 billion to President Morsi, adding to Egypt's cash reserves. One rumor concerned Qatar's efforts to acquire the Suez Canal; Egyptians heatedly questioned the Qatari prime minister about his country's influence when he visited Egypt in January 2013.25 Foreign influence by an Islamizing, Muslim country was thus as suspect as overt Western influence.
Another point of contention has been the role of al-Jazeera, the media outlet in which many Muslim Brotherhood affiliates are still found. Al-Jazeera's reportage gave the impression of success by revolutionaries and inflated the role of Islamists in Egypt and other countries of the Arab Spring. In Egypt, both al-Jazeera and al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr were unabashedly supportive of Morsi's government, attacking his liberal critics, particularly when the president acted in defiance of the constitution by declaring his decisions "immune from judicial review."26 This dominance of such an important media voice in the Arab world created even more of a crisis when the Tamarrod (Rebel) movement gathered more than 22,000 signatures by June 29, 2013, calling for President Morsi to step down.
The resulting enormous demonstrations in Egypt were downplayed by al-Jazeera. The Muslim Brotherhood hoped to spark civil disobedience and bring down the new government headed by interim President Mansour and established by Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi with the support of the military.
CONSPIRACY 2 B
The West (particularly the United States) aims to Islamize Egypt and the region.
The Muslim Brotherhood, al-Jazeera and nearly the entire Western press corps supported ousted President Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and its salafi affiliates, whereas a majority of Egyptians, utterly fed up with the Brotherhood, supported the election of President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi as the best pathway to stability. However, fears grew that a counter-counterrevolution was possible given the Brotherhood's armed opposition, its use of saboteurs and the support of other armed extremist allies fighting the government in the Sinai. Emissaries from the United States, acting on their own or with others, and Lady Catherine Ashton of the European Union made demands that former President Morsi and other Islamists be freed or returned to government.
The government closed al-Jazeera, however several journalists continued operating, as they were uninformed by al-Jazeera that it lacked permits. Accused by state security as the "Marriot Cell," they were tried and received harsh sentences. The Egyptian government banned the Muslim Brotherhood and declared it a terrorist group at the behest of the public. The government actually hesitated for some time to implement this policy in the fall of 2013. Given these dramatic events, the initial U.S. response seemed, to Egyptians, to be immensely supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood. They were startled by the seeming hypocrisy of the U.S. insistence that democracy must mean Muslim acceptance of Islamist rulers and principles, and by the many virulent media attacks calling for an end to U.S. economic and military aid to Egypt.
One reason for the attempted interventions and the "tone-deafness" of the West to Egypt's intent to rid itself of an Islamist government in the United States was the Muslim Brothers' strong representation in community organizations, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations, and longtime linkages with groups like the Islamic Society of North America and on university campuses and have influenced many political think tanks to support them as "moderate Muslims" who supposedly counter groups like al-Qaeda. Numerous articles appeared in the Egyptian press and on social media with information about such links. An example is the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT, associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in this article, but also with Hamas and Islamic Jihad).27 The IIIT, which had been devoted to the Islamization-of-knowledge project, had a large center and graduate program in Virginia (closed by the FBI) and a university in Malaysia, where some scholars in the field of MENA and Islamic studies have been supported.
In the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Germany, and to some degree in Italy and France, the Muslim Brotherhood is even stronger and better ensconced in seemingly independent community organizations. The UK government carried out an investigation into terror activities alleged by the Muslim Brotherhood after receiving information from important figures formerly associated with the group but declared in early August 2014 that the Brotherhood was not "terrorist" and that England is a haven for Egyptian Brotherhood families who fled.
CONSPIRACY 2 C
The Brotherhood engaged in treason, colluded with Hamas and the U.S.
Several lawsuits were filed against President Morsi, including alleged evidence of further conspiracies and treason. Hamas, an offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood, is accused, along with bedouin assistants, of aiding Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood figures to escape prison in 2011. The movement and the president supported Hamas while in power, as hundreds of tunnels to Gaza were constructed, and Palestinians moved into Egypt without consequence. Most shocking to ordinary Egyptians were claims that Morsi, with U.S. urging, intended to give areas of the Sinai Peninsula to Palestinians who could be settled there. According to some sources, the same idea had previously been floated by the United States to President Mubarak.28 Egyptian state media, as well as private channels, have responded to news items that appear to verify parts of these conspiracy theories (or actual malfeasance).
Some media personalities have gone much further, attacking Western machinations in Egypt outright or attacking other Egyptian perspectives without necessarily explaining what the "truth" is. Among them are Tawfiq Okasha, the above-mentioned show, the Black Box, and others. Dancer/actress Sama el-Masry hosted a show on the Feloul channel. She had built an audience with YouTube videos lampooning figures like Hazim Ismail, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and then moved on to President Obama, Muhammad ElBaradei and Bassam Youssef (for his criticism of the al-Sisi government).29 Sentiment ran so high against perceived threats to Egypt that the xenophobic tones of the private or state-media's casting of these issues reverberated and solidified public support for the government.
The Copts are Western agents.
Traditionally, the Coptic leadership has leaned towards stability and has not supported or even become involved in Egypt's political opposition. They believe the security of the Copts as a minority lies in being close to the government, given that the state could indeed make their lives difficult should it choose to. Following the January 25 Revolution, in which many Coptic youth participated, the sense of unity that the nation has enjoyed at brief moments in history was at its peak. With the fall of Mubarak, the church supported the revolution, albeit warily; it issued a statement that paid special tribute to the SCAF and expressed its support of a democratic Egypt through free and fair elections.
Nevertheless, the relationship between the army and the church was strained. The church was unable to rein in its youth, and the SCAF was not taking any serious steps to investigate the aforementioned Alexandria church bombing. Following the burning of a licensed church in Aswan in 2011, many Copts demonstrated in Cairo, protesting not only the arson, but also the Aswan governor's declarations that the church did not have a license, hence in a sense justifying the crime. People congregated in front of the Radio and Television Broadcasting Building, also known as Maspero. Clashes began when the army tried to disperse the protesters, resulting in the Maspero Massacre; 25 Copts were killed and more than 300 injured. The army sent in armored trucks and attacked the peaceful protesters. Its plain-clothes thugs, carrying guns, knives and other weapons, pursued some of them inside buildings, where they tried to hide from the onslaught. Meanwhile, officers searched for Copts and checked identity cards, looking for Christian names.30 Mohammed Gohar, head of the Tahrir 25 private channel, whose offices were close to Maspero, decided to hide the Copts in lavatories. The assault continued for over two hours, with Egyptian television inciting violence against the Copts through long tirades claiming the Copts were firing at the army and putting the blame solely on them.31
Reactions on the street varied depending on affiliation. Former general Omar Afifi, who fled to the United States while Mubarak was in power, claimed in a video message to Egyptians that the Maspero attack was a grand conspiracy perpetrated by SCAF with the aim of creating more chaos so that SCAF could maintain power, a claim that holds to this day. Islamist-extremist preacher-in-exile Wagdi Ghoneim called the Copts "traitor crusader pigs"32 and gave his distorted version of what allegedly occurred at Maspero. Islamists posted "warnings" about the "traitor Copts" who were killing soldiers, claiming they had amassed large weapons caches in churches and would emerge en masse after a call by "[Pope] Shenouda, the criminal U.S. and Israeli spy," to "attack all Muslims as they prayed on a Friday so that they kill at least one million Muslims" and "summon Western infidels to eliminate Muslims."33 Such absurd claims spread around social media sites and in leaflets distributed in different governorates.
When Copts chanted near Maspero that they wanted "international protection," this accusation was reinforced, and they were immediately called traitors.34 Recognizing the danger of such demands, Pope Shenouda rejected the international protection concept in a public statement, after which the SCAF's General Tantawi thanked him.35
As explained above, the final stage of the presidential elections gave the public a choice between a former regime member, Ahmed Shafiq, and Mohammed Morsi. During the campaign, the Muslim Brotherhood used religious propaganda to discredit any opposing party or candidate. It was also used during the parliamentary elections that followed. This was done to ensure the election of an Islamist president and a majority of Islamists in parliament.
Not surprisingly, Copts wanted a candidate who would protect their rights. While many became members of the secular-liberal al-Kotla party, when the choice came down to Morsi or Shafiq, the majority of Copts chose the latter. As a result, they were accused of being anti-revolutionary traitors. When news circulated that Copts would definitely vote for Shafiq, the Muslim Brotherhood's members in different governorates threatened them, preventing many Copts from voting or even leaving their homes on election day,36 a fact corroborated by the Ibn Khaldun Center, which monitored the elections.37
In 2012, a trailer for a film created by a Copt in self-exile in the United States surfaced on YouTube, attacking the Prophet Mohammed. Massive demonstrations by Islamists began in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo. An Islamist called for the closure of the embassy and withdrawal of the Egyptian ambassador from Washington.38 In response to the offending film, an Islamist tore the Bible, spat on it, and told people to stomp and urinate on it — in front of the U.S. embassy.39 This incident rhetorically joined both the Copts and the United States in a conspiracy to attack Islam.
Following the July 30 uprising and the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, an Islamist preacher, Khaled Harby, head of al-Marsad al-Islami (Islamic Watch), stated that the water in bottles being distributed to people by the police in Tahrir Square was "Coptic water which [Pope] Tawadros filled in bottles." This water, according to Harby, was "full of witchcraft and sorcery, prayed upon in their temples, as a plan by him to bring the downfall of the state, and turn masses of people against their Islamist president who believes in one God."40
Copts were also repeatedly accused of normalizing relations with Israel; some claimed there were flights transferring hundreds of them to Israel under the pretext of "visiting holy places," whereas in fact they were just spies.41
A prominent Islamist scholar, Selim al-Awwa, announced that churches were full of weapons and that it was a Muslim's duty to free the kidnapped Muslim women inside them, adding that churches and monasteries need to be inspected because they were "preparing for a war" against Muslims.42 Al-Awwa later recanted and apologized, but the damage was done.43 Having planted that seed in people's minds, it continued to germinate. Al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a statement claiming the "crusader" Copts and Pope Tawadros were seeking to bring down Morsi and form a Coptic state south of Egypt. According to him, Copts did not want a Muslim president but a secular one who would continue to use U.S. money for their Zionist conspiracy to divide Egypt as they divided the Sudan. He also claimed that the United States had planned the fall of Morsi and called on the Muslim Brotherhood to immediately apply shariah.44
On August 14, 2013, when the army decided to break up two Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins, resulting in many deaths, the Brotherhood and their supporters went on a three-day rampage across Egypt. They wrote graffiti on church fences and doors and, for the first time in Egyptian history, torched approximately 60 churches and church-affiliated establishments including orphanages.45 In addition, many homes and businesses belonging to Copts were looted and torched. Also for the first time in recent history, the Islamists marked Christian homes, businesses and establishments with an "x" in preparation for attacking them.46 Graffiti on the walls called the Copts and their pope Zionist crusaders. The FJP's Helwan branch asserted, "The Church participated in the removal of the first elected Islamic President — Pope accuses Islamic Sharia of being backward and regressive — Pope supports the Black Bloc group to spread chaos and surround mosques and storm them."47
The Coptic Church issued a statement supporting the army and asking the West to "read objectively the facts of events, and not give international and political cover to these terrorist and bloody groups."48
Prominent Coptic figures were also targeted. In 2012, during the Muslim Brotherhood regime, some extremist Aswan physicians decided to mount an attack against renowned Coptic surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub, who had opened a pro-bono heart-surgery center in Aswan. The physicians warned people not to go to the center because it was using pigs in creating heart valves.49 This was construed as a deliberate attempt by Yacoub to place forbidden pig parts into Muslims. Such claims caused a furor and extensive media debates, forcing the center to defend its practices.
More recently, pro-Sisi newspapers posted an interview with an economist who claimed that Yacoub was a spy or a mole. He said that Yacoub's center was a cover for UK-Israeli collaboration to divide Egypt into north and south.50 He even stated that the music for the commercials about the center was deliberately taken from the movie Schindler's List, which portrays Jews being saved during World War II. Such claims were similar to Islamist claims made about the Copts.
Salafis, clients of Saudi Arabia, could subvert the "Revolution of 2013."
Salafism has burgeoned in Egypt over the last 20 years (the Brotherhood is also a salafi organization). Salafism has had a profound effect on Egyptians, continuing the conservative Islamizing attitudes of the Mubarak era, in spreading intolerance to Christians, Jews and other minorities and non-conservative or Shia Muslims. At the same time, it has succeeded in leveraging itself as a social and political movement, having thrown its support to the military and then to the transitional Mansour government in July 2013. It walks a fine line, supporting implementation of shariah, yet declaring itself not to be a religious political party (like the Muslim Brotherhood).
A frequently heard conspiracy theory is that the salafis have prospered due to Saudi Arabia's support. They seek to emulate a society like Saudi Arabia, where Islamic law is strictly and narrowly interpreted. They are therefore linked with Saudi Arabia's support for the current Egyptian government, even though the neo-salafists in Saudi Arabia have proven quite a headache for that government. This conspiracy theory is popular with leftists, liberals and other critics of the current Egyptian government. It also resounds with the Muslim Brotherhood, whose bitterness at the perfidy of their former salafi allies is palpable.
Certain salafis close to the Brotherhood, who played a leading role in the Morsi government, were incarcerated in August 2013. A large group of extremist salafis has engaged in violent actions against Egypt's military, police and civilians accused of giving information about them. The Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, operating in the Sinai, beheaded seven people in August 2014 and is responsible for many attacks over the last year, as are other groups referred to as ansar Morsi (Morsi's supporters). Their ultra- or neo-salafist views are similar to those of Saudi Arabian and Yemeni actors like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, to which they may have ties, but not Saudi Arabia's government.
The al-Nour party, however, established by the Dawah Salafiyya, supported the transitional government of 2013 and the candidacy of Field Marshal al-Sisi. Nour had regarded Article 219 of the 2012 constitution as a great victory and was disappointed at its excision from the 2013 document, but its leaders had rejected Morsi for taking on extraordinary powers. Nour's detractors claim that the party was the creation of Saudi intelligence services or that it has been woefully naïve in agreeing to cooperate with the Muslim Brother's enemies,51 or that having a political party is less important than the survival of the movement. Some of the party's leaders set up a new party, Watan and Hazem. Abu Ismail created the al-Raya party.
Although the salafis are not unified, they are important to the current government. However, the dilemma for supporters of the military, liberals, secularists, Copts and others opposed to the Brotherhood is that the salafis also support implementation of shariah and many of the common goals of Islamists. While they profess allegiance to a civil (madani) state, their commitment to the Islamization of society is obvious. In this, too, they are likened to Saudi Arabia, with its public's support of fairly strict Islamic law.
Saudi Arabia has supported the current Egyptian government, most notably in grants of aid that shored it up: $5 billion immediately following the July 3, 2013, announcement of a new government and more later in the year. It also banned the Muslim Brotherhood within Saudi Arabia and called on Qatar to do so as well. King Abdullah traveled to Egypt for a visit in June 2014. With the ascension of King Salman, the relationship with Egypt is still close.
According to the claims of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, the salafis cannot challenge President al-Sisi because they are supported by Saudi Arabia. According to other anti-Saudi (but anti-Brotherhood) proponents, Saudi Arabia aims to control Egypt, but for its own purposes, as part of a regional battle to maintain a political balance against Iran, and will use salafis to Islamize Egypt. In response to such accusations, which arose even before President Morsi's year in office, Prince Talal bin Abdel Aziz responded that, while he personally supports moderate salafism, any financial support to Egypt's salafists is coming from individual salafists in Saudi Arabia and not the government.52
How can Egyptians find their way between the contradictory elements of these various conspiracy theories? Many cannot, or reject parts of one or another conspiracy, or allow their attitudes toward important national or regional issues to be influenced by these perceptions of antagonisms. Each conspiracy that we examined can be said to support some aspect of occidentalism (except perhaps for Conspiracy 4 regarding the salafists and Saudi Arabia).
Attributing events to the actions of external powers rather than blaming internal forces in Egypt is, rather obviously, a form of scapegoating and an antidote to powerlessness. Belief in such conspiracies predates the January 25 Revolution and may be a learned behavior, extremely difficult to relinquish and replace with a sense of power and responsibility. Hundreds of conspiracy theories have arisen from Egypt's tense relationship with Israel, despite the peace treaty and security cooperation in the Sinai. Other triggers for conspiracy theories may go back to the Nasser era.
Egyptians are able to laugh at certain instances of conspiracism: in August 2013, a stork was discovered in Egypt bearing a metallic device; it was accused of spying (though the device turned out to be a wildlife tracker used by French scientists). However, the military was obliged to absolve the stork of espionage to satisfy public concerns. A youth activist known as the "Spyder" started a bizarre conspiracy theory involving Abla Fahita, a puppet in an ad for Vodaphone, which he said involved a potential attack that would be perpetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. 53
Nonetheless, the conspiracy theories we discussed at length in this article were linked to certain kernels of truth. We must not take instances of conspiracism as mere paranoia. They reflect very important power struggles over Egypt's future.
1 Sadiq J. Al Azm, "Orientalism, Occidentalism, and Islamism: Keynote Address to 'Orientalism and Fundamentalism in Islamic and Judaic Critique: A Conference Honoring Sadik Al-Azm.'"
2 Sadiq J. Al-Azm, "Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse," October 1980.
3 Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit, Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (Penguin, 2004), 1-6. The book goes on to describe antipathy to urbanization and the values of the city (which has definitely been a theme in Egypt's literary and cinema culture), to rational or scientific thought, those outside Asian religions (infidels), and to the bourgeoisie.
4 Robert Woltering, Occidentalisms in the Arab World: Ideology and Images of the West in the Egyptian Media (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), xiii.
5 MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, founded by Yigal Carmon, is a Washington, DC-based group that also uses YouTube to expose anti-Semitism, barbaric jihadi-salafi views and hypocrisy in Arab and Muslim groups and governments. In the past, it has been used uncritically as a source of information by many in the U.S. government or the general public, perhaps indicating the strong role of Orientalism in terrorism studies and its sub-industries. MEMRI has also highlighted instances of what it deems positive messages to nations and the Arab or Islamic world, such as a recent speech by Egypt's President al-Sisi calling for reform of retrograde and extremist thought in Islam, delivered at al-Azhar on January 1, 2015. MEMRI has also usefully revealed statements by the Muslim Brotherhood and allied organizations that threaten Egypt or the West.
6 Muhammad al-Mashawi, "Furs yakhlaquha al-adwan al-Isra'iliyya," al-Shuruq, August 8, 2014, http://bit.ly/1nefvhe.
7 Although women were permitted to run for office in the Freedom and Justice party (below male candidates) and some served in President Morsi's government only as advisors.
8 Sherifa Zuhur, Colors of Enchantment: Theater, Dance, Music and Visual Arts of the Middle East (American University in Cairo Press, 2001), 7-8, 10, 12, 14-15.
9 "The Oteifi Report, 1972" Translated from Arabic by Marlyn Tadros, in The Copts of Egypt, from the "Forgotten" Minority to the "Happiest" Minority (Virtual Activism, 2007).
10 Sadat's speech before the People's Assembly and the Shura Council, September 5, 1981. Translated from Arabic by Marlyn Tadros, in The Copts of Egypt, from the "Forgotten" Minority to the "Happiest" Minority.
11 These reverberate in the current assassinations, as of the chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, in June 2015, and efforts to kill other officials, police and military.
12 Saad Eddin Ibrahim, "The Road of Thorns from Al-Khanka 1972 to Al-Kosheh 2000." Translated from the original by Arab-West Report, http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-7/21-road-thorns-al-khanka-1972-al-kosheh-2000.
13 Samia Mehrez, Egypt's Culture Wars: Politics and Practice (American University in Cairo Press, 2010).
14 The government's non-intervention encouraged the same Islamist attorney to file a similar divorce case against feminist Nawal al-Saadawi, ostensibly for remarks she made about the custom of kissing the black stone in Mecca. A similar case was filed against Toujan al-Faisal in Jordan as "culture wars" expanded across the region.
15 Mehrez, 312.
16 Various news stories related to the court case are linked on the National Democratic Institute's website, https://www.ndi.org/node/18650.
17 Michael Scheuer Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen: Moving toward Islam and away from the West. January 30, 2011, http://non-intervention.com/827/tunisia-egypt-and-yemen-moving-toward-islam-and-away-from-the-west/. Scheuer, a CIA operative, opposed the Bush administration's policies in Iraq and U.S. support of "Islamofascism," Saudi Arabia and Israel and did not accept the notion that the Arab Spring had democratic potential.
19 "Al-Gamaa al Amrikiyya zara Washington li asqat masr" [The American University is Washington's arm to bring about the downfall of Egypt], al-Masry al-Youm, Feb 9, 2012, http://www.almasryalyoum.com/news/details/150558.
20 Joseph Biden, for example, stated: "Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he's been very responsible relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing [the] relationship — with Israel. ... I would not refer to him as a dictator." In "Obama-Biden Support Mubarak, the Dictator," Huffington Post, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-grenell/obamabiden-support-mubara_b_815426.html.
21 "Thomas Friedman Talks Revolution, Islamism and Democracy in Cairo," Al-Ahram, 2012 http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/31284.aspx.
22 After an inflammatory trailer of a documentary film on the Prophet provoked riots, some asked Morsi and his sons to relinquish their American nationality, http://www.almasryalyoum.com/news/details/163700.
23 Sherifa Zuhur, "Claiming Space for Minorities in Egypt after the Arab Spring," in Moha Ennaji, ed., Multiculturalism and Democracy in North Africa (Routledge, 2014).
24 "Egypt's Morsi Severs Ties with Syria: Warns of 'Counter-Revolution' Violence," AhramOnline, June 15, 2013, http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/74082.aspx.
25 Muhammad Hisham Abeih, "Qatar on Defense over Meddling in Egypt" (in translation), Al Monitor, January 10, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2013/01/qatars-media-and-political-influence-over-egypt.html#.
27 "Washington Times: Ikhwan khattu li-tasallal ila al-jama`at wa-hukumah al-Amrikiyya," Al-Mogaz, May 18, 2013, http://almogaz.com/news/politics/2013/05/18/913329.
28 Abdul Sattar Hatita, "Mubarak Resisted U.S. Pressure to Give Up the Sinai: Secret Files," Asharq al-Awsat, August 24, 2014, http://www.aawsat.net/2014/08/article55335803. More details of the claims, which are by no means necessarily false (even though we are discussing them as conspiracy theories), are here: Azza Sedky, "What Construes Betrayal?" October 11, 2013, http://azzasedky.typepad.com/egypt/2013/10/what-construes-betrayal.html.
29 "Hips Don't Lie: Egypt [sic] Belly Dancer Seeks to Shake Rising Islamists," Al Arabiya, November 12, 2013, http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/11/14/249595.html; Sherifa Zuhur, "Breaking Bad: Sama al-Masry, Subversive Muallima of Egypt's June 30, 2013 Transition," Paper presented at the Middle East Studies Association meetings, Washington, DC, November 2014; and as a chapter in Bad Girls of the Arab Spring, edited by N. Yacoub, in process.
30 Eyewitness accounts inside Maspero Building and in particular the account of Mohammed Gohar, head of Channel January 25, who later fled to Canada, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb7ubXaG1Co.
33 "Baraat al-jaysh min dam al-aqbat" [Army is absolved of the blood of the Copts], Anti-Christianization Watch, October 13, 2011, http://www.tanseerel.com/main/articles.aspx?selected_article_no=31129.
35 "Tantawi yashkur al-Baba li-'adam tadwil qadayat Maspero" [Tantawi thanks the Pope for not internationalizing the Maspero incident], Al Mashhad, October 24, 2011, http://bit.ly/1pRgbxI.
36 George Ishak, "George Ishak: Mana al-aqbat min al taswit amr haqiqi" [George Ishak says preventing Copts from voting is a fact], June 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gfbD0Db6KpM.
37 F. Ali, "Ibn Khaldun lil-dirasat: rasadna mana aqbat al said min al-tasiet" [Ibn Khaldun Center for Studies: we monitored cases of preventing Copts from voting in election reruns], Al-Balad, June 24, 2012, http://www.el-balad.com/200272.
38 "Hazimun li-Morsi: Ighliq al-sifarah al-Amrikiyya wa-ishab al-safir al-Masri" [Hazemoon to Morsi: close U.S. Embassy and withdraw the Egyptian ambassador], Al Mogaz, September 14, 2012, http://almogaz.com/politics/news/2012/09/14/393359.
40 "Al-Marsad al-Islami: al miyah allati wazatha al-shurta fi-l-Tahrir miyah qabtiya sala alayha al-baba li- tahyig al-gamahir," Al Fajr, May 7, 2013, http://new.elfagr.org/Detail.aspx?secid=1&nwsId=376485&vid=2.
41 "Tatbian mubashiran maal ihtilal el sohyooni: jisr gawi lenakl mi'at min al-Aqbat eia Israel" [Direct normalization with the Zionist occupation], Al Mokhatasar, April 14, 2014, http://bit.ly/1qed5nw.
42 S. Mamdouh, "Al Awwa yatabara men tahridhu al sarih ala al-unf iban tafgir kanisat al-Iskandariyya" [Al Awwa denies his clear incitation for violence following the Alexandria Church explosion], Masreat, January 3, 2011, http://bit.ly/FOju1g.
45 Marlyn Tadros, Ikhwan et al's One Day Rampage, "Hakawi from the East: A Commentary on Insanity," August 15, 2013, http://hakawi.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/ikhwans-et-al-one-day-ramapage/.
46 Al-Masri Al-Youm, "X kalimat al-sirr fi istihdaf manazil al masihiyin wal-shurta tutalibhum bi-himayat anfushum" [x is the secret letter for targeting Christian homes and police asked them to protect themselves], August 19, 2013, http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/2046306.
48 "Egypt's Coptic Church Announces Support for Army, Police," Al Arabiya, 2013, http://bit.ly/1B573ZN.
50 "Abu Arayis: Markaz Magdi Ya qub yahdaf li-azl al-nuba an misr," Moheet.com, July 1, 2014, http://bit.ly/1sRDDcy.
51 Jonathan A.C. Brown, "The Rise and Fall of the Salafi al-Nour Party in Egypt," Jadaliyya, November 14, 2013 (an attack on the 'naïve' Nour party for adhering to its alliance with the Mansour governemnts), http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/15113/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-salafi-al-nour-party-in-e.
52 "Saudi Prince: Saudi Arabia Would Never Support Egypt's Salafis," Egypt Independent, January 23, 2012, http://www.egyptindependent.com//news/saudi-prince-saudi-arabia-would-never-support-egypts-salafis.
53 Mahmud El Shafey, "Egypt: Conspiracy Theories Grow Around Puppet Abla Fahita," Al-Sharq al-Awsat, January 3, 2014, http://www.aawsat.net/2014/01/article55326461.