City squares across Egypt filled with demonstrators this week. Tens of thousands are protesting against Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi.
He announced that he was grabbing sweeping new powers and legal immunity. Hundreds of thousands were set to march in Cairo as Socialist Worker went to press.
Tahrir Square in central Cairo is the heart of the protests, as it has been throughout the revolution. Revolutionary Socialist Hatem Tallima spoke to Socialist Worker from the square on Monday.
“There are tens of thousands here, and also thousands are out in Suez, Alexandria, Port Said and other towns,” he said.
“University and school students are here, as well as workers in the independent unions. I have seen doctors who have been striking now for four months. We are all united against Mursi.”
Some people who support the revolution have opened the door to collaboration with figures from the regime of Hosni Mubarak, such as former foreign minister Amr Moussa.
“There were some ‘feloul’ who tried to join the demos,” said Hatem. “They are the old Mubarak people who oppose Mursi because they want to get back in power.
“Some politicians including Mohamed ElBaradei and Nasserist Hamdeen Sabbahi have cooperated with them. But the feloul are not on our side. We drove them out of the square.”
Mursi wants to entrench his power. He had success on the international stage this week. Some saw him as the one who forced Israel into a ceasefire in its war on Gaza.
But millions in Egypt want more. “He is losing popularity by the day,” said Hatem. “Lots of people voted for Mursi as they thought he would represent them.
“But they are now seeing the reality of his economic and political policies. Some people here in Tahrir supported him and are the most angry about what he has done.”
Mursi’s constitutional manoeuvres have been seen by some in the West as further proof that Islamist dictatorship is looming in Egypt and talk of comparisons with Iran.
In fact, the show of strength by the revolutionary movement in the streets suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood remains under immense pressure from below.
Unlike Ayatollah Khomeini, who came to the head of and then crushed the revolution in Iran, Mursi’s attempts to claim revolutionary legitimacy have so far backfired.
The Egyptian economy is in crisis. Mursi wants to attack peoples’ living standards, not raise them. The mass of ordinary Egyptians want the revolution to fulfil their aspirations for a better life.
Around 1,000 strikes greeted the Brotherhood’s government in its first two months in office—many organised by people who had supported Mursi.
This is the greatest source of tension between the Brotherhood and its mass base of poor and working class voters and supporters. Linking the fight for social justice with the struggle for democracy can guard against the return of the old regime.