Middle East

Egypt unrest: Muslim Brotherhood vows to stay on street

An Egyptian woman tries to stop a military bulldozer from hurting a wounded youth
Image caption Protesters tried to stop the bulldozers from destroying their camps

The Muslim Brotherhood vowed to remain in the streets, and they stood by their word. More of their supporters are on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities in Egypt.

Egyptian security forces have already cleared Nahda Square, one of two camps where Mr Morsi's supporters have been staging a sit-in for weeks. It is going to be a bigger and harder battle in the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in in eastern Cairo.

"We are ready to die," one Muslim Brotherhood supporter told me. "Freedom is not cheap and we are willing to pay the price."

I asked the senior Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Sudan if there was any prospect of them packing up and going home. "No, we will go to the grave yard," he replied.

With so much at stake for the Muslim Brotherhood, no wonder they see this as a fight for survival. This is a movement that is not only fighting to regain some of the power that was taken from them in a matter of days; this is a group fighting for its very existence.

Underdogs again

After millions took to the streets calling for President Mohammed Morsi to be ousted - and for the Muslim Brotherhood to be removed from power - the rhetoric among millions of Egyptians has been highly antagonistic to the group.

Image caption The Muslim Brotherhood and the government have used ever sharper rhetoric

Ironically, though, the Islamist group is in its comfort zone. The Muslim Brotherhood have always been the underdogs.

They have always confronted those in power and were always the best and most organised in rallying their supporters on the streets and that is exactly what they're doing now.

The difference is that now the whole world is watching and they have the card of a democratically-elected president ousted by the army to play. But they also have a large chunk of Egyptian society who have lost trust and faith in them after their year in power.

Any talk about political prospects and solutions now is too optimistic. Both the Muslim Brotherhood and the government have upped the rhetoric to the extreme and no one wants to look weak in front of their constituents now.

The Brotherhood have maintained defiantly that they are not going anywhere until Mohamed Morsi is reinstated and although that is a nonstarter for the interim government the Islamist group does not want to be seen as backing down now.

It'll take a lot of explaining to their constituents if they decide to sit and negotiate with an interim government they have described as illegitimate.

Image caption Mr Morsi remains in detention along with several Brotherhood leaders

Members regroup

Details are very murky about the whereabouts of the Muslim Brotherhood top leadership. Not much has been heard from the Supreme Guide (or Morshed in Arabic) Mohamed Badee.

The group's second-in-command and strongman Khairat al-Shater is still in prison, as is the ousted President Morsi himself, who is still being held in an undisclosed location.

But this is not new for the group.

Their leaders were detained many times during the rule of former President Hosni Mubarak, but the group has always been able to function.

Orders will always come from the Guidance Bureau and trickle down the hierarchy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo and across Egypt.

For now, the orders seem to be to regroup and take to the streets. What is unclear is how long this situation can last, how far it will spread and whether the Muslim Brotherhood supporters can outstay the security forces on the streets.

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