Hazem Kandil at Dissent:
A reputation established over eight decades collapsed in less than eight months. Islamism, an ideology that carved its name from Islam, had always been synonymous with it in the minds of many. The Egyptian Muslim Brothers, who had invented and embodied this ideology since 1928, were perceived as fervent believers who went beyond practicing religion to promoting and defending it. But a gathering rebellion against the country’s first Brotherhood president changed all that.
On the eve of the 2013 popular uprising against Muhammad Morsi, Brothers organized preemptive sit-ins in several locations around the country. The biggest crowd camped around Cairo’s Raba’a al-‘Adawiya mosque. For forty days, unsuspecting Egyptians tuned in (some even strolled in) to witness for themselves what Brothers said and did. It was a rare opportunity to eavesdrop on this exceptionally discreet group. And what they saw and heard was quite different from what they were used to from the usually minted Brothers: political competitors were religiously condemned; images of Prophet Muhammad’s epic battles were conjured; biblical stories, from David and Moses to Armageddon, were invoked; allegations that Archangel Gabriel prayed at the Islamist campsite were flaunted; and sacred visions were relayed on stage night after night. This was not the vocabulary Brothers typically employed. Almost overnight, many Egyptians panicked. Who were these strangers, they wondered?