(Cairo) – Egypt marked the anniversary of its people’s June 30 uprising against the Muslim Brotherhood.
But as Egypt memorialized the event, which has had far-reaching effects on its political, economic and ideological course, the Brotherhood, which was once the most vibrant Islamist organization in the world, was almost crushed.
Addressing the nation on the uprising anniversary, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said his administration had moved a long way in destroying the organization.
“We have obliterated the infrastructure of the terrorist organization,” Sisi said in a televised address on June 30.
In the six years since the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, the movement had moved from the top to the bottom of political power, not only in Egypt, but also everywhere else.
The Brotherhood started in 1928 as a charity educational organization that won the hearts of millions of Egyptians over the following decades.
It fell afoul of Egypt’s successive regimes, but was tolerated most of the time, sometimes used by these regimes to crush the leftists and other times to tip the balance of the ruling elite against the liberals.
When its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, a physics professor who used to head the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, won the 2012 presidential elections, the first following the 2011 revolution against longstanding president Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood had an unprecedented chance to prove its rhetoric about reform, justice and development more than just a set of empty slogans.
The organization lost almost all its popularity in a matter of one year only, having failed to deliver on its promises or improve the living conditions of the vast majority of the public.
“It had also radicalized society, which portended a disastrous future if the people had not moved against it,” said veteran writer Sakina Fouad. “The people had quickly realized that this movement was not fit to rule them another year.”
The people’s uprising against the Brotherhood on June 30, 2013, got backing from the army. But this opened the door for massive violence by Brotherhood members and sympathizers who attacked state institutions, burned down dozens of churches and killed dozens of policemen.
The Brotherhood’s removal from power in Egypt was the beginning of the end for the regional Islamist revival which started with the Arab Spring revolutions that swept through most of the Arab world in 2011.
In Egypt, the authorities started a very fierce campaign against the Islamist movement, labeling it a “terrorist organization” in late 2014 and disbanding its party.
Egyptian authorities also confiscated billions of dollars in Brotherhood funds, laid control on hundreds of Brotherhood institutions and froze the assets and the money of dozens of Brotherhood businessmen, affiliates and figures.
These measures deprived the organization of important financing channels and made it less capable of bankrolling its violent activities against Egyptian state institutions.
The security establishment also cracked down on Brotherhood-affiliated militias that killed a huge number of policemen in the past six years in lone-wolf attacks nationwide.
The capabilities of most of these militias have been reduced to nothing now, even as some of them maintain sleeper cells that are ready to act at any time.
Brotherhood leaders are also either in Egyptian jails, or living in Turkey and Qatar, two main state sponsors of political Islam and Islamist movements.
At the political level, the Brotherhood’s condition cannot be worse. Morsi died in court on June 17, bringing to an end Brotherhood calls for his return to power.
The organization’s affiliates inside Egypt have either broken ranks with it or are afraid to openly express their political loyalties.
The Brotherhood’s leadership outside Egypt has turned into a mere media phenomenon that keeps inciting the public against Sisi’s regime, but with little effect.
“This movement was a major stumbling block on Egypt’s road to progress,” said Egyptian political thinker Makram Mohamed Ahmed. “It is good only at exploiting the Islamic religion in achieving political gains that have nothing to do with Islam.”