How the pendulum swings…three years ago, the Muslim Brotherhood was running the Egyptian government after being swept into power in presidential and parliamentary elections. Now the pro-military government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi jails Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters at will–and here’s the latest: Cairo’s main teaching hospital and its branches have banned women staffers from wearing the niqab at work. That’s the full-face Islamic covering that leaves only a slit for the eyes.
Will there be protests? Probably. Will they fill Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo and force a change? Not likely. Media, especially Western media, tend to concentrate their coverage on the small number of liberal critics of the heavy-handed government, and here, too, in this Egypt Independent article, you can see some of that–but the vast majority of Egypt’s people are either fed up with years of turmoil and want some stability, even at the expense of some freedoms they never really had in the first place–or they’re afraid to protest. Or both.
El-Sisi will be able to do pretty much whatever he wants as long as he moves Egypt’s economy along in the right direction. He’s trying to reform subsidies, and he’s reaching out for economic alliances to China, Russia and others, but the scope of Egypt’s economic crisis is so huge that the outcome is still uncertain–especially since he also has to pay attention to the jihadi threat based in the Sinai, spilling over more and more frequently into Egypt proper.