CAIRO: A climate of fear that kept Egyptians compliant during the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak is creeping back into daily life, less than three years after the revolt that toppled him. Ordinary people like Mohamed, who runs a tiny Cairo shop selling mobile phone accessories, now lower their voices if they oppose the army’s overthrow last month of their first freely-elected president, Mohammed Mursi.
“It is about the principle that we stood in line and voted freely for the first time and this happens,” whispered Mohamed, who declined to give his second name. “People who speak about justice now do not dare to say it out loud, in case people accuse them of being terrorists.”
While activists critical of the army-backed government are obvious targets for intimidation, now ordinary Egyptians also avoid the noisy, boisterous discussion of politics that was common between the fall of Mubarak and that of his Islamist successor on July 3.
From mass arrests of Muslim Brotherhood leaders to the re-appearance of plain clothes enforcers on the streets of Cairo, a chill wind is blowing down the Nile.
Many Egyptians lambasted Mursi’s Brotherhood for economic incompetence and trying to grab excessive power during his year in power. But now the language is much more serious: the government accuses the Brotherhood of “terrorism” as it tries to crush the movement by rounding up hundreds of leading members.
At least 900 people have been killed since security forces broke up two pro-Mursi camps on August 14. REUTERS