When the conversation in Egypt turns to politics, the predominant topic is the conspiracy between the United States and the Muslim Brotherhood to destroy Egypt. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/26/world/middleeast/as-egyptians-ignore-curfew-talk-of-a-us-brotherhood-conspiracy.html?ref=world The idea is widespread among supporters of the military, which ousted the Muslim Brotherhood’s elected president, Mohamed Morsi, last month.
For journalists who ventured out Saturday night in violation of the curfew, the biggest danger was not from police officers and soldiers at checkpoints, but from angry men with a grudge against Al Jazeera, the Western press and America.
Patrons of the Red Apple Cafe ignored the new 9 p.m. curfew, elicited bountiful conspiracy theories, all of them involving America’s plan to destroy Egypt through its paid Brotherhood confederates.
“Americans are with the Muslim Brotherhood,” Farouq stated in a tone suggesting that it was common knowledge. “O.K., you did something good when you killed Osama bin Laden, but now you are with Al Qaeda. You support the terrorists.”
A strong anti-American undercurrent has always existed in Egypt, but such views are more normally associated with radicals and Islamists, and in reaction to American support for Israel.
One next door to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for instance, shows President Obama with a beard like those worn by the Brotherhood, alongside a more flattering picture of the clean-shaven military leader, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.
Youm 7, which claims to be the Arab world’s biggest news Web site, recently invited reader reactions to a forum titled “America and Al Qaeda: One Hand Against Egypt.” Hundreds responded.
“Maybe it’s insane,” allowed Khaled Salah, Youm 7’s editor in chief, “but we are in a time when crazy things are happening.” Egypt’s leaders have carefully avoided anti-American rhetoric, Mr. Salah said. “After a time, rationality will return.”
The origin of the idea of a terrorist-friendly America is opaque. Many cite money given to the Brotherhood, but what they are referring to is the $1.5 billion in American aid to the government of Egypt, which flowed to Mr. Morsi’s government as it did to the government before it, and as it continues to do since the military takeover. Most of that, $1.2 billion, goes to the Egyptian military, and none of it goes to the Brotherhood.
Many Egyptians refer to YouTube clips played repeatedly by the pro-military news media, quoting Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas, who recently equated giving $1.5 billion in aid to the Morsi government with support for terrorists.
Back in the Maadi neighborhood, supporters of the military offered similar theories. “The American and Muslim Brotherhood project is to separate Egypt into different parts,” shouted Yahyeh, a builder, his face contorted with hatred. Ahmed, an engineer who said he had worked 22 years for Xerox in Cairo, was only slightly less hostile. “Egyptians have always liked America, but now they don’t understand how it has changed,” he said.