As the chaos in Egypt worsens, anti-Islamist protesters are becoming increasingly frustrated with President Barack Obama’s perceived support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
This past weekend, millions of Egyptian citizens took to the streets in order to protest the Islamization of their government. President Obama has failed to take a clear stance on the mass demonstrations in Egypt against Muslim Brotherhood-aligned President Mohamed Morsi, urging restraint on all sides.
“We’d like to see the opposition and President Morsi engaged in a more constructive conversation around how they move their country forward, because nobody is benefiting from the current stalemate that exists there,” Obama said during a press conference in Pretoria, South Africa, this past weekend.
Middle Eastern policy expert at the Brookings Institution, Khaled Elgindy, told The Daily Caller that the opposition camp largely see the U.S. as “swapping out Mubarak for Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“They believe this is another situation where the U.S. is supporting an authoritarian or undemocratic ruler against the will of the people,” Elgindy said.
The Obama administration’s alleged support of the Brotherhood-led government is deeply unpopular with protesters, who some sources estimate numbered up to 14 million on Sunday.
Mamdouh Badr is an Egyptian activist who works as a lawyer in Dubai, and has produced videos for the Tamarod, or “rebel” anti-Islamist movement. Badr, who is currently attending the protests in Egypt, told The Daily Caller the crowds were highly critical of U.S. foreign policy.
“In downtown Cairo there were signs about the U.S. interfering in Egypt’s internal policies, backing the MB, asking Obama to stop supporting terrorism in Egypt, to stop supporting the MB as a terror organization in their opinion,” he said.
“I think people are very focused now that the U.S. is a big player in the game. Five-six years ago, you wouldn’t find people as outraged about the foreign powers’ effect,” said Badr.
Others noted a distinct anti-U.S. flavor to the protests as well.
— Mai Shams El-Din (@maishams) June 30, 2013
The U.S. ambassador in Egypt, Anne Patterson, was also highly unpopular with the opposition, as she is widely perceived as supportive of the Brotherhood.
On June 18, she was reported as covertly urging Christian Copts to refrain from attending the protests. Numerous signs showed Patterson’s face with a large red cross on it, and one even urged Egyptians to “kick this bitch out of Egypt.”
In ittihadeya- a sign against US ambassador Patterson pic.twitter.com/fDyd19rXnv
— Kristen Chick (@kristenchick) June 30, 2013
At least 16 were killed during the weekend protests, and enraged protesters torched the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters. Earlier, on Friday, several were killed in Alexandria, including the 21-year-old American college student Andrew Pochter.
As protesters plan further mass demonstrations until Morsi steps down, Obama urged Egyptians to follow peaceful means as they strive for democracy.
“We are supportive of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly inside of Egypt, but we would urge all parties to make sure that they’re not engaging in violence, and that police and military are showing appropriate restraint.”
While in Tanzania on Monday, Obama said that Morsi’s election was a result of decades without democratic elections.
“And that’s what the people were calling for,” Obama said. “They went through an election process that, by all accounts, was legitimate, and Mr. Morsi was elected. And the U.S. government’s attitude has been we would deal with a democratically elected government.”
Despite the Egyptian military’s 48-hour ultimatum, Obama has not taken a stance as to whether or not Morsi should step down.