President of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Essam Al-Erian, has set off a twitter-firestorm with a tweet sent Wednesday morning. The tweet outlines “reasons for the failure of leftists.”
Leftists responded angrily. For many of them, the tweet feeds into the feeling that they have been slapped in the face by a political party for whom they had sacrificed so much to support in the presidential runoff election.
Al-Erian’s tweet read: “Foreign influence, external funding, preoccupation with security, fragmentation and neglect of the role of religion amounting to contempt, elitism and arrogance are the most prominent reasons for the failure of leftists.”
This came after an earlier tweet by Al-Erian that implored communists and leftists to study the way a plant will die if it is not planted in its natural environment. Al-Erian, apparently unaware of the widely proven ability of introduced plants throughout the world to flourish in alien environs, goes on to say that in the Arab world the environment of Islam is too strong to let certain foreign plants grow.
Revolutionary activist and former candidate for Minister of Communication, Dr. Hazem Abdel Azim tweeted, “Essam Al-Erian. Have you no shame, man? Do you have any idea how many Egyptians haي to squeeze lemons on themselves [an Egyptian turn of phrase meaning the same as “to bite the bullet”] to allow Morsy to rule?”
While Al-Erian’s tweet does not necessarily speak on behalf of the FJP or the Muslim Brotherhood, and while there was no outpouring of support for Al-Erian’s comments, there was also the absence of condemnation. “I haven’t read a single comment from a member of the Muslim Brotherhood objecting to Essam Al-Erian!” tweeted human rights activist Gamal Eid.
The words are clearly salt in the wound for the various leftists who agreed to support Mohamed Morsy’s candidacy in June. At the time, many leftists explicitly stated that they were against the Muslim Brotherhood’s actions and policies, insisting that their support was a regrettable but essential step for the maintenance of the revolution in the face of SCAF actions that were threatening to derail a transition to civilian rule.
Wael Khalil, a revolutionary icon who showed solidarity with Morsy’s candidacy in the runoff, spoke with the Daily News Egypt about the tweets saying, “There’s no personal shock here.” Khalil said that he and other revolutionaries have always been well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood consisted of some members trying to reach real political results through compromise and consensus building, and also those who were happy to fan sectarian flames with comments like Al-Erian’s. “It is a good opportunity to highlight that this is not what we need now,” Khalil said. “This is not a serious discussion of the challenges ahead.”
Many also pointed out the ironic timing of Al-Erian’s comments condemning “external funding” on the day the International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde arrived in Cairo to discuss President Morsy’s loan-increase request of a reported $4.8 billion.
Ahmed Maher, the April 6 founder who caught flack for his pragmatic support of Morsy’s candidacy simply posted a link to Um Kolthoum, that great bard of the Nile Delta, singing “Your tears are hard to come by (you cruel-hearted man).”