It was rushed to a referendum, where it passed with a hearty 63 percent of the vote — but only just over 32 percent of the electorate casting ballots.
Meanwhile, Brotherhood members and other Islamists were steadily were given more posts across the government, fueling a perception that they were taking over institutions — though they constantly faced resistance on many fronts from the entrenched bureaucracy. Islamist rhetoric from officials and clerics on TV rang in the ears of many as divisive and harsh.
Morsi’s ouster could now send the Brotherhood into disarray for years to come, just as a major crackdown on the group did in 1954. Morsi and many of his advisers have been put under house arrest, and he could face trial for escaping prison during the 2011 uprising. Two top leaders of the group, including the head of its political party Saad el-Katatni, were arrested and at least 30 more were expected to meet the same fate.
The danger now could be that a heavy crackdown will turn into forcibly excluding them from politics once more. The Brotherhood was banned for much of its 83-year existence. But it still maintains a powerful, organized and disciplined network of members nationwide.
‘‘The forceful removal of the nation’s first democratically-elected civilian president risks sending a message to Islamists that they have no place in the political order; sowing fears among them that they will suffer yet another bloody crackdown; and thus potentially prompting violent, even desperate resistance by Morsi’s followers,’’ the Brussels based International Crisis group warned in a statement.
Hendawi is the AP’s chief of bureau in Cairo. Keath is the AP’s Middle East enterprise editor. Both have covered the Middle East for the AP for more than a decade.