On August 22, several hundred Egyptians and Egyptian-Americans hit the streets of Washington DC to show their support for General Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and the regime that overthrew the elected President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup on July 3.
After surrounding the offices of the Washington Post to demand that the paper cover the attacks on Coptic churches (the paper has covered the subject extensively), the demonstrators converged at the Egyptian embassy. There, the rally took on a festive atmosphere, with about 100 demonstrators singing along to nationalistic songs, hailing Sisi as their hero, and chanting against the “terrorist” Muslim Brotherhood and the man simultaneously funding them and receiving their millions: Barack Obama.
Under the heavy influence of ultra-nationalist Egyptian media outlets like CBC and OnTV, which recently rebroadcast a long Fox News segment featuring the right-wing militarist Ralph Peters railing against the Muslim Brotherhood, the demonstrators rattled off a series of conspiracy theories recycled from right-wing American Islamophobes.
After explaining to me that the hundreds of supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi killed by Egyptian security forces in the past week were actually shot in the back by Muslim Brotherhood gangs that also use children for human shields (like Hamas in Gaza, I was told), I was informed that the White House is infested with a Muslim Brotherhood sleeper cell.
“There is 6 Brotherhoods in the White House, six members of the Brotherhood in the White House,” a thirty something man told me. “So that’s where Obama’s getting his ideas. That’s like the filter of the ideas that come to Obama. When he gets the memos, they come through these people.”
The sleeper cell conspiracy theory originated on the pages of the Egyptian magazine Rose al-Yousef and was enthusiastically promoted by the anti-Muslim writer Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project. Pamela Geller, the professional Islamophobe, has also sought to advance the notion that the Muslim Brotherhood has “penetrated” the White House.
Finally, I learned that the Muslim Brotherhood was behind Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal. Working through the Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who has been named by fringe Islamophobes like Walid Shoebat as a secret Muslim Brotherhood operative, the Brotherhood has attempted to bring down the Clinton machine, manufacturing an embarrassing scandal that somehow forced Weiner to transform into Carlos Danger.
Many of the demonstrators were members of a Coptic community that has been a target of demonization and violent attacks back in Egypt, especially in recent weeks. Churches have been burned and vandalized around the country in a coordinated fashion, with Christians blaming Islamist mobs for the violence. Meanwhile, Coptic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sadrak and several Egyptian bishops praised the Egyptian army and police after they massacred over 600 pro-Morsi protesters at the Rabaa sit-in.
As sectarianism deepens and conspiracism rises, Egypt continues down a dark path that seems to have no end. And many are celebrating the strongman leading the way.