The Muslim Brotherhood’s economic and service activities arose at a time when more than half of the Egyptian population lived below the poverty line and there was a complete absence of state and institutions intended to provide services for the poorest segments of society.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s economic and service activities arose at a time when more than half of the Egyptian population lived below the poverty line and there was a complete absence of state and institutions intended to provide services for the poorest segments of society.

For over six decades, the Muslim Brotherhood presented itself in society as an alternative to the state and approached the poor class of Egyptians and providing them with numerous services: taking care of orphans and widows, offering meat bazars at discounted prices, and providing school supplies and household items at wholesale prices.

The popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood among the poor was thus reflected in the last elections. The Brotherhood’s opponents even accused them of exploiting the financial needs of the poor to get their votes.

Alternative services

However, over the past six months, the Muslim Brotherhood strategy has changed and deviated from the track they followed for several decades of providing economic and livelihood services for the needy. Their service activities have completely disappeared and the economic support they used to provide for orphans, widows and the poor has been cutoff, raising the big question about the reasons behind stopping their community services. Is it a kind of punishment against those who rose against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood on June 30?

Dawlat A, a widow and mother of four children from Tira Village in Nabrouh District in Dakahlia, said since the death of her husband in October 2004, she has tried for months to get financial support from the state to help her provide for her family.  But Dawlat A has been faced with numerous obstacles, as her husband used to be a waged farmer.

Social Affairs eventually allocated 150 Egyptian Pounds ($US 22) for Dawlat A and her kids—not enough to even buy bread. However, she was approached by a group of men from her village known for their affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood who told her that a wealthy brother has taken responsibility of her and her four children and allocated a monthly salary for their support. The Muslim Brothers were her mediators and the rich man who helped her remained anonymous upon his request.

Dawlat added that since the elections of the people’s assembly in 2005 until the presidential elections in 2012, she was collecting votes for the Muslim Brotherhood as a kind of gratitude for their generosity. Her salary was suddenly cut off last June and she was told that the circumstances have changed and that she would have to manage alone until things got back on track.

“I have never been interested in politics. All I know is that when the government abandoned me and my children, the Muslim Brothers helped me out of piety and religious duty as they told me when I received my first salary,” she remembered. “I have no means to provide for my family now and although my state salary has increased to 250 Egyptian Pounds (US $36), it is still not enough. I do not know why the Muslim Brothers have cutoff their support and I do not know how to provide for my kids who are at different educational levels. I even sold my household items to sustain us, but I have nothing left and cannot find a way out.”


Tarek Barbary, Secretary of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party in Dakahlia said the Muslim Brotherhood exploited the needs of the poor as well as the absence of the state’s role with the beginning of Anwar Sadat’s regime (1970).

Barbary explained that as a result of the state’s disregard of its role and the great economic status of religious groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, they were able to reach the poor and provide them with daily goods like oil, sugar and meat. “Such support works as painkillers that do not eliminate the illness and keep those in need always dependent on the providers,” said Babary.

Barbary added that this assistance has always been exchanged with electoral votes. “But Egyptians realized their tricks once the Muslim Brotherhood took power,” he said. People saw their bad performance at all levels, whether political or economic in addition to their obsession with power. People revolted against the Muslim Brotherhood in a mass revolution on June 30, demanding their fall. Here the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy has turned into a punishment one against those who demonstrated against them, so they stopped all their social, economic and service activities offered for the poor.”

 “Oppression by security is the reason”

Ahmad Othman Hijazy, Muslim Brotherhood leader and Secretary of the Freedom and Justice Party in Mansoura, has a different opinion. Hijazy said the Muslim Brotherhood has not cut off their support of poor Egyptians and explained that such support is a gift from the Muslim Brotherhood. “It is the right of those people abandoned by the state,” he said.  “It is a religious duty before a humanitarian and social one.”

Hijazy also said the discontinuance of the Muslim Brotherhood’s services in the past six months was due to the repression of the state security apparatus and its harsh crackdown of any service activity made by the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Security has also resorted to killing, detaining and terrorizing all of our organizers and participants. Therefore, all the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities have been affected by the repression of security forces of the coup.”

“The Muslim Brotherhood since established have worked on serving all categories of society voluntarily without returns and will never stop playing this role neither now nor in the future.”