Volume 43 Number 1
Published: January 22, 2016
Egypt's Islamist forces, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, have been known for their broad‐based populist base, one which was partly associated with their extensive welfare outreach. Yet how do we account for the disconnect between the Islamists and the youth uprisings at the wake of the revolution? This article argues that contrary to popular adages, the Islamists' welfare base had grown considerably weaker in the past decade due to security restrictions and internal fragmentation. Meanwhile, a new brand of Muslim organisations with a greater space for youth activism has emerged, and it is these youths who participated in their personal capacities in large numbers during the revolution and under their organisational umbrellas after the ousting of Mubarak. The case study of Islamist outreach presented here challenges some of the assumptions about the extent to which the Islamist welfare outreach translated into ‘ownership’ of the street. Ultimately, when the youth uprisings began, the Islamists, for all their networks, were just as disconnected from the street as other political and social forces.