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ordered a probe into a television satirist, Bassem Youssef, whom Islamist litigators accuse of

insulting the president. His crime? Using as a prop a red, heart-shaped pillow with Mr Morsi's face
pictured on it.
The Supreme Guide also called on the Brothers to struggle against opportunists whose goal is to
undermine the popular will and to foil the Islamist project. Other darker mutterings are being
heard in Islamist quarters. An article on a Brotherly website, for instance, hints of a conspiracy
against Egypt's new order by Coptic Christians and Zionists, orchestrated by an American magnate,
Sheldon Adelson.
The mood on Egypt's streets is bitter and polarised. The coming general election will be the seventh
time since the revolution of January 25th, 2011, that Egyptians have been asked to queue for hours
in national polls. In December's flawed and rushed referendum, fewer than a third of registered
voters turned out. Richer and better-educated ones largely voted against Mr Morsi's constitution but
the rural poor voted overwhelmingly in favour, upping the overall yes vote to 64%, enough to
render futile the widespread claims of fraud.
Mr Morsi pushed through a controversial referendum in December to endorse a new constitution.
Since then he has faced down challenges from Egypt's restless judges, braved serial resignations of
advisers and ministers, and parried opponents by sponsoring a national dialogue that is actually
being held just by Brothers and their allies.
Private opinion polls suggest that the Brotherhood, though still adept at mobilising its core of
support, is increasingly mistrusted. Poverty and joblessness have increased since the revolution
nearly two years ago. When Mr Morsi's cabinet clumsily unveiled but then retracted a set of tax
increases in December, further delaying a long-awaited debt-relief deal with the IMF, a ratings
agency downgraded Egypt onto a par with stricken Greece. Many hotels are empty. Three-quarters
of the Nile cruise fleet was grounded over the Christmas high season. Foreign currency is drying
up. The central bank has allowed the Egyptian pound to depreciate for the first time since the
revolution. Inflation is set to gather pace. Egyptians are painfully aware that, to secure the IMF's
proffered $4.8 billion loan, which could unlock a lot more foreign aid, severe austerity measures,
including cuts in energy subsidies, must be imposed.

But Mr Morsi's troubles have yet to help his non-Islamist opponents. Despite efforts to forge a
united front, secular liberals have failed to provide a convincing alternative or to create strong
networks. But this could change. Some sense a coming reaction not only against the Brothers,

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