U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday accused Egypt's well-organized Muslim Brotherhood of having "stolen" the revolution that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
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Speaking at the State Department to leaders of multinational American firms, Kerry said the Islamist group had appropriated the revolt against Mubarak from young people who started it in large part through social media in response to what they saw of other mass protests around the Arab world.
"Those kids in Tahrir Square, they were not motivated by any religion or ideology," he said. "They were motivated by what they saw through this interconnected world, and they wanted a piece of the opportunity and a chance to get an education and have a job and have a future, and not have a corrupt government that deprived them of all of that and more. And they tweeted their ways and FaceTimed their ways and talked to each other, and that's what drove that revolution. And then it got stolen by the one single-most organized entity in the state, which was the Brotherhood."
Kerry's comments are likely to raise eyebrows in Egypt where competing claims of credit for Mubarak's ouster are still a source of major division. Mubarak's ouster led to Egypt's first-ever democratically chosen president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Secular politicians could not get organized enough to provide a credible contest.
The military toppled Morsi in July claiming that he and Muslim Brotherhood allies were not governing democratically.
The United States has been accused by moderate and secular Egyptians of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood, an allegation that Washington denies.
Egypt's military-backed government and its supporters will likely look favorably on Kerry's brief remark, while supporters of Morsi will likely be angered by it.