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"We get close to God by medical work," the association’s slogan proclaims.
The interim government is also tightening its grip over mosques, another key resource for the Brotherhood. One former member, Sameh Eid, said the group collected alms from mosques in absence of state oversight, on top of the 8 percent of their incomes that members pay.
Last week, the Religious Endowments Ministry cancelled licenses for thousands of preachers and ordered the closure of thousands of small mosques.
At the same time, businesses believed — rightly or wrongly — to be Brotherhood-linked have faced boycotts encouraged by youth movements and anti-Islamist TV stations. That has led a string of businessmen to publicly deny links to the group. Last month, Egypt’s leading dairy company Juhayna ran ads in state papers demanding a stop to boycott campaigns against it.
One of the country’s biggest department stores — Tawheed wa Nour, or "Monotheism and Light" — has been hard hit, because it is owned by an ultraconservative sheik seen as an Islamist supporter, though it is not Brotherhood-linked. The stores are popular among middle-class and poor Egyptians, selling everything from clothes to soccer balls and school supplies for low prices. But many branches are empty of customers, even with school now beginning.
Many staffers have shaved off their conservative beards — which they said they were required to grow for the job — to avoid harassment.
"These people will not see the seat of power once again in Egypt," said el-Moghazi el-Hadi, who has been selling papers for decades in front of one Tawheed wa Nour branch. "Morsi for Egypt was like a driver who doesn’t know how to drive ... the minute he turns the engine and turns the wheel, he slams his car by the wall."
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