Diehard supporters of Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi have been rallying in Cairo for nearly two weeks calling for his reinstatement, but their prolonged protest has left them isolated.
Since they began the sit-in protest, their main source of news has been from speeches delivered from a podium set up by the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which ousted Islamist leader Morsi hails.
Many of the speeches focus on reports of preparations for massive pro-Morsi rallies in the square outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque where they are gathered, and across the country.
Morsi’s supporters, many of whom have travelled far to reach Cairo, accept these words without question, and celebrate them.
Last Sunday the Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political wing, said four to five million had thronged the square outside the mosque — a figure far from the actual number of demonstrators.
Ibrahim Mohamed, who came from the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya, has pitched a tent outside the mosque in the eastern Cairo suburb of Nasr City beneath a poster of Morsi, awaiting his return.
“We are here in our millions… our numbers are higher than Morsi’s opponents,” Mohamed told AFP.
“President Morsi will return to power. This has been confirmed to us in the speech delivered from the podium,” he said.
Morsi supporters believe most Egyptians support their demands, dismissing the millions who took to the streets of Cairo on June 30 to demand the Islamist’s resignation.
Sayyed Abdullah, an engineer, said he thought those rallies were staged.
“The demonstrators on June 30 were soldiers from the central security (riot police) and the remnants (of the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak). The media enlarged the pictures and spread the rumour that all of Egypt was on the streets,” he said.
Speakers who have succeeded each other on the dais outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya have said members of Egypt’s Christian minority were also taking part in the pro-Morsi rallies as proof of his popularity.
Mohamed Ahmed, from second city Alexandria, said “there are Christians here with us at the protest,” as did Ibrahim Mohamed, but both admitted they had not met any personally.
Speakers have given fiery speeches laden with religious rhetoric.
Some of them, preachers linked to the Brotherhood, have been telling demonstrators about dreams that people have been having since the rally began.
One said the Prophet Mohammed met Morsi and told him to lead prayers, while another said the Archangel Gabriel appeared above Rabaa al-Adawiya.
One of the preachers said a man claimed he saw General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief who helped topple Morsi, covered in blood.
Others have said that senior army officers defected in favour of Morsi’s “legitimacy”.
The military has denied that claim.
On the other hand, media outlets have reported that the Brotherhood is forcing its supporters to stay at Rabaa al-Adawiya by confiscating their identity cards.
But the Brotherhood rejected this.
Its spokesman Ahmad Aref told AFP that “we have no control over what is said on the podium,” saying that the speakers were responsible for their opinions.
The Brotherhood, he added, was not “putting pressure on anyone to stay, the decision is down to the supporters”.
Eleven days after his ouster, Morsi loyalists are still in a state of shock.
They have gone from being supporters of the president to supporters of a deposed head of state and a group whose leaders are wanted for questioning.
The sorrow and bitterness they feel is clear on the faces of those at Rabaa al-Adawiya, where hundreds appear to cry as they pray, calling for him to return.
Carrying white shrouds in front of them as they marched before the cameras, some said they were willing to give their lives for him.
One of them, Taha Abu al-Sheikh, said that if “they told people ‘go and carry out a suicide attack somewhere’, we will take our shrouds and walk behind them”.
In the streets, white shirts printed with the slogan “Plan Martyr” have begun to appear.
Mohamed Yussri, one of the teenagers wearing the shirts, told AFP: “I will not leave this place except in a coffin. We will support Morsi with our blood.”
“I am completely aware what this means… Yes, I am ready to die for my religion, my Brotherhood and my president,” he added.