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17023Now Egyptians are all paying the price

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  • Mohammad Imran
    Aug 15, 2013
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      Now Egyptians are all paying the price

      Instead of working towards a unified civil state, once in power the Muslim Brotherhood courted the police and army
      Egyptian Security Forces Assault Protest Camp
      Egyptian security forces detain supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, as they clear a sit-in near Cairo University. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media

      On Wednesday the Egyptian police moved in to break up the Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins. Cairo and many other cities are divided: some neighbourhoods are weirdly empty, the shops shuttered, no cars in the streets. Others are seeing pitched battles with guns and armoured personnel carriers and teargas. Once again we're watching images of bodies piled up on field hospital floors.

      None of this is unexpected. The road that has led us here was chosen, deliberately and over time. For almost three weeks, since Abdel Fatah al-Sisi demanded a mandate to deal with "the security situation", the country has been edging closer and closer to crisis. The Brotherhood chose to dig in, to create little enclaves of defiance. The state declared it had to disperse them. Several rounds of negotiations broke down.

      The rhetoric from both sides of the divide has been objectionable, unacceptable, dehumanising. Some voices have insisted on the police minimising the use of violence, on the non-negotiability of basic human rights, and that we need to think what will happen after the sit-ins have been broken up. What about the 3 million or so who will now feel disenfranchised?

      There is no doubt the Brotherhood feels justice and legitimacy are on its side. There is no doubt its year in power lost it the sympathy of the country. But there is also no doubt it would have been better if the Brotherhood had been voted out, not forced out.

      Could we have waited for parliamentary elections? The many millions who came out on the streets on 30 June didn't think so. They came out again four weeks later to respond to Sisi's request for a mandate. And the media reinvented itself and whipped up a love-fest for the military. So now what we've been dreading has come to pass: the police, backed by the military, have moved in. The official death count as I write is 150. It will rise. The Brotherhood is asking how "the people" are allowing this to happen. And it has been appealing to the foreign press and world public opinion.

      But its rhetoric in Arabic has been viciously sectarian and – in response to the police moving in on the sit-ins – churches in Assiut, Sohag, Minya, Suez and Arish are being torched. In Minya also the Jesuit school is being burned. Christian businesses and homes are being attacked. And in the middle of this mayhem the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice portal writes: "Groups of Christian thugs in the protection of the police tried to break up (Muslim) protesters." The sectarian discourse promoted by the Brotherhood, and the destructive and murderous acts it has led to over the past months, are unforgivable.

      And yet, among the hundreds of thousands at the Brotherhood sit-ins many of us have friends and relatives. One much-shared tweet says: "Three of my comrades in the revolution have brothers in the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] sit-in. What am I supposed to feel?" Just as we, in the streets of the revolution, said with utter conviction, "there was never an idea killed by jail, never a tomorrow delayed by force", so the Brotherhood is saying now.

      But it has proved that its basic ideology and attitude is sectarian. This cannot be a matter for compromise; it needs to be defeated. The police massacres, though, will not defeat it. This police force and this military can only respond with brutal force to challenges to authority. Many of us continue to remind everyone that the army spent a year killing us on the streets, that the police and the military are not the guardians of plurality or democracy or human rights or any of the values this country rose up for in January 2011.

      For a brief moment, two years ago, we believed progressives, liberals and Brotherhood supporters could work together for a civil state. Instead, the Brotherhood, in power, courted the police and the army; today it, the country and the revolution are paying the price.


      DuncanMcFarlane

      And what did the secular opposition do? Did they agree to Morsi's many offers of negotiations? Of parliamentary elections in April this year? Of a government of national unity including all parties shortly before the coup?

      No - with a few honourable exceptions, like fools they encouraged and welcomed a military coup that would put the Generals and Mubarak's appointees back in real power instead. El Baradei was the worst for this but he clearly had lots of supporters backing his no compromise and no negotiations stance.

      And the secular opposition even welcomed former members and MPs from Mubarak's National Democratic Party. The Tamarod movement and its petition against Morsi was funded by businessmen who supported Mubarak.

      And the former revolutionaries began welcoming Mubarak's secret police and plain clothes thugs too.

      Until they wake up to the fact they have been being played as dupes by the military and Mubarak's appointees (e.g Adly Mansour) with the army playing divide and conquer the opposition to Mubarak by setting Islamic parties against secular ones, the revolution is dead.


      DuncanMcFarlane

      Could we have waited for parliamentary elections? The many millions who came out on the streets on 30 June didn't think so. They came out again four weeks later to respond to Sisi's request for a mandate.

      Because half of them were idiots or didn't believe in democracy and the rest were former members of Mubarak's NDP party.

      And the media reinvented itself and whipped up a love-fest for the military. So now what we've been dreading has come to pass: the police, backed by the military, have moved in. The official death count as I write is 150. It will rise. The Brotherhood is asking how "the people" are allowing this to happen. And it has been appealing to the foreign press and world public opinion.

      That's what happens when you back a military coup against a democratically elected government and then agree to join the coup regime. Amazingly enough your support for the coup and your leaders joining an unelected coup regime and staying in it while it massacres unarmed protesters asking for the elected President to be restored to office, people blame you for it, because you are responsible for your own actions.

      If a candidate you had voted for was democratically elected and then overthrown in a military coup would you have quietly gone home and said "never mind"? Of course not. Why should Morsi's supporters?


      sjxt

      Too much excuse making on behalf of Egypt's liberals here that just won't wash.

      When Ahdaf says Egypt set out the path to today's slaughter when Sisi three weeks ago asked for his security mandate that is, of course, nonsense.

      Egypt set out on this path with the coup. But Ahdaf doesn't have the honesty to face up to that. Because that was the coup which Ahdaf conspicuously did not forthrightly condemn at the time but instead tacitly supported in her last Guardian article and, ludicrous as it might seem today (and frankly did then), sought to portray there as a continuation of a revolution for democracy rather than a return of the deep state:

      The revolutionaries are working hard to point out that this phase is not against Morsi and the Brotherhood as such, but against the continuation of the policies that marked the Mubarak era. Without radical change, these policies will carry on under the next president – be he army-appointed or otherwise. But the people want to get rid of Morsi first and deal with the rest later.

      Could we have waited for parliamentary elections and used the dismal performance of the presidency over the last year to vote the Brotherhood out of office? It is accused of fixing the electoral districts in a way that privileges the party. We now know that a large proportion of the judiciary (who will oversee elections) are Brotherhood supporters. And in the tug of war between the presidency and the constitutional court over the election law, no one is sure how often the elections will be postponed.

      Likewise for sure the MB have a lot to answer for, including trying to co-opt rather than confront the deep state.

      But that rather pales into insignificance besides the betrayal of democracy to the generals and interior ministry by those like Ahdaf who, despite all the hand wringing, when push came to shove on July 1st were writing, as per the above, that all in all the coup was for the best....