Remembering what the bloodshed in Egypt is about

Everyone who cares for Egypt is stunned by the death and destruction witnessed in Cairo and elsewhere in the country over the past couple of days.

Stunned, but not surprised, for this carnage was inevitable from the moment the Hassan al-Banna cultists of the Muslim Brotherhood decided to hold the Egyptian capital hostage to their warped, extremist Islamist ambitions.

Against this background, what is almost as shocking is the stream of apologies for the Brotherhood pouring out of the Western media, from the BBC to Channel 4 News. Suddenly, supposedly learned journalists and academics have forgotten what the Muslim Brotherhood is, why it was staging its paralysing sit-ins and the fact that it rejected all attempts at a peaceful, political solution.

Amid this hypocrisy and collective amnesia, Egyptian writer and activist Wael Nawara has had the courage to say it as it is. Writing in Al-Monitor, he says:

In Egypt, if you ask a question, you are often answered with another question. So, to the question, “Why was it so necessary to clear these sit-ins fully knowing that the blood toll was to be so high?” the answer would be, “If it’s not too important, why did the Muslim Brothers’ react by setting the whole country on fire?”

For six weeks, yard by yard, the Rabia al-Adawiya encampment expanded its borders, creeping to claim kilometre after kilometre of neighbouring streets, including the Autostrade road, which connects Nasr City and the rest of Cairo to the city’s airport. Until one day, Rabia al-Adawiya was no longer a sit-in, but a sprawling town, even a city-state, with fortifications, internal police force, complete with torture camps and border control officials. Rabia al-Adawiya came to manifest the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Parallel State”

The Muslim Brotherhood has reached a point where it sees this as the last battle – so, it’s either win it or die as a “martyr,” which is exactly the religious narrative used so passionately by [Muhammad] Beltagy [secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party], Safwat Hegazi [imam and preacher banned in the UK for stirring up hatred] and other Brotherhood leaders to emotionally charge their supporters at Rabaa to pick from these bloody choices, victory or death. And while many Brotherhood leaders are safely hiding far from the martyrdom they had so poetically described to their supporters, we should not expect the end of this conflict any time soon. The Muslim Brotherhood elements all over the country are playing what could perhaps be their final cards. Spreading chaos and pushing the country into civil war. Toward that end, they are bringing out all their tricks. The sectarian card started with burning churches and Christian missionary schools, attacking shops and Christians’ homes in Upper Egypt, hoping to start wide sectarian battles. Another important card is the collapse of security. To achieve that, Muslim Brotherhood members and Islamists have managed so far to storm several police stations, releasing prisoners and stealing arms. The government response was to impose a state of emergency and night curfew for a month.

Was it worth it? This wide confrontation between the Egyptian state and the Islamists took place several times before, most notably, when Sadat was assassinated in 1981. Many people see this confrontation as imminent and unavoidable – and that if it was allowed to take place two or three years from now, the Muslim Brotherhood would have been able to infiltrate and split the army, and hopes for restoring order without dividing the country would have been slimmer. While we’re now horrified by the death of hundreds, if the country were in a state of a civil war in which two armies fight, the death toll could climb from hundreds to hundreds of thousands…

The conflict in Egypt is not a dispute over percentages of election gains. It’s not about who rules. It’s rather about “what to rule”: the state of Egypt — or the Brotherhood’s state.

We have little to add to this, but can only hope that the BBC, Channel 4 News and others set aside their pretense of moral superiority, if only for a few days, and report the painful facts in their proper context.

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