Archive for category Opinion

Inviting foreign militants into Egypt?

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2013/09/11/Foreign-militants-in-Egypt.html

“I need money for a trip to Afghanistan,” I said, wondering why my mother looked at me as if I was a nutcase. “I am not going alone. The whole class is going,” I decided to reassure her. The next morning she went to meet the administrative assistant who laughed her heart out as she told my mom that the trip was to the zoo and that I must have misunderstood. “What kind of a misunderstanding could that be? Where did she get Afghanistan from?” my mom asked. “Oh! That’s another story,” the assistant replied casually. “The school is collecting money for the fighters in Afghanistan.” “Are you serious?” mom sounded like the answer had to be “no” and the woman did not sound like she was lying when she said she was unable to see the problem.

That was it, my mom gave the assistant a lecture that contained too many complicated words for a six year, it was something along the lines of “indoctrinating the children,” “marring the political outlook of future generations,” “mixing education with politics” and the like. My mom then insisted to know whose initiative it was, especially since this was a private school that does not get instructions from the government as far as its internal activities are concerned. “All schools are doing this,” the woman replied, and before mom was able to snap again, she quickly added, “this is to support Muslims in their fight against Communists, you know.” “Thank you for the information,” mom grinned, “but we’re not paying.” “As you wish, Madame,” the assistant replied in what seemed to be a euphemism for, “it’s not like your money will make a difference.” Mom made a dramatic exit from the woman’s office dragging me by the arm as I asked persistently, “so where will the trip be?”

Understanding with age

Later on I understood the reason for my mother’s reaction, but I also understood why the assistant found this reaction abnormal. The Muslims versus Communists discourse was intensively promoted by the Egyptian government. Late president Anwar Sadat had become a U.S. ally and was openly crushing Communists and flirting with Islamists and it was only after his death that Egypt’s logistic and military involvement in the Afghan conflict became common knowledge. The school initiative, which could have been recommended, even if it wasn’t dictated, by the authorities, was one of many manifestations of support for what was perceived as a war for Islam and of resistance to what was perceived as the threat of Communism. Very few, obviously including my mother, understood the meaning of a proxy war and foresaw the repercussions of internationalizing the Afghan conflict.

It was when fighters from across the Muslim world started joining Afghans in their struggle against the Soviets that the modern concept of jihad came into being, for it was no longer seen as the Afghans fighting foreign troops in their countries, but rather Muslims declaring war on infidels. That was also when any country in which “believers” engaged in conflict with “enemies of Islam” became an open battlefield. Iraq, then Syria, offered the most poignant example of the continuation of the foreign fighters’ tradition and it did not matter whether the enemy was an occupying force or citizens of the country. Similarly, it never mattered that neither the Soviet troops, summoned by the Afghani government, nor the mujahedeen, backed by the CIA, reflected the will of the Afghan people.

An invitation to Egypt

Toppling Muslim Brotherhood rule constituted an open invitation for jihadists from outside Egypt to join the conflict that ensued between members of the group on one hand and the police and the army on the other hand. The aim was to subvert the “coup” that was marketed as an attack on Islam. Recruitment of foreign militants seems to have been made possible through fiery speeches in which Brotherhood leaders called upon Muslims across the world to save their Egyptian brethren, speaking from the podiums of the sit-ins staged in protest of the ouster of President Mohammad Mursi and through religious edicts that rendered waging war on the Egyptian state a holy duty. However, the presence of those militants was actually made possible by the coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood not only because of the presidential pardons Mursi issued for convicted terrorists, who of course maintained links with other organizations outside Egypt, but also because of the Brotherhood’s alliance with foreign groups that constituted its only line of defense against the Egyptian military. The collaboration between the ruling Brotherhood and Hamas facilitated the entrance of large numbers of militants from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai Peninsula, which has lately metamorphosed into a training camp for extremist groups and a death trap for police and army officers. Egypt’s borders had never been as porous as they were during the year of Brotherhood rule and that allowed huge quantities of heavy weaponry to enter the country from Libya and Sudan.

The Muslim Brotherhood was establishing its own militia which it would have used to suppress all sorts of insurgency, whether military or popular. It only did not have ample time to see the project completed and tested, yet the nucleus of this project made an appearance in the clashes the followed the ouster of Mursi and the dispersal of the sit-ins as militants from Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, among other countries, were arrested as they fought alongside the Muslim Brotherhood. The black flags of al-Qaeda were also brandished in several pro-Mursi demonstrations in a clear indication of the link between the Brotherhood and terrorist organizations that operate internationally.

Unlike the conventional cases of Iraq, where there was an actual occupation, and of Syria, where the strife took a sectarian turn, Egypt is more alluring for foreign fighters since it provides them with the opportunity to take part in a universal scheme similar to the one propagated in Afghanistan and which portrayed their struggle as part of a broader mission whose outcome is bound to transcend the frontiers of the local war zone. The Muslim Brotherhood’s professed cause is not much different from that of the mujahedeen, one in which domestic gains are only a prelude to an international victory, of Islam in this case. That is why in the doctrines of both the Brotherhood and the jihadists, the unity of a given country, is a marginal issue and national disintegration does, in fact, expedite the achievement of the ultimate goal. Unlike the mujahedeen, who came from several parts of the world, members of the Muslim Brotherhood are Egyptian yet both engage in a war that is, unlike most wars, devoid of patriotic sentiments and that gives precedence to a project over a homeland.

Because of this ideological framework, it would be quite naive to assume that the role of foreign militants in Egypt would end with the elimination or disbanding of the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamist extremism was not uprooted with the withdrawal of Soviets from Afghanistan or Americans from Iraq and the same would apply to the toppling of the Syrian regime. Osama bin Laden was not ruined when the CIA abandoned him. The fall of an enemy or the loss of an ally does not usually weaken groups involved in international jihad for the first scenario would make them more confident and the second would make them more adamant.

The rise of ‘political effeminacy’ in Egypt

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2013/09/04/The-rise-of-political-effeminacy-in-Egypt.html

“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” former U.S. President George W. Bush said in his address to Congress and to the American people on Sept.20, 2001. By this he meant that those who refused to support a war on Afghanistan would be condoning terrorism, thus eradicating all the shades of gray that might exist between black and white and overlooking all sorts of other sentiments that do not adopt one side of the argument or the other. He did not, for example, assume that it is possible to fully condemn the Sept. 11 attacks while not viewing a war on Afghanistan as the appropriate reaction. Neither did he deem it possible to fully support the elimination of the terrorist group responsible for these attacks while not viewing a war on Afghanistan as the appropriate means of achieving this end. The possibilities between “with us” and “against us” were countless at the time and they even included skepticism about issues that might have seemed givens to the majority of Americans, like the involvement of al-Qaeda in the first place. Those who were not fortunate enough to subscribe to one of Bush’s two camps would, according to that logic, be seen as terrorists, traitors, unpatriotic or “effeminate.”

The term “political effeminates” emerged in Egypt following the dispersal of the sit-ins that condemned the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammad Mursi. Until that moment, Egyptian society had been sharply divided between anti-Brotherhood and pro-Brotherhood supporters. The first took to the streets on June 30 to demand the ouster of Mursi and the second staged sit-ins after July 3 to demand the return of Mursi. This division gave the impression that members of the first group would automatically support any action that clamps down on the second and that only members of the second group would oppose such an action. That was apparently a naïve miscalculation because no sooner had the casualties triggered by the dispersal been revealed, a third group made its surprise appearance. Members of this group, mostly activists, have always opposed the Muslim Brotherhood, did support the president’s ouster and were certain that participants in the sit-ins were far from being peaceful protestors, yet strongly believed that a political resolution was still possible. They did not object to the necessity of ending the sit-ins, but rather the way in which it was done. In other words, their concerns are ethical and humanitarian and have nothing to do with their political views, which have stayed the same throughout. They also have their apprehensions about the return of pre-revolution state repression as they see the police taking control once more and of post-revolution military rule as they see the army having the upper hand once more. In other words, they believe that popular support for the dispersal of the sit-ins has been taken advantage of by state institutions struggling to embellish their image in the Egyptian street and striving for a role in any future arrangement.

Human rights or national security?

This group managed to infuriate members of the camp that wholeheartedly supported the ending of sit-ins regardless of how violent this might turn out to be since, for them, uprooting the Muslim Brotherhood is the nation’s number one priority and since, also for them, human rights should step aside when national security is at stake. Supporters of the dispersal might have felt betrayed by that dissident group which, they must believe, aided, even if unintentionally, the Muslim Brotherhood in their self-victimization scheme and which created a rift in the ranks of the anti-Brotherhood camp, that seemed at one point to be comprised of all non-Brotherhood Egyptians, let alone lend credibility to Western claims about the return of autocracy to Egypt.

It is not clear who decided to call them “political effeminates” but whoever did it saw that as the perfect retaliation and succeeded, for the term is now used by almost all experts and analysts who believed there was no alternative to the bipolar status quo and who argue that any deviation from that would do nothing but empower the Brotherhood and compromise the case against its members. It is also not clear if this term in specific was chosen because of its impact on a society that adopts fixed concepts of masculinity and femininity, thus forbids any formula that lies in-between, but there is no doubt that the sexual rather than the political connotations determine popular reaction to such designation. What is quite clear, though, is the fact that the term does not really apply to the context in which it is used. If “effeminacy” means that a man is displaying female behavior then this often implies that this man in unable to make a decision about his identity , which is not the case with the anti-dispersal groups. Unlike what the media would like us believe, members of this group have made a decision not to support the clampdown on the sit-ins and not to change, meanwhile, their stance on the Muslim Brotherhood. They have made the decision not to separate politics from ethics and not to condone an action just because its end result might be desirable.

Black and white

In fact, this group drew everybody’s attention to the fact that there are always alternatives other than the ready-made ones offered by the powers-that-be for the sake of polarizing society between one extreme and another. They made it possible for the people to create their own choices even if they do not abide by the officially accepted ones and to see the contradictions inherent in a situation where “good” and “bad” are the least relevant units of measurement. This, by the way, is not related to how realistic their views are at this moment in time or how applicable their scenarios were within this context, but rather to how adamant they were not only to voice an opinion that is contrary to the public sentiment of the majority of Egyptians, but also to initiate a new approach to seemingly black and white situations.

The term “effeminate,” whether in its conventional or political sense, is meant to be derogatory on the part of the designator but not necessarily the designated. If society believes that a man needs to display a pre-defined set of behaviors that fall under “masculine,” this view is not necessarily shared by all men, so those who do not abide by it are not offended when they are accused of violating it and the same applies to political effeminacy.

Egypt in a new Cold War?

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/world/2013/08/28/Will-a-new-cold-war-start-from-Egypt-.html

In 1962, the United States placed nuclear missiles in Turkey and directed them towards Moscow. In response, the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. That was the moment Cold War risked turning “hot.” For 13 days, the world held its breath as a nuclear conflict threatened to break out any second. Even though the standoff is commonly known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, it is not actually about Cuba and certainly not about Turkey. It was simply each of the world’s two superpowers reminding the other that it is not to be tampered with, especially since it came right after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, orchestrated by the Kennedy administration against the Cuban regime. Cuba was the party that benefited most in this confrontation; the concluding agreement between Kennedy and Khrushchev included a pledge, on the part of the United States, never to attempt invading Cuba again and Castro emerged from the crisis stronger and more popular than ever.
Years have passed, one of the two belligerents has become the world’s sole superpower and the other is disintegrating. As the United States made sure it religiously, and more vigorously, resumed its muscle-flexing strategy, Russia was desperately struggling for a role that would restore if only a fraction of its past glory. The Arab Spring made that slightly possible, yet Russia started with a major miscalculation when it condoned the killing of Syrian revolutionaries in support of the only ally it had left in the region. The unpredictability of the Syrian conflict, and the possibility of the Tartus naval base falling into rebel hands, forced Russia into a recalculation that involved looking for an alternative in case of the fall of the Syrian regime. The urgency of this rerouting process increased as the stakes got higher with the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and with the United States no longer ruling out military intervention in Syria.

Turning to Egypt

The timing couldn’t have been more ideal for the events in Egypt to unfold the way they did. As the United States slammed the interim Egyptian government for the forceful dispersion of Islamist sit-ins, threatened to suspend aid to Egypt and insisted on calling the June 30 protests a military coup, Russians, no fools for sure, rushed in. Not only did Russian president Vladimir Putin declare solidarity with the “revolution” and make no secret of his resentment of the Muslim Brotherhood, but he also announced his country’s readiness to conduct military exercises with Egypt immediately following the United States cancellation of Operation Bright Star, a 33-year-old tradition that constituted one of the most powerful manifestations of Egyptian-American strategic alliance.

Like Cuba, Egypt is a medium through which Russia can assert its influence in the region and, most importantly, embarrass the United States. Russia is not only proving that the United States is taking the wrong side, but is also rubbing a whole lot of salt into the unhealed wound of September 11. The United States waged war on Afghanistan in the hope of eliminating Islamist extremism, which it actually strengthened with its invasion of Iraq and its indifference on Syria not to mention its support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Conversely, the domestic anti-terrorism campaign launched by Russian authorities following the Belsan school hostage crisis and the Moscow metro bombings succeeded in eradicating Islamic militancy in its hotbed, Chechnya. One can imagine the look on Putin’s face when the culprits in the Boston Marathon bombings turned out to be Chechen. Russia, therefore, hopes to be Egypt’s mentor as far as combating terrorism is concerned and is willing to provide the Egyptian government with logistic and military assistance towards that end so that the Russian model would eventually prove more effective and definitely less costly, on both the human and the financial levels, than its American counterpart and would underscore the United States’ role in nurturing the very terrorism of which it eventually becomes a victim. Soviet era scores can be settled in the meantime as the United States can be reminded of its support for Osama Bin Laden and Afghan fighters in its attempt to give the Soviet Union its own Vietnam.
Getting closer to Egypt also paves the way for rapprochement with other major powers in the region like Saudi Arabia, which has openly defied the United States through declaring full support for Egypt’s war on terrorism and pointing out the danger the Muslim Brotherhood posed to Egypt and all its neighboring countries. Rapprochement can also be attempted with the rest of Gulf nations, with the exception of course of Qatar which had supported Islamist rule in Egypt since the very beginning and is still doing so through its scandalously biased media outlets. Forging such alliances would also allow Russia to get back at Turkey, a staunch supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, for jeopardizing its interests in Syria through its support for Syrian rebels. Russia might even start distancing itself from Syria and Iran in return for bringing back memories of the good old days of the Nasser era when the political clout of the Soviet Union was an eternal nuisance for the United States.

Would Egypt benefit?

Egypt would undoubtedly benefit from this seeming revival of the Cold War and the subsequent change in the balance of power,for while it is let down by a staggering giant, it is being rescued by a growing midget. But divided Egypt is not Communist Cuba because the latter had already been a close ally of the Soviet Union when the crisis took place and, therefore, had nothing to lose and everything to gain while the former is struggling for its political independence which cannot be achieved through replacing one form of subordination with another or through regressing to the client state era. Egypt is also in no position to become the venue of a proxy war between the United States and Russia and in which each of the two countries would only fight for its own interests with little, if any, attention to those of the country onto which they project their rivalry. It is also important to note that while in Cuba the United States supported a group of Miami-based Cuban exiles, who carried out the Bay of Pigs Invasion and whose threat was immediately eradicated by Castro’s regime, it is currently supporting a group that is based in Egypt and whose supporters constitute part of Egyptian society. Internal strife is, hence, bound to intensify if each of the two countries decides to support one group of Egyptians against another and if each of those groups accepts this support and acts upon it.

It is in Egypt’s best interest to forge new alliances and to break away from the unipolar world order whenever possible, provided it is not dragged into fighting other people’s battles. By Egypt I do not just mean the government, but also the people who are now too vulnerable and too willing to create super-heroes. In fact, in one of the recent pro-revolution marches, pictures of Putin did make a first appearance as the man, whose human rights and democracy record is far from admirable, suddenly turned into a modern-day Guevara. Quite an alarming start I would say!

Towards a ‘scorched’ Egypt

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2013/08/21/Towards-a-scorched-Egypt.html

When Jason left Medea for another woman, she decided to get back at him by killing their two children. Thus goes the Greek myth that I first learnt about when I was a child. “How could she kill her own children? Isn’t this against nature?” I asked my father after he had told me the story. “Well, maybe she had a different nature,” he replied. It still did not make sense to me that a mother would kill her children to make her husband suffer since, presumably, she would suffer too and since she could have chosen any other revenge plan that would not hurt her as well.

The thought was so disturbing that I had to convince myself that it was just a myth and that nothing of the sort would happen in real life. As I grew older and knew more about the complexities of human nature, I realized that Medea was not as supernatural as I assumed her to be. She just lacked that instinct that rendered surviving one’s child, let alone killing it, the most tragic thing a woman can go through. She might have suffered from some severe psychological disorder, but she could have definitely lived in our world.

Revenge is apparently a typically human instinct which can take all sorts of shapes and yield an unimaginable variety of results. The extent of revenge largely depends on the power wielded by the avenger and that is why the most destructive of revenges are ones carried by withdrawing armies from occupied territories in what is known as the “scorched earth” strategy. As it is obvious from the name, this strategy aims at leveling to the ground any facilities that might be of use to the enemy. Although it can be applied to an army advancing into enemy territory, it is more commonly used upon withdrawal and that is why it is seen as an act of revenge. In this case, the whole purpose is not only making sure that the army of the enemy does not stand a chance of regaining part of its strength but also teaching this army a cruel lesson about playing with fire and opting for losing battles. I personally think it is not just about the balance of power, but also involves a violent outlet for the sense of loss that results from having to abandon a much-coveted booty and, therefore, admitting at least partial defeat. Among the most famous examples of the scorched earth strategy in the Arab region was the setting on fire of more than 600 Kuwaiti oil wells by retreating Iraqi forces.

The Nero decree

With the exception of few cases that involved leaders later going down in history as lunatics like Nero and Hitler—in fact Hitler’s order to destroy German infrastructure with the advance of the Allied forces was called the Nero Decree—the scorched earth strategy usually, and more logically so, is implemented in the enemy’s territory. Even when this is not the case, the purpose is usually to prevent the enemy’s army from utilizing the resources of the country it is invading and that was exactly Hilter’s aim. Yet as far as I am aware, it is not common to destroy one’s own country without any strategic urgency, although not even that renders this action by any means justifiable, but rather doing that out of pure spite and in gratification of a purely vindictive desire to see one’s own compatriots suffer. That is why the reactions of the Muslim Brotherhood following the ending of the pro-Mursi sit-ins are very difficult to explain in the light of any known examples from history.

The Muslim Brotherhood must be aware by now that the return of ousted president Mohammed Mursi, which was the purpose of the sit-ins, is out of the question and that their chances at being reintegrated into the Egyptian political scene, which was the subject of endless negotiations with the current government, is almost nil. It follows that the burning of churches, the killing of police and army officers, the destruction of state buildings, and the targeting of unarmed civilians do not in any way constitute an attempt at putting pressure on decision makers especially that the crackdown on the sit-ins signaled the failure of diplomacy and heralded a new era of fierce confrontations. It is also important to note that the violence which swept the country in the past week is not about one party defending itself against the attacks of another because if this had ever been true the clashes would have been confined to the places where the sit-ins were held. This is about a predetermined plan to wreak havoc in such an intense manner that would be likely to topple the state and undermine the institutions capable of maintaining its security, not of course for the purpose of ruling that state at any given point, since in all cases it would turn into a heap of debris if the plan works, but only for taking revenge on all its components, people and government alike.

Lacking love for one’s country

It is not revenge that is problematic here, but it is the fact that it is exacted by a group of people against their compatriots which demonstrates how, like Medea, the Muslim Brotherhood are lacking in one instinct that could have deterred them from embarking on such action and that is love for one’s country. Because the Muslim Brotherhood does not acknowledge national borders and prioritizes a caliphate-like Islamic state over patriotic affiliations, its members would not mind doing away with “a bunch of rotten dust,” as Sayyed Qotb, one of the group’s most prominent theorists, referred to Egypt and the idea of the homeland. Because the Muslim Brothers do not think of Egypt as their homeland, they have no scruples about inflicting fatal damage upon it and retaliating on its people as if they are the citizens of another country.

There would never be a more poignant proof of that utter national detachment than the words of a group of youth as they embarked on attacking and looting a thousand plus artifacts that spanned 3,500 years of Egypt’s history from the Malawi National Museum in Upper Egypt. “We are here to destroy the museum and set it on fire,” they yelled at reporters. “The government is killing us so we will level its museum to the ground.” Referring to the museum as a government property underlines an absolute lack of identification with the country’s history and cultural heritage and which renders the destruction of such priceless pieces of art totally devoid of any emotional impact on them and the same applies to the entire country. This takes the conflict to another level as it no longer revolves around clamping down on a bunch of rioters who can be disciplined through the rule of law or even an insurgent militia that can be pacified through a political settlement and, instead, involves battling an ideology under which national belonging recedes to the background and religion becomes the one and only reference.

“I would rather Egypt have a Muslim Malaysian president than an Egyptian Christian,” said the Muslim Brotherhood former general guide in the same statement that contained his notorious “To hell with Egypt!”

Is the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization?

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2013/08/14/Is-the-Muslim-Brotherhood-a-terrorist-organization-.html

“Declare the Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Organization” is a petition initiated by American political commentator Dick Morris. Morris holds the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) responsible for several terrorist attacks on American soil which he argues were carried out by people that the group “converted.” He accuses the group of aborting the Arab Spring through curbing freedom of speech, persecuting women and minorities, and establishing repressive theocracies. He urges readers unfamiliar with the MB to visit the website of a group called Citizens for National Security, which features a detailed account of the group under the title “Homegrown Jihad in the USA: MB’s deliberate, premeditated plan now reaching maturity.” Morris concludes by urging Americans to sign his petition in order to “protect America” and “take a stand against Terrorism.”

The result of such a petition in Egypt was already obvious from the signature collection campaign that ignited the June 30 protests and ousted President Mohammad Mursi. It is more interesting to speculate whether Americans would in fact sign this petition against a group that has caused them little or no harm directly and that was not linked to September 11. Although it does mention Terrorism with a capital T in reference to the MB’s global influence, the petition addresses America and is aimed at protecting American national security. At the end of the day, the MB is not a major source of concern for average American citizens and they are unlikely to rally behind such a cause. This was made clear when a similar initiative was launched on the WhiteHouse.gov petition platform under the title “We the people” and the number of Egyptian petitioners remarkably exceeded that of their American counterparts.

Resistance or terrorism?

It is interesting that the countries that designate organizations as “terrorist” are usually those that are not directly affected by their activities. This is the case with Hamas and Hezbollah. Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. and the EU. The same applies to Hezbollah’s military wing. It seems more logical for these assessments to come from the Palestinian Authority and the Lebanese government respectively, but they have not. The groups remain popular because they began as resistance movements, a cause that earned them considerable support at the beginning and won them the guardian’s status in recent times. And their histories are not entirely shameful – Hamas did win democratic elections and was Gaza’s only defense line against Israeli attacks. Hezbollah did play a major role in ending Israeli occupation of South Lebanon. It was only later that each group started losing sympathy, particularly when Hamas made no secret of its alliance with the MB and when Hezbollah openly supported the Syrian regime, not to mention the rather bleak record of both groups as far as human rights are concerned.

The MB, on the other hand, does not even have such credentials. It has failed miserably to link its existence to a national struggle despite its attempts to do so. It was always prioritizing its own interests, which often drove it to strike deals with its staunchest enemies. Apart from militancy and religious discourse, the MB shares very little with Hezbollah and Hamas. In fact, the MB proved to be the worst in power, even though the other two are by no means democratic, simply because the MB’s struggle was against the very people it ruled while Hezbollah and Hamas’s hostility was mainly directed against an external enemy. The MB does not currently enjoy any support outside its ranks and has engaged in a variety of actions that fall under the category of terrorism, both as government and opposition.

More than a U.S. petition

The United States has the right to protect itself even against the most invisible sources of danger, but this is the business of the Americans. Egyptians, on the other hand, need to lobby on their own front instead of “flocking,” as the Washington Postputs it, to a White House petition that would affect only American politics. However, Egyptians can learn from American expertise in designating organizations as terrorist. The Egyptian government would do good to check the U.S. handbook on terrorist organizations, if that or a similar text exists, to see if the specifications apply to the MB. It would do even better to see that if any country is justified to designate the MB as a terrorist organization it should be Egypt.

Apart from the American habit of labeling as terrorist any entity that might remotely undermine its interests or those of its allies, Morris’s petition in particular underlines two important facts. The first is that designating a group as a terrorist organization is not a symbolic action to indicate condemnation of a group’s activities, but a practical one. The state, he explains, would make sure this group is denied any assistance. Therefore, taking such a step in Egypt would mean blocking through legal means all the channels through which the MB receives financial and logistical aid. The second issue is the importance of identifying the enemy; otherwise you may as well wage war against the windmills. The Egyptians made it clear who their enemy was when they stated that the goal of the second revolution was toppling the MB. The state must now do this officially so that the group can be held legally, politically, and morally accountable for the damage inflicted upon the country both during its rule and following its ouster.

This is, of course, easier said than done. It remains to be seen how such a step can be taken in a way that minimizes any retaliatory reactions on the group’s part. Unlike the U.S., Egypt is directly and closely affected by everything the MB does. It will take more than an announcement and American expertise to take action against them.

Egypt’s sit-in ordeal

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2013/08/07/-Egypt-s-sit-in-ordeal.html

By definition, a “sit-in” involves little or no action. As is obvious from the name, the sit-in is about a group sitting in a specific place to deliver a specific message.

The main purpose of such a static form of protest is making it clear that a large number of people share the same demand and have chosen a peaceful way of claiming it so that instead of engaging in any form of action to have their goal achieved, they wait for the relevant bodies to carry out this mission.

Lack of physical action does not, however, strip a sit-in of its impact which is derived from the location in which it is held and is usually too strategic to be ignored by the authorities.

The non-violent nature of a sit-in often makes it unnecessary to end it by force or even to end it in the first place.

The only exception would be the remarkably negative impact of the rally on traffic, business, and/or the normal course of everyday life in/ near its location; more so if it occupies an area of government offices.

In fact, this kind of disruption is what distinguishes sit-ins and, in many cases, renders them influential and at the same time is what makes them a nuisance, for the state.

Decision time

The state is left with one of two options: responding to the demands or evicting the protesters.

A third option would be overlooking the entire issue in the hope that the protesters will gradually start to lose stamina and their numbers will start dwindling until the area eventually clears.

Despite the fact that the third option has no guaranteed result and could actually drag the matter a lot longer than calculated, it seems better than assaulting or arresting peaceful protesters if the state is determined not to meet any of the demands.

If the forceful ending of sit-ins is condemned because it involves armed, or at least violent, handling of unarmed and nonviolent citizens, the ethical components of the equation undergo a drastic change when those citizens are neither unarmed nor non-violent.

This is exactly the ordeal suffered by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi. This is not only caused by the fact that the protestors involved are violent and have been engaging in several acts of violence against civilians, but also by the fact that their demands (one of which is the re-election of Mursi) are not going to be met.

With this scenario out, one of the other two needs to be chosen and it is at this point that the ordeal is bound to get more complicated.

The protesters are not just blocking a road or occupying a vital location. They are terrorizing the residents of the area in which they are staying, assaulting civilians, recruiting mercenary militants and establishing caches of heavy weapons.

Therefore the consequences of the continuation of the sit-in are much graver than preventing people from going to work, causing a traffic jam, or obstructing public services.

Suffice to say that the bodies of people killed by the protestors were discovered to have been buried in a park across the street from Cairo University, where one of the sit-ins is staged.

The damage incurred by the sit-ins drove a large number of Egyptians, especially those directly affected by virtue of the proximity of their homes or workplaces to sit-in locations, to call upon the army and the police to take a drastic action.

The consequences of such a step are bound to be more disastrous than those of the previous scenario since a forceful ending of the sit-in will definitely result in a large number of casualties from both sides.

Opting for this approach is also bound to embarrass the army, the party most likely to carry out the attack, particularly at a time when it is attempting to clean up its image following international condemnation of the death of scores of Muslim Brotherhood members in an attack on the Republican Guard facility.

Add to this the relentless warnings of human rights organizations over Egypt’s record and of political analysts over a potential civil war.

This option seems even more far-fetched with Western pressure to release the detained former president, visits of several American and European senior officials to detained Muslim Brotherhood leaders and with civil society’s attempts at promoting national reconciliation. It is impossible not to mention the presence of a considerable number of children in the sit-ins.

A potential solution

The only way out of this ordeal would be a partial response to the protestors’ demands so that while the Brotherhood will not return to power, it will not be completely excluded from the political scene.

In this case, influential Brotherhood leaders, including the deposed president, might receive amnesty and/or safe exit. Some of them might even be offered positions in the new government in return for ordering their supporters to end the sit-ins and for their recognition of the current government.

Presumably this would not include group members who have been involved in the destabilization of national security or who are detained pending trial or those who are responsible for the economic and political deterioration Egypt has experienced during the one year of Muslim Brotherhood rule.

Some questions beg for an answer: Is there a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who can be totally absolved of the damage inflicted upon the country in the past year even if just by continuing to belong to a group that systematically focused on serving its own interests while overlooking those of the Egyptian people?

In other words, should one be guilty of specific actions or simply for belonging to a group that promotes ideologies which encourage such actions?

The answers to these questions would underline how impossible it is to make a distinction not to mention how impossible it is to strike any kind of deal that does not involve senior Brotherhood members. Almost all senior members were directly involved in destroying the country and its people, including the former president and who will undoubtedly be the main bargaining chip in any such deal.

Therefore, the ordeal is not by any means on its way to being resolved since the forceful ending of the sit-ins will be replaced with the peaceful acquittal of criminals both as unacceptable as the other.

Deals do not seem like the best idea at a time when the people are already accusing the state of failing to protect them through allowing the sit-ins to continue amid non-stop pleas for help.

Putting an end to the sit-ins seems inevitable in this case, yet it is the means of doing so that remains to be determined provided that the use of force becomes the last resort and that any peaceful approach addresses the average people who were lured into taking part in the sit-ins, this does not include the leaders who lured them. Activists and politicians must be assigned this mission, not the the military.

This can be accompanied by a close monitoring of each of the sit-ins to be followed by the arrest of individuals proven to break the law whether through the terrorization of innocents, the illegal possession of weapons, or the use of children as human shields. This includes leaders proven to engage in hate speech, to incite violence and by the deportation of foreigners proven to take part in the sit-ins.

Only if all of these tactics fail will the intervention of the army or the security apparatus become necessary.

Another Tiananmen Square is the last thing Egypt needs even if the protestors are not as peaceful and their cause not as legitimate.

Egypt’s super hero

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2013/07/30/Egypt-s-super-hero.html

In a new Egyptian sit-com that combines fantasy with absurdism and science fiction, a scientist manages to create a formula that gives human beings superpowers. The scientist injects this formula into a man who swiftly becomes a national hero.

The Hibiscus Man, so called because hibiscus is the main component of that formula, is instantly regarded as the solution to all the country’s problems. He starts with everyday issues like traffic jams, road accidents, and bread queues. Then he is sucked into the world of politics as he becomes the winning card for any political party or presidential candidate that he agrees to support.

He gains international acclaim when he beats his arch-foe Spider Man in a wrestling game closely followed by the White House. There is no doubt that this is bound to change the balance of power between Egypt and the United States.

The whole story could pass for the perfect refreshment following a long day of work, heat, and fasting. It is the ideal comic break from the ever-depressing political situation, but there is more to this farcical depiction of man-turned-superman than meets the eye.

The Hibiscus Man, which is also the name of the series, is a protagonist that is a savior capable of putting an end to Egypt’s ordeal by virtue of the paranormal powers he possesses. It is, in other words, a tongue-in-cheek way of making it clear that Egypt needs a miracle and that no rational course of action can work at this moment.

Fact and fiction

So far there isn’t a problem, for art is the craft of the imagination and nobody could blame you when you make humans fly and animals talk. The problem starts when you mix fact with fiction and start imagining that superheroes are around the corner waiting for the chance to save the day the way they do in American Armageddon movies.
There is no way to tell if the makers of this series were projecting on current events especially because the series must have been filmed a while before the latest developments.

However, what seems to be certain is that the character of the Hibiscus Man either predicted the turn of events following the June 30 protests, which is impressive, or simply aimed at highlighting the Egyptian people’s ability to confuse reality with legends and to create demi-gods of human beings with regular and sometimes limited abilities.

Personally, I can see this happening with the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces who started to acquire mythic proportions the moment he announced the end of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It was amazing how less than an hour later people carried posters of the general and placards with slogans that glorified his wisdom heralding a new utopia under his auspices. It is not possible to deny the role the general played in saving the Egyptian people from an unfathomable abyss, but he cannot be made to look like the epitome of the second revolution.

Put simply, he would not have been able to oust the president had it not been for the millions who took to the streets without whom it would have been an illegitimate military coup. I am not also questioning the man’s genuine desire to rid the country of a ruling clique that was bound to lead it to perdition, yet it was practically impossible for him to act singlehandedly and that is why there is no reason he should take all the credit.

However, it is hard to blame him for the people’s over-emotional reaction to his role in ridding them of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Moreover, it is hard to assume he was seeking personal glory and it is equally hard to pretend he had no role in maintaining this kind of relationship with the people. This was clear in the way he personalized the struggle against the crimes committed by the former president’s supporters when he called upon the people to “delegate” him to “eliminate violence and terrorism.” Two days later the people rallied in compliance with his request and in affirmation of his indisputable power.

The response of the people

The response was as peculiar as the request since both assumed that the general would be doing the people a favor and that is why they needed to ask. Both parties totally overlooked or blinded themselves to the fact that it is the army’s duty to protect national security and to act in accordance with this duty whenever a threat appears imminent. This is regardless of whether or not the people decide to be part of the equation.

The general has transformed himself from the commander of an army who is responsible for an entire nation to a patriarch in charge of protecting a bunch of family members. Combining a professional and personal role is just another way of creating a new dictator who always makes sure to remind his “subjects” that it is out of the kindness of his heart that he is fending for them.

Certainly, to different degrees both parties are to blame, for they both seemed to have signed a pact where one party played on the other party’s weakness and that other party gladly responded to that maneuver.

The commander was fully aware of the willingness of the people at this stage to create a superhero. What’s more the people made sure not to let him down. Both might mean well but good intentions are not really effective at these critical times.

Motives aside, it is absolutely necessary that he stops acting like he has a magic wand and it is equally necessary that the people stop waiting for the moment that this wand could change their lives.

In Western cultures, children are quite shocked when they discover that Santa does not exist and that it was their parents who filled their stockings with gifts. In Eastern cultures, adult citizens remain unable to cope with the shock that their leaders do not possess any out-of-the-ordinary powers. Children have an excuse, adults don’t. Almost all children get over the trauma; many adults are still unable to.

Egypt: the ‘sisterhood’ revolution

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2013/07/23/The-revolution-of-the-sisters-.html

- What kind of nonsense is that? I said women of the Muslim Brotherhood must take part in the demonstration. Why don’t they want to comply?

- They are concerned about harassment. It is a matter of chastity for them.

- It is not for nothing that I am ordering them to take part in the demonstration and take their toddlers with them so that the police would not attack the demonstration.

- Excuse me, but who is supposed to protect who? Women are supposed to protect men or men are supposed to protect women?

- Jihad is the duty of both men and women. We do not get husbands for these women and educate their children so that they would come up with lame excuses when we call upon them to take part in the Jihad. Women who refuse to join the demonstrations must leave their husbands’ houses and go back to their parents’.

This is the translation of a scene from an Egyptian TV drama of a dialogue between the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood and a senior member of the group. This drama was released during the Mubarak era, so it might be considered as yet another attempt to tarnish the image of the Brotherhood, an accusation that was leveled by several of the group’s members against the writer. However, while Brotherhood sympathizers thought he was too harsh, Brotherhood critics thought he was too lenient. Neither of the two camps, however, paid much attention to this particular scene, until it was appeared in real life three years later.

Life imitating art

When “sisters,” the name given to female members of the Muslim Brotherhood, were recently killed while they were taking part in a demonstration that supported ousted president Mohamed Mursi, it was expected that group leaders would point fingers at supporters of the June 30 “coup” as well as the police and the army.

What came as a surprise was the reaction of some young members who accused the leaders of sending those women to their deaths, instantly bringing to mind this previously overlooked scene. For the first time, it emerged that the “sisters” never take part in demonstrations without the direct orders of the leadership. While the reason mentioned by the supreme guide in the drama (to prevent the police attacking the demonstration) could still be valid, it seems that emotional manipulation rather than the protection of the rest of the demonstrators is the real motive behind the forced participation of women in the demonstrations.

While both reasons betray the group’s scheme of using women as human shields, the second puts no value on the lives of those women and actually makes their death seem like some kind of victory for the Brotherhood because it demonizes the other party and garners more support for the victims and the camp to which they are affiliated.

Their version of “equality”

While there is no real ethical difference between using men or women as cannon fodder, it is striking how the members of the Brotherhood, including those who objected to the recent orders, assume that women have no will of their own. It is even more striking how in the above-mentioned scene the supreme guide advocates equality when he refuses to consider “jihad” a duty that is confined to men, yet he undermines the very essence of equality when he robs those women of their freedom of choice and forces them to engage in an action that is by definition voluntary.

The Brotherhood’s concept of equality is, therefore, contingent upon the extent to which it can serve their ends. Those ends apparently take precedence over other values presumably cherished by the “pious.” The foremost of these values should be to protect women from sexual assaults, to which they are likely to be subjected in such demonstrations. Even in the most “infidel” of cultures, women are always given priority in rescue operations and you only need to watch Titanic to realize that. The Brotherhood is adopting a form of equality that is too “sophisticated” to be comprehended by societies in which women have become ministers and presidents.

Double standards – sister or Egyptian?

What is even more intriguing is the distinction the Muslim Brotherhood makes between the
“sisters” and other Egyptian women, and which ironically casts those who are not “sisters” in a better light. When a female protestor who was not a member of the Brotherhood was almost stripped naked by army officers two years ago, Brotherhood leaders, who were staunch supporters of the de facto ruler of the country at the time, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, did nothing but repeat the famous phrase, “What made her go there?”

Regardless of the fact that they were laying the blame on the woman for the humiliation to which she was subjected in public because she decided to go to the protest, they implied that this woman is free to decide where to go and to bear the consequences of doing so.  And so while trying to portray this protester and her like as lacking in dignity for being subjected to sexual assault, they actually endowed them with the most dignified of human qualities, free choice, which they deny their own women by forcing them to go to protests.

The Brotherhood’s reaction to the incident of the stripped woman might give the impression that since they appear to believe women should stir clear of any context that might present an affront to their chastity, they would never accept to have their women in similar situations. Yet, the recent deaths of their female members proved that this assumption was absolutely groundless. A scene in a TV drama that lasted for no more than two minutes served to explain that the exact opposite is true, and that female members of the Muslim Brotherhood are not the protected gems of magnanimous knights who would die before seeing any harm come their way.

The myth that the Muslim Brotherhood has been trying to promote about the difference between their women and the rest of Egyptian women has, therefore, been irreversibly deconstructed, to the advantage of the women they have been trying to degrade.

Women from both sides are attacked, humiliated, and even killed as a result of their involvement in activities that sadly are likely to lead to such outcomes, yet one group does so willingly, out of faith in a cause. The other participates unwillingly out of compliance with some hierarchical order that they are forced to obey. It is only when members of the second group start contemplating the difference between those two sets of concepts and make their choices based on this differentiation that the “sisters” will be able to shed off that name and realize how much more valuable it is to be called Egyptian.

Egyptian neo-terrorism

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2013/07/17/Egyptian-neo-terrorism.html

It was 2:00 p.m. in the city where 2:00 a.m. is as safe and lively. I was driving along a road that I have been frequenting for the past ten years or so. On my rear glass was a sticker that said “go down on June 30” and which I had decided to leave there for some time in tribute to that memorable day. A young man, possibly in his twenties, spotted the sticker and quickly beckoned his comrades, who seemed to have sprouted from the ground and in no time, they were blocking my way, each brandishing a knife. They started banging on the windows while shouting and cursing. I am not sure I was able to discern the names they called me, but I knew for a fact they were related to that sticker and I only remember one sentence that they yelled in unison like a professional chorus: “let them come to your rescue now!”

I was certain they would break the window any second and it was then that I remembered the advice I have heard repeatedly about running over whoever blocks your way regardless of what the consequences would be. I was not, however, ready to take anybody’s life even if it was in self-defense, so I just pressed the gas pedal slowly hoping this would scare them away. I actually hit one of them in the leg and when he fell the others were even more provoked so one of them knelt and tried to tear the tire.

A few seconds later a car parked next to mine and out came a man. He opened the trunk, got out a machine gun, and chased the boys while swearing to tear them to pieces and “throw their bodies to the dogs.” They magically vanished so that at a certain moment I started doubting they had actually existed. The man came to me and asked if I was alright. As far as I remembered, I stared at him and did not utter a word. He offered to stay in his car until I drove away and he did. He even followed me for a few minutes until he made sure I was able to drive which I miraculously managed to do until I got home. I did not even get the chance to thank him.

It is pointless to try to describe how I felt in those few minutes, but suffice it to say that a couple of days earlier a woman from Alexandria faced the exact same situation, but was not as lucky I was. The stabs she got were enough to end her life and there was obviously no brave and armed passerby to intervene in the last split second. This woman’s fate did not only haunt me because it might have been mine too, but I was also tormented by what felt like a survivor’s guilt as I could not help but wonder why she died and I survived. It got much worse when the initial personal agony gave way to the more general picture, for at the end of the day it was neither about me, nor about her, nor were the two of us the victims of random crimes that you can report at a police station, in the hope of having something stolen from you returned or of seeing a person who hurt you behind bars.

Organized vengeance

This, together with other attacks we have been hearing about lately, is part of an organized vengeance scheme that ushers a new era of terror and a new type of terrorism. Back in the 1990s, we all lived through the “no one is safe” nightmare, but it felt like there was a clearly defined enemy against which all the people were united, which is by no means the case at the moment.

I don’t think it matters much whether the men who attacked me and the Alexandrian woman and a whole lot of Egyptians who declared in one way or another their support for the ouster of the president are true believers in the “cause” or were hired to do the job. What matters most is the fact that civilians are assaulted, at times killed, for their political affiliations and that this is done by their fellow civilians who at a first glance do not seem to pose any kind of threat. The traditional image of extremist militants seeking refuge in the middle of mountains and chased across rugged terrains, has become confined to the Sinai Peninsula which is now replacing Upper Egypt as the hotbed of terrorism while cities are currently being infested by what can be termed “neo-terrorists.”

Neo-Nazism?

Like Neo-Nazism, this emerging trend seeks to revive an old practice in an innovative manner that is basically characterized by the absence of a direct confrontation between two conflicting parties so that the adversary remains nobody and everybody and so that all demarcation lines are too blurred to determine when and if the battle has come to an end and who has emerged victorious. It is a type of terrorism that makes of every spot an operational territory and renders precautions a matter of formality for in addition to blocking roads and attacking “opposition” motorists, there have been several incidents that involve storming houses in areas surrounding Islamist sit-ins and torturing, sometimes to death, potential “spies,” and shooting at bystanders who seem to belong to the other camp.

By virtue of being a loosely-structured group whose members do not necessarily follow a specific leadership, the neo-terrorists act with remarkable impunity and most of them have so far succeeded in getting away with their crimes. Their job is also much easier because of the apparent self-restraint lately exercised by the army and the police, both apparently keen on eschewing further accusations of human rights abuses following international criticism over excessive use of force against supporters of the ousted president as they attempted to “liberate” him from a military facility. Even when this policy changes, it will still be hard to track them down and prove their involvement in acts that are too politicized to be only criminal and too haphazard to be purely terrorist.

Unlike conventional terrorism, neo-terrorism attempts to change the balance of power in a more subtle way since its main objective is intimidation rather than killing. Even those who are actually killed are not targeted as persons, but are rather presented as examples. Unfortunately, this tactic cannot be deemed a failure. I, for one, removed the sticker right after the incident and was advised to tell this story to everyone I know so they can follow suit. I wouldn’t go as far as labeling this reaction cowardly even though I couldn’t help seeing it that way for a while, but I have to admit that they managed to rob many of us of a right as basic as a sticker on the glass of your own car.

True we don’t fight for stickers. We fight for causes. But then again what is the use of fighting for a cause if you cannot declare you are doing so!

Witch-hunt politics in Egypt

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2013/07/10/Witch-hunt-politics-in-Egypt.html

The term “witch hunt” always brings to mind two major incidents; one explains its historical origin and the other highlights its most memorable political manifestation.

The story goes that in 1692 in the village of Salem in colonial Massachusetts, two young girls dropped the white of an egg in a glass and waited for it to make shapes that would show them what their future husbands would looks like. Coming from a Puritan society, they knew the game was forbidden and so was any attempt to see through the future. That is why all hell broke loose when one of the girls imagined she saw the shape of a coffin. It is not clear what followed this incident, which in itself is now more of a folk tale than an actual occurrence, but they say that the girls started exhibiting eccentric behavioral patterns like muttering unintelligible words that sounded like incantations and contorting their bodies into physically challenging postures.

Failing to reach a medical diagnosis for their condition, the doctors finally concluded that the girls were bewitched to the horror of their parents, the clergy, and the entire village. After being severely questioned, the girls claimed that a Caribbean slave taught them voodoo and told them about her encounters with the devil. A spat of accusations followed with each of the accused pointing fingers at others to save their lives and with several girls in the village starting to show similar symptoms. Hundreds were put into jail and trials on witchcraft charges started. Dozens were hanged while others perished in prison or were tortured to death as the craze was fuelled by both an increasingly hostile religious discourse and a mass hysteria that made claims of a diabolic intervention seem credible. And that was what “which hunt” meant in the literal sense.

In 1950, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy announced that the State Department was infiltrated by Communists. At a time when the Soviet Union’s influence was growing in Eastern Europe and with the Chinese Civil War concluded in favor of Communists, Communism was already a major concern for the United States that served as the ideal soil for the “Red Scare” to take hold of citizens and officials alike. McCarthy accused many high ranking officials, both military and civilian, of Communist loyalties. His campaign included the administration of President Harry Truman, the United States Army, and Voice of America.

For two whole years, he interrogated his suspects, many of whom were reportedly tortured and forced into confessing crimes they did not commit and many others losing their jobs after their reputation was compromised. McCarthy was, however, unable to support his accusations by tangible evidence and he eventually failed to uncover any Communists whether inside or outside the government. Yet the reason for McCarthy’s fame, and which still endures till the present moment, was his astounding ability to engage the American public in a relentless pursuit of an imaginary enemy. It was this ability that led to the emergence of the term McCarthyism, which later came to mean the dogmatic leveling of unfounded accusations and the systematic use of intimidation to extract confessions as part of an attempt to eliminate an unproven threat. As McCarthy was referred to as a “witch hunter,” McCarthyism became the modern version of “witch hunting.” And that was how “witch hunt” became a political term.

Fear in Egypt

It was impossible not to remember those two classical examples when talk of witch-hunts started spreading across Egypt since of ouster of Mohammad Mursi and the subsequent clampdown on Muslim Brotherhood members and Islamic satellite channels. It was also impossible not to make a quick comparison between the current situation in Egypt and that of the United States in the 17th and 20th centuries. I managed to find one common factor and that was fear. Fear of witchcraft in an extremely religious society and fear of Communism in the context of the Cold War could be compared to fear of the return of the Muslim Brotherhood to the political scene. This fear is seen by a large number of activists and politicians as the main impetus behind the series of arrest warrants issued against leading figures in the group and the popular support for all measures taken to guarantee their exclusion from any future road map. This is not entirely untrue. This fear does exist and it is making many go as far as wishing to see every single Brotherhood member or sympathizer perishing in jail or banished to Siberia. Yet, unlike the devil and the red infiltration, this fear is not illusory and the communal shape it is taking cannot by any means be categorized as mass hysteria simply because the enemy is not imagined and its destructive powers are proven beyond any doubt.

Debating whether on not the official and popular reaction against the Brotherhood is a witch-hunt is similar to the revolution-versus-coup controversy in the sense that both cannot be evaluated in accordance with normal criteria. If we can call the June 30 protests a popular uprising with military support then the current stance on the Brotherhood can be considered a witch-hunt with real witches, each being an oxymoron that can only be addressed in a manner that is as exceptional as the circumstances through which Egypt is going at the moment. Arbitrary arrests and the closure of media outlets constitute a violation of civil liberties and collective punishment is definitely detrimental to the rule of law, yet it is only when seeing such actions in their context that the picture becomes clearer.

Used as cannon fodder

Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including the former president, clerics pledging allegiance to them, and channels promoting their ideologies are all implicated in a series of factional and sectarian crimes that were committed by their loyalists, who they use as cannon fodder, against whoever they perceived as a threat to their grip on power. The killing of Shiites shortly before the second revolution, attacks on Christians that have been going on since the Brotherhood came to power, and the recent attacks on peaceful protestors across the country and on a military establishment in which the ousted president is believed to be detained are but few outcomes of the jihadist discourse that has for the past year been breeding hatred against non-Islamists and which is still adopted by Brotherhood demagogues who are still at large. The victims would have doubled and tripled had the channels which were closed on the day of the ouster and which are known for their instigation of violence against religious minorities, women, and liberal parties and figures been left to do business as usual.

It is also important to note that while worshipping the devil might be a personal choice and espousing Communism is definitely an ideological preference, the Muslim Brotherhood is not an entity that can be integrated into the Egyptian political scene if not for all the disasters it had brought upon Egypt during its one single year in power then for the threat it poses on national security through sponsoring terrorism and pledging allegiance to an international organization whose project takes precedence over national interests. A quick look at the presidential pardons issued for militants serving prison sentences on terrorism charges, the fall of the Sinai Peninsula into the hands of extremist groups, and the suspicious alliance with Hamas all serve to drive the point home.

Nations go through life-changing moments that require drastic actions and the exclusion from public life of a party whose hands are tarnished with innocent blood and with whom the South African “truth and reconciliation” approach seems impossible becomes at times a national duty. If de-Stalinization was possible, there is no reason why de-Brotherhoodization would not. Plus, it is always permissible to hunt witches if you know for a fact that they exist!