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Cole writes: "Within Egypt, and in many other Arab countries, the shocking killings of Black Wednesday have elicited horror in many quarters, but have actually been supported in many others."

Juan Cole. (photo: Informed Comment)
Juan Cole. (photo: Informed Comment)


Egypt's Waco

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

16 August 13

 

ithin Egypt, and in many other Arab countries, the shocking killings of Black Wednesday have elicited horror in many quarters, but have actually been supported in many others. I am in the horrified camp, and ask myself how in the world people can be indifferent to or even justified what the Egyptian military did.

It is always dangerous to try to explain an unpleasant reality, since some inept readers will assume that explanation is justification. All I can say is, it's not.

Those anti-Muslim Brotherhood Egyptians and Arabs who feel little sympathy for the victims typically depict the Brotherhood as a violent cult stockpiling weapons and kidnapping and torturing people. That is, they speak about the sit-ins in Giza and Nasr City the way the Clinton administration spoke of the Waco cult of Branch Davidians, which US law enforcement besieged and attacked in winter of 1993. Just as the Branch Davidians were depicted as closed, cultish, deviant, violent stockpilers of weapons, so that is increasingly the language used about the Muslim Brotherhood by their critics in the region. President Clinton blamed them for the fires that killed members during the FBI assault, including children. I should underline that the Muslim Brotherhood is a major group in Egypt and not in fact analogous to a small cult like the Branch Davidians. I'm just talking about the attitude to them among the military, the old Mubarak elite and even the Rebellion or Tamarrud youth spokespeople, who led the effort to unseat Muhammad Morsi.

These observers are struck not by the body count but by what they call the clear evidence of weapons stockpiles at the sit-ins.

It is true that on Wednesday and Thursday, Muslim Brotherhood cadres did deploy firearms against the police, killing some 50 of them. There was a report of the Brotherhood actually using mortar rounds against a police station in the upper Egyptian city of Asyut. Euronews reports that Brotherhood attackers took over the governorate offices of Giza with firearms and then burned it (see also RT:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkfz76xvvbk

 

Brotherhood cadres have also burned down at least 12 Coptic Christian churches and attacked 28 others in the past two days, as well as shooting dead at least 3 random Christians. They blame the Copts for supporting the coup against Morsi, though the Copts as a minority of 10% of the population are powerless and hardly conducted the coup.

But such violence (inexcusable as it is, especially toward innocent Christians) is an outcome of the coup and of the dispersal of their protests, and was not typical of the movement in the past 3 decades.

According to opinion polling, some 57% of Egyptians either felt that the Brotherhood protesters at the sit-ins were terrorists or included terrorists among them. Only about a fifth sympathized with them. Nearly two-thirds wanted the sit-ins broken up "immediately" (though they mostly preferred it be done "peacefully." These findings are shocking, since the mainstream of the Muslim Brotherhood gave up violence in the 1970s and has been participating in parliamentary elections (even though until 2011 they were known to be rigged) since them. Moreover, I suspect that these attitudes stem from the past year of Brotherhood rule, since Gallup found that in early 2012 some 60% of Egyptians had a favorable view of the Brotherhood, which fell to 19% in early June, 2013. Morsi's violent crushing of protests against his constitutional decree of November, 2012 putting himself above the law, including the alleged deployment of Brotherhood paramilitary against the New Left youth crowds, seems to have been a major turning point in shaping images of the movement.

The Tamarrud or Rebellion movement of Mahmoud Badr and others had actually forwarded a memo to the United Nations asking them to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as an international terrorist organization.

A splinter group of the Muslim Brotherhood, "The Brotherhood without Violence" is also making wild charges that the inner circles of the Brotherhood leadership are planning a bloody campaign of violent reprisals.

It is not only Egypt. The Kuwaiti newspaper al-Siyasa headlined on Thursday after the bloody events, "Egypt breaks up Sit-in of the Brotherhood of Terror," saying the long-suffering Egyptian people had awaited the end of this nightmare of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had turned city squares into armed camps.

Entertainment stars even got into the action. Asked about the car bomb in a Shiite neighborhood of Beirut that killed 18 on Thursday and the events in Cairo, diva Haifa Wahba expressed anguish at the region's terrorism problem and asked God to "save us from those cannibals and from blind hatred." I think she was referring to the perpetrators of the car bomb, but in the general context some people in the region read her as denouncing the Muslim Brotherhood as cannibals along with the violent Sunni extremists of Beirut. (Haifa is from a mixed Shiite and Christian background, and is known for steamy music videos, so Sunni fundamentalism would certainly not like her very much).

It should just be pointed out that the far Right in the US considered Waco an unjustifiable massacre, and that the Oklahoma City bombing of the Federal building, among the worst instances of domestic terrorism in US history, came about in part as a reaction to it.

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0 # Moffo 2013-08-16 16:14
and who are you to know better than the majority of Egyptians ?
 
 
+5 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-16 18:38
Is popularity proof of truth? If so, when and under what circumstances and within what contingencies?

Juan Cole is attempting to bring some moral sanity to a very confusing and still-unfolding event.

Moral righteousness is not what he is offering; it does appear to be what you are insisting upon, based upon popular approval.
 
 
0 # Activista 2013-08-17 11:02
www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy‎
a : government by the people; especially : RULE of the MAJORITY. b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them ...
 
 
0 # DPM 2013-08-16 22:57
Reminiscent, though much bloodier, of the breakup of the Occupy movement by our own corporate owned police forces.
 
 
+6 # Sunflower 2013-08-17 07:44
We can thank Aipac and fellow travelers for the US support of the Egyptian military, a point that is little mentioned on NPR.

When will the people of the US get informed and get mad about our support of Israel, a foreign policy disaster, and stop US tax dollars from being spent on the immoral oppression of people in Egypt, and Palestine?
 
 
-2 # Rick Levy 2013-08-17 20:05
I knew that some moron would drag Israel as the villain into this discussion.
 
 
0 # Activista 2013-08-17 22:55
Quoting Rick Levy:
I knew that some moron would drag Israel as the villain into this discussion.

Tamarod movement calls on Egyptian government to cancel Camp David peace treaty
Jerusalem Post‎ - it is about time ... stop foreign military aid to Egypt ($1.5 billion per year) and Israel ($3 billion per year)
 
 
+3 # kalpal 2013-08-17 08:46
Some decades ago in Syria the MS tried to assassinate Hafez Assad. The next day all MB prisoners were killed as they tried to escape. Following that the city of Hama was bombarded and 20,000 people were killed so the MB either left Syria or went deeply underground.

It was the MB who murdered Anwar Sadat after he signed a peace treaty with Israel.

Is there anyone out there who imagines that the MB will ever be benevolent towards anyone who fails to bow down to its imperious dictates?
 
 
+4 # ProLife Progressive 2013-08-17 10:05
I think your sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood is misguided. They use what ever means justifies the end...restorati on of the Ottoman Empire with allegiance only to the Muslim Religion and no tolerance of any other religion. Perhaps a look at the history of Eastern Africa, with the centuries old oppressions and jihads, as well as a reading of Ghost Wars and Dirty Wars and would help you understand the dangers of working with the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
 
+2 # Sunflower 2013-08-17 14:25
Quoting ProLife Progressive:
I think your sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood is misguided. They use what ever means justifies the end...restoration of the Ottoman Empire with allegiance only to the Muslim Religion and no tolerance of any other religion. Perhaps a look at the history of Eastern Africa, with the centuries old oppressions and jihads, as well as a reading of Ghost Wars and Dirty Wars and would help you understand the dangers of working with the Muslim Brotherhood.


Saying that we want to cut off the support of the US for the Egyptian military does not imply support of the Muslim Brotherhood, in case you took my message as support of the MB. The reason AIPAC and fellow zionists want US dollars to continue to flow to Egypt is that they are buying off the Egyptians
to prevent an attack on Israel. Let's wake up to this, and demand that they follow the law and not fund a coup, which is what is happening now.
 
 
+2 # Activista 2013-08-17 11:09
"The Brotherhood without Violence" is also making wild charges that the inner circles of the Brotherhood leadership are planning a bloody campaign of violent reprisals...
Juan Cole provided excellent references from both side of the Egypt military putsch.
But I conclude just the opposite - that inner circles of the Brotherhood leadership are planning a bloody campaign of violent reprisals .. with support from Qatar, Saudi Arabia ... repeat Syria, Libya scenario of civil war ...
 
 
+1 # Dion Giles 2013-08-17 22:39
Moslems of multiple original nationalities have been demonstrating in Australia against the coup, emphasising that they are speaking not just for Egypt but for Islam, that what is at stake is secularism vs Islam. This central theme, that secularism and Islam are in collision in Egypt, has been omitted from most media reporting. But Morsi’s constitutional decrees were raising massive alarm, with the streets packed with demonstrators saying no to Morsi and no to theocracy. Islamic rule means punishment of apostasy, blasphemy, impiety, heresy, unbelief – in a word, dissent (cf. many countries like Pakistan where Islam rules the streets and the legal system). The Enlightenment, which underpins the nearest thing to liberty that humanity has ever experienced, is under threat from this as much as it is from fascism, which in Egypt is exploiting and sidelining the popular resistance to the Islamist theocrats in a murderous crackdown of its own against the Arab Spring. Racist Israel sighs with nervous relief!

Israel with US backing inflicts outrage after outrage on the people whose land it occupies – yet what brings Moslems out on the Western streets and demanding (and where they can exacting) revenge seems to be not that but opposition to the power of their religion and slights to its symbols. This is whether the opposition is brutal fascist slaughter or something as trivial as a cartoon or a nutter’s crappy film or a novel which hasn’t shown due deference.
 

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