August 17, 2013 | 10:56 pm
Posted by Ariel Blumenthal
The BBC News Hour reporter was clearly taken aback by the Egyptian interviewee he talked to on the streets of Cairo. The man was expressing unsettling support for the military’s action that left at least 638 Muslim Brotherhood members dead.
The number of casualties is unreal. It’s difficult to cope with this scope of disaster or with the idea that soldiers - ordinary people and representatives of the government, can take part in such a political massacre. (Or that a citizen in the street would show support for it on the BBC News Hour).
The Egyptian civilization is clearly very different than ours. A report from Egypt from March 9th illustrates that: “22 killed in riots sparked by the sentencing to death of 21 people following the death of 74 soccer fans in a game at Port Said”. Death and more death, horror after horror after horror.
The brutality of the war in Egypt is not the only shocker. The pace and velocity of the drama there are no less hair-raising: The Muslim Brotherhood, the military’s arch-nemesis, went from rags to riches, from jail cell to the President’s palace in a matter of months. Preventing this from happening was the military’s raison d’etre, but they did tolerate two years of the unthinkable - Muslim Brotherhood rule. Eventually, the military had decided to snap out of it. Now we’re talking about the destruction and dissolution of the Brotherhood, there’s no compromise or negotiations here, it’s total, life or death.
Nothing new here. The epic battle between Egyptian military rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood has been going on for decades, with similar middle-ages mentality. There’s only one new aggravating factor: this is now going on under unprecedented international scrutiny, and a serial pull out of international corporations from Egypt is the first, immediate result.
The Democratic world doesn’t play this way, this is all very foreign: The outrageous violence, the confusing burst of spontaneous street-democracy that landed Morsi back in the jail cell, up until his dramatic address from Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday, even President Obama looked like a camel caught in the headlights.
The President was equally blamed for supporting both sides; Perhaps it’d ease American guilt and confusion to internalize that there’s no good side here, no candidate for support - at least not on moral grounds. The events in Egypt are unacceptable across the board (just like in Syria), it’s a screenplay with no character you can identify with, and that movie - anybody in Hollywood can tell you - is never going to be made.
The Generals have a clear head-start with the Western public because they’re not religious fanatics. They’re wrong to think that’d sustain support though: Lack of moral clarity tends to end up with total identification with the victim
Victimization is perhaps the dominant political principle of this generation. The victim is sanctified, exempt. We’ve seen human rights champions hug it out with the un-liberal leaders of Hamas; We’ve seen Brotherhood-affiliates from the Turkish IHH on board the Mavi Marmara pump each other with fantasies of glorious violence and chant antisemitic slogans all the way to their unfortunate encounter with the Israeli navy, just to be dismissed by world opinion (and the UN) as aggressed victims.
Congratulations, Muslim Brotherhood, you’ve been accepted into the program. If all goes well, the Brotherhood will be granted a blank slate any American with bad credit would kill for.
On PRI’s The World Thursday edition, host Marco Wurman ended the program reading portions from the tragic text correspondence between 26 years old Habiba Abdel Aziz, who ended up dead in Cairo on Wednesday, with her mother. The text messages didn’t include a mother’s call to get out of an area where religious extremists known for their desire to die for Allah are getting ready to confront a blood-thirsty military. It did end, though, with a troubling line, an essence of radical Islam, texted by Habiba most likely seconds before her death:
“Death, here we come. We are not afraid of you, but you from us”
When read with enough pomp, even this chilling choice of a 26 year-old sounds heroic.
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