Robert Fisk Independent/UK 14 August 2013
The Egyptian crucible has broken. The “unity” of Egypt – that all-embracing, patriotic, essential glue that has bound the nation together since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952 and the rule of Nasser – has melted amid the massacres, gun battles and fury of yesterday’s suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood. A hundred dead – 200, 300 “martyrs” – makes no difference: for millions of Egyptians, the path of democracy has been torn up amid live fire and brutality. What Muslim seeking a state based on his or her religion will ever trust the ballot box again?
This is not Brotherhood vs army, though that is how our Western statesmen will try to portray this tragedy. Today’s violence has created a cruel division within Egyptian society that will take years to heal; between leftists and secularists and Christian Copts and Sunni Muslim villagers, between people and police, between Brotherhood and army. The burning of churches was an inevitable corollary of this terrible business.
In Algeria in 1992, in Cairo in 2013 – and who knows what happens in Tunisia in the coming weeks and months? – Muslims who won power, fairly and democratically through the common vote, have been hurled from power. And who can forget our vicious siege of Gaza when Palestinians voted – again democratically – for Hamas? No matter how many mistakes the Brotherhood made in Egypt – no matter how promiscuous or fatuous their rule – the democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by the army. It was a coup.
The Brotherhood, of course, should long ago have curbed its amour propre and tried to keep within the shell of the pseudo-democracy that the army permitted in Egypt – not because it was fair or acceptable or just, but because the alternative was bound to be a return to clandestinity, to midnight arrests and torture and martyrdom. This has been the historical role of the Brotherhood – with periods of shameful collaboration with British occupiers and Egyptian military dictators – and a return to the darkness suggests only two outcomes: that the Brotherhood will be extinguished in violence, or will succeed at some far distant date – heaven spare Egypt such a fate – in creating an Islamist autocracy.
The pundits went about their poisonous work today before the first corpse was in its grave. Can Egypt avoid a civil war? Will the “terrorist” Brotherhood be wiped out by the loyal army? What about those who demonstrated before Morsi’s overthrow? Every violent incident in Sinai, every gun in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood will now be used to persuade the world that the organisation was the right arm of al-Qa’ida. Al-Sisi will come under much scrutiny in the coming days.. And many of the middle-class intellectuals who have thrown their support behind the army will have to squeeze their consciences into a bottle to accommodate future events.
What expired today was the idea that Egypt regarded all her people as her children. For the Brotherhood victims today – along with the police and pro-government supporters – were also children of Egypt. And no one said so. They had become the “terrorists”, the enemy of the people. That is Egypt’s new heritage. [Abridged]http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/cairo-massacre-after-today-what-muslim-will-ever-trust-the-ballot-box-