by Chas Danner
Friday night, Egyptian security forces laid siege to Cairo’s al-Fath mosque, where pro-Morsi protesters had been holding up after Wednesday’s massacre and Friday’s violence, which killed at least 173 people. Once the mosque complex was cleared, as many as 1,000 protesters were arrested. Yesterday, another 38 Morsi supporters were killed while in police custody, apparently suffocated by tear-gas inhalation under circumstances which remain unclear. Then today, 25 off-duty police officers were found executed on the side of a road in Sinai, as is purported to be seen in the tweet above. Sharif Abdel Kouddous is certain the chaos will continue:
As Egypt plunges headfirst into a deadly downward spiral with no end in sight, many of its citizens are baying for still more blood. Both sides leading the conflict, the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, are playing a zero-sum game, based on a false binary demanding that Egyptians choose one or the other. Both are defined by hierarchy, patriarchy, secrecy, mendacity and a blinding sense of their own superiority. Both are juggernauts in the Egyptian body politic that have heedlessly clawed away at Egypt’s social fabric in their struggle for power, proving time and again that their own political and economic interests trump all. …
Today, many of the revolutionaries who fought the country’s successive authoritarian regimes—first Mubarak, then the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, then the Muslim Brotherhood—now find themselves sitting on the sidelines, pushed out of the discourse and forced to watch as the bloodletting continues. The transformative revolutionary moment that exploded on January 25, 2011, has become a faint glimmer, in danger of being extinguished completely. “Despair is betrayal” is the mantra that has echoed throughout Egypt during the many tough times over the past two and half years. Today, it is very hard not to feel like a traitor.
The Coptic Orthodox church had just opened in April after 13 years of construction, in a country where the government strictly curtails building permits for churches. Now, its elaborate dome stands above a ruined, charred interior. The walls are blackened and rubble litters the floor. A picture of Jesus is half burned, the charred edges curling where they were licked by flames.
“The religion of God is Islam,” reads graffiti sprayed in yellow on a wall of the church. Three burned out cars, one of them upside down, rest in the courtyard. Next to the gate, sprayed in black, is another phrase: “Victory or martyrdom.”
The Saint Virgin Mary church in Al Nazla is one of 47 churches and monasteries that have been burned, robbed, or attacked since Aug. 14 in a wave of violence against Christians since the brutal police crackdown on the former president’s supporters, according to Ishak Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. He adds that dozens of Christian schools, other religious buildings, homes and shops have also been attacked and burned, and seven Christians killed. Police have done little to stop the attacks.
And lest anyone forget Egypt’s economy, which is still a complete mess and getting worse due to the near total cessation of tourism as well as widespread cancellation of foreign investments. Nonetheless, H.A. Hellyer thinks the country can still right itself:
The future of politics in Egypt, along with the regional and international repercussions that accompany it, directly depends on how this crisis is resolved. The same path that was open before this terrible turn of events is still open. The basic outlines of a political accommodation are still there for everyone to grasp. An interim government is unsustainable, and means for little or no accountability of anyone — and the reinstatement of Morsi is also a bad move. Fresh presidential elections under the watch of international observers are needed as soon as possible, but that is only a starting point. Consensus is key to unlocking Egypt’s deadlock — and that demands an alternative vote system for the presidency. Whoever becomes Egypt’s next civilian president must have the largest possible mandate and be best positioned within a vote system in which the winner is the first or second choice out of many candidates.
That consensus cannot be established without the full participation of all political forces in the country — and that means the Muslim Brotherhood, popular or not, must be permitted to have political representation as a group.