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An Impending Bloodbath in Egypt: Will It Break the Coup?

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Headlined to H2 8/2/13

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Another popular myth is the claim that in less than eight weeks 22 million registered voters signed a petition to demand early presidential elections as a prelude to the June 30 demonstrations. But the Tamarrod (or Rebellion) movement was established in late April by three young individuals and did not have an organizational infrastructure. Such an improbable feat would have required 4 million hours or half a million man-hours per week. Needless to say, no one has ever verified the authenticity of this petition. By contrast, the MB in 2010 was only able to gather less than one million anti-Mubarak signatures over several months, even with its massive organizational infrastructure on the ground.

Meanwhile, the official and pro-coup private media (incorporating almost all Egyptian-based media with the exception of Al-Jazeera Egypt) totally ignored the anti-coup demonstrators and declared by the end of the day that the Egyptian people have given Gen. Sisi his mandate to clamp down on the MB and their supporters. By midnight, the police, supported by hundreds of thugs, attacked a peaceful march of tens of thousands of pro-Morsi demonstrators in northeast Cairo. Over several hours, the police used thousands of tear gas canisters causing severe burns and suffocation. It used live ammunition that deliberately killed over 200 protesters, including 66 that were pronounced clinically dead. It also used birdshot that caused serious injuries. 

By the end of the 10-hour turkey shoot there were over 5,000 people injured in addition to the fatalities. Doctors at the field hospital next to the area where the demonstrators have camped for weeks appealed for the public to donate blood and emergency medical supplies. The next day the government blamed the demonstrators as Interior Minister Gen. Muhammad Ibrahim blatantly lied that his officers did not fire a single shot against any demonstrator, not just on that day but ever -- not even during Mubarak's time. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned the killing and categorically blamed the government.

The Manufacturing of Hatred, The Death of Conscience, and the Return of the Police State

After the triumph of the 2011 uprising, many Egyptians proudly asserted that the most important achievements of this momentous event were the freedoms enjoyed by all Egyptians unleashed in its wake -- of speech, press, assembly, and political association. In his last speech to the nation, Morsi boasted that during his one-year tenure not a single TV channel or newspaper was closed or a journalist imprisoned because of political opinion. In fact, Morsi issued a decree last fall that decriminalized a Mubarak-era law that outlawed written or verbal insults hurled at the president. In addition, there were no political prisoners during Morsi's reign, even though hundreds of violent demonstrations had taken place including the torching of dozens of government buildings and private properties, including the attack on the presidential palace using a crane and Molotov cocktails.

Yet in less than a month after the military coup, there have been more than 480 people killed, over 10,000 injured, and over 2,000 political arrests without legitimate charges for simply rejecting the coup. Al-Wasat (Center) Party leader Abulela Madi and his deputy Esam Sultan were arrested on July 29 and later charged with incitement and conspiracy to murder. According to Madi's son, both political leaders were told at the time of their arrest that if they were to publicly support the coup they would not be arrested. Both summarily rejected the offer and went to prison.

During his press conference, Gen. Ibrahim nonchalantly acknowledged the return of the secret unit in charge of monitoring and prosecuting religious groups and individuals even though it was disbanded after the 2011 uprising. Not only was this unit reconstituted, but it rehired the same notorious officers who were in charge of the torture chambers during the Mubarak regime. They now have been reinstated to resume their infamous brutal tactics presumably with total impunity. Such blatant action prompted former presidential candidate Abdelmoneim Abol Fotouh, who initially accepted the ouster of Morsi, to reverse himself and question the coup's real objectives.

Furthermore, within minutes of the ouster of Morsi, at least nine pro-Morsi TV stations were taken off the air. Remarkably, the Egyptian media, whether official or private, is precipitously singing to the same tune. With the exception of Al-Jazeera, rarely would one now find any criticism of Gen. Sisi or the coup on any TV channel. For weeks the Egyptian media has been relentless in portraying the MB and their supporters as violent, terrorists, extremists, foreign agents, conspirators, and murderers. 

The vicious campaign has the combined features of fascism and McCarthyism. It embodies the hate-filled 1930s campaign of Nazi Germany against the Jews, and the ugly media-led incitement of the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s. It has even reached the point where the state and liberal media or government officials and secular elites have rarely shown any sympathy to the killed or injured at the hands of the army or the police, as if they were foreign enemies or dangerous criminals, and not simply their political opponents. Such portrayals prompted prominent columnist Fahmy Howaidy to question whether the collective conscience of the Egyptian people has been fatally wounded.

esam

In the aftermath of the December 16, 2011 massacre by the army in front of the Council of Ministers building that resulted in a few deaths, ElBaradei tweeted that the brutal crackdown on the peaceful demonstrators was unacceptable, inhuman, and in violation of all standards of decency and human rights. In addition, during that period Hazem ElBeblawi resigned as deputy prime minister to protest the army's crackdown on the youth protesters, calling it barbaric. Having been appointed by the coup leaders as vice president and prime minister respectively, both men have given lip service to the hundreds of people killed while peacefully protesting the coup. One of the few voices that questioned the double standard of Egyptian liberals was Amr Hamzawy, himself a secular and liberal. He decried the death of Egyptian liberalism and cried out for its revival, for which he was not only criticized by the Egyptian media and the liberal elites, but has since been ostracized and viciously attacked.

Regrettably, many U.S. and Western media outlets, including such alternative media as Democracy Now! (DN), repeated much of the fabricated rhetoric about the violent behavior of MB supporters and anti-coup protesters within their camps and designated sit-ins. For example, without citing any evidence, the DN correspondent in Cairo repeated the preposterous claim that the MB demonstrators exhibited violent behavior or carried weapons. In fact, the anti-coup leaders have extended an open invitation to all journalists, media outlets, human rights organizations, and NGOs to join them and have unfettered access to inspect the whole area to demonstrate the nature of their peaceful protests.

Showdown: A Humiliating Proposal faced with Determination to Reinstate Morsi and Restore the Constitution

Meanwhile, the anti-coup demonstrators have shown determination and resilience. For five weeks they have not only rallied by the hundreds of thousands within major squares in Cairo and Giza, but were also able to expand and attract many pro-democracy groups and ordinary citizens who did not consider themselves particularly ideologically affiliated with the Islamists. Every day dozens of rallies in every province attract thousands of ordinary citizens who in turn march against the military coup declaring their rejection of its ramifications. Despite the intense heat, the fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the police crackdowns and harassment, the demonstrators have only increased in numbers. Furthermore, dozens of groups have been formed that joined the protesters against the coup: academics against the coup, students against the coup, journalists against the coup, etc., as well as lawyers, judges, farmers, laborers, professional syndicates, Azhari scholars, and even some Coptic liberals such as human rights activist and lawyer Nevine Milak.

However, throughout the crisis, coup leaders have shown no sympathy or willingness to compromise or engage in serious dialogue. Their empty rhetoric exhibited the language of the victor over the vanquished. According to a well-placed source close to the MB, by the fourth week, the military sent a proposal to a senior MB leader and former minister. It called for the MB to immediately disband their sit-ins, end their demonstrations, recognize and accept the new political reality (i.e., the military coup), and admit to their mishandling of ruling the country. In return, the military promised to release all MB prisoners, drop the charges, and allow the group to participate in the political process. The intermediary further told the MB leadership that in the next parliamentary elections the group would only be allowed to win 15-20 percent of the seats, while all the Islamic parties combined would not exceed 30 percent, a warning sign of fraudulent elections. The interlocutor then made it clear that the proposal was not subject to negotiation, but was a matter of "take it or leave it." He warned that if the proposal was rejected, the military not only would crack down heavily on the group to end their protests, but also that their group and affiliated party would soon be dissolved and outlawed. The MB defiantly rejected the offer out of hand, and vowed to remain in the streets, continue their peaceful protests, escalate their mobilization efforts, and further develop their civil disobedience until victory or death at the hands of the military and the police.

The U.S. and the West: It is not Confused, but Confusing

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Esam Al-Amin is a regular contributor for a number of websites.
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