A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tiananmen Comes to Cairo

Ancient Egyptians believed the tears of Isis gave birth to the Nile flood. She has a lot to cry about today.

The "dispersal" of the pro-Morsi demonstrations at two sites in Cairo has predictably led to bloodshed, and Egypt has declared a State of Emergency. (Egyptians are well aware that the Emergency declared at the Sadat assassination in 1981 lasted more than 30 years.) The total number of dead is unclear, but there have  been clashes around the country as well, including Alexandria. The possibility of hundreds dead does not seem out of the question.

There have been some high-profile resignations (including ElBaradei) and will perhaps be more, but the fact is that many secular Egyptians were eager for this showdown and criticized the earlier decision to postpone it. The Sheikh al-Azhar, however, says he was not informed in advance and condemned the violence. The US has also condemned the violence; Marc Lynch has written an "Enough is enough" column saying it is time for the US to cut Egypt loose. It will be much harder to argue against such a move after the bloodshed.

Make no mistake: all the responsibility is not on one side. The Brotherhood supporters are attacking churches and initiating some of the clashes, but the descent into chaos is deepening regardless of the instigators.

A corner has clearly been turned. What lies beyond is another question.


David Mack said...

Mohamed Barradei showed he has a conscience, but the only Egyptian "leader" that I can think of who has come out of this as a winner is Aiman Al-Zawahiri. Not easy for any of the Muslim Brothers to counter his argument that democracy has no place for them.

T. Rice, Chicago said...

Did anyone think this was going to end any other way?

The Egyptian "secularists" who had no chance of winning a free and fair election jumped on the military bandwagon. They've got a reinvigorated State Security and today's massacre on their hands.

Protestations of "conscience" or "shock" at today's events demonstrate either (a) unmitigated hypocrisy, (b) inadvertent acknowledgement of their inability to think clearly, or (c) some combination of both.