Egyptian ‘Liberals’ Are Out for Blood

They have lost all moral high ground by supporting the military's violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood

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Yuri Kozyrev / Noor for TIME

Egyptian supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi wave their national flag as they attend a rally in support of the former Islamist leader outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo, on July 8, 2013.

Last month, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Egypt’s new military strongman, asked Egyptians to “come out to give me the mandate and order to confront violence and potential terrorism.” What al-Sisi sought was a green light from the Egyptian street to put down the Muslim Brotherhood, whose supporters were still protesting on behalf of the country’s first elected President, Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi, whom al-Sisi removed from office and jailed on July 3.

Yesterday, al-Sisi put his mandate to work when security forces attacked demonstrators in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities and villages throughout Egypt. At this point, 575 people are confirmed dead nationwide. Only time will tell if al-Sisi has eradicated the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, but the death knell is already ringing for another of Egypt’s famous political movements: liberalism.

(MORE: Egypt in a State of Emergency: Live Updates From the Scene)

Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the face of Egyptian liberalism, resigned on account of Wednesday’s violence, but the reality is that many of those Egyptians who define themselves as liberals supported the July coup as well as today’s crackdown. “Egypt’s liberals are trying to ignore the fact that people are being murdered,” says Samuel Tadros, an Egypt expert and a fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. In doing so, Tadros told me in a recent interview, they have lost any claim to a moral high ground. “For liberalism to succeed, it needs to explain why this political worldview is superior to others. It’s not just about the material benefits of economic liberalism, but why it’s better for man. Man, after all, does not live by bread alone. Here, Egyptian liberalism has failed completely. The liberals in support of the coup and the violent crackdown have abandoned morality for short-term political gains.”

It’s understandable that many Egyptians are concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood’s religiously fundamentalist and paranoid worldview. But the fact that people who describe themselves as liberals want to see their neighbors’ blood shed suggests that their liberalism isn’t what we typically mean by a political doctrine that prizes individual freedom and seeks as little interference from the state as possible. The reality is that Egypt’s liberals have aligned themselves with the military — the very same regime that they protested against during the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

(MORE: What Happened in Egypt Was Not Democratic)

Why have liberals turned from democracy, albeit a very imperfect one, back to the military? As Tadros explains in his new book, Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity, Egypt’s liberals have always depended on the state for their advancement, for education, employment and social status. “In Egypt,” Tadros tells me, “liberalism didn’t start as it did in Europe with the emergence of an independent bourgeoisie that sought to limit the powers of the state and other entrenched institutions. In Egypt, liberalism was born with the rise of the civil-servant class in the mid–19th century. Since civil servants are a part of the state, this liberalism is not at all interested in limiting the role of the state.”

Moreover, whereas Western liberals have historically seen it as their role to educate their fellow citizens in liberal values, Egyptian liberals have always seen this as the job of the state. Should the state prove incapable of inculcating others with the same ideas and ambitions, then it is up to the state to protect the liberals from what they perceive as the unwashed masses, i.e., their neighbors. And right now it is the Muslim Brothers and their Islamist partners whom the liberals see as a threat that needs to be put down.

In addition to acting in bad faith, the liberals have made a bad deal by siding with the army. Because the liberals never prepared the ground for liberalism, they left it wide open for the Islamists, who over 80 years built a grassroots network that combined political indoctrination with social services that earned them respect and admiration — which is why Morsi won the presidential election in June 2012. In spite of al-Sisi’s crackdown, the Muslim Brotherhood will almost surely return — and next time better organized and, holding a vendetta against the army and the millions who clamored for the Brotherhood’s blood, much angrier. In the meantime, as Tadros argues, “it’s the Muslim Brotherhood, and not the liberals, who can claim the moral high ground.”

184 comments
kitkat21
kitkat21

The lies people tell themselves to rationalize the widespread, disproportionate violence.  And btw, how many people were killed when occupy wall street or the taksim protests were broken up? Less than 10 total!!!  Get the picture!!  And it wasn't for lack of violence in turkey: protesters damaged 103 police cruisers, 207 automobiles, 15 ambulances and 280 buildings and buses in demonstrations across the country.  The turks should have just called this terrorism and shot everyone.  

Attacks on copts and churches are absolutely reprehensible.  But do they justify killing 1000 protesters, most of whom are unarmed?  No!  People seem to think if 1 islamist attacks a church then shooting another islamist (or 1000 islamists) is ok.  Not all islamists are the same... some commit crimes, others don't. If you have 100,000 people protesting, you can't say that 3 people holding guns makes the whole group guilty. 

People are ALL held responsible for their actions, not for the acts of others.  And who will hold this soldier shooting a clearly unarmed protester responsible? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfwHhfQEzyM

Or will you say the church burnings made his life worthless?  If so, that is the logic of terrorists.


helsayes
helsayes

The Brotherhood is made up of terrorists and terrorist supporters, plain and simple, and their agenda calls for nothing less than complete dominance of Islam and Sharia law. The Egyptian people decided to fight those fascists to get back their freedom and democracy. In wars for freedom killings do occur.

WhereIsJustice
WhereIsJustice

@helsayes You seems to forget about democracy.. In democracy majority wins and rules.. this is what egyptian people voted for.. You seems to be supporting murderous illegitimate thugs with no moral values whatsoever.. Do you call it freedom when your rights to protest are taken away.. state sponsored terrorism by sisi and gang on unarmed civilians.. imprisoning any voice of opposition.. if this is what you want then good luck you people are silly.. Sisi and his gang will steal your 2011 revolution and you will not have any freedom for long time to come.. Sisi will impose repression and oppression...

LeylaMaker
LeylaMaker


http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=3cd07c43-8499-4879-8323-f66eadd3d6e2http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/136572?http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=20b3871f-0004-4295-8268-80c6bb40afc0http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/08/13/coptic-christian-killed-while-walking-home-from-bible-class-in-egypt/?intcmp=obinsitehttp://www.itv.com/news/update/2013-08-16/24-policemen-killed-in-deadly-protests-across-egypt/?http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=adb0d8fc-cf73-45ca-94f8-1059ec9c77aehttp://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/coptic-orthodox-church-diocese-of-los-angeles-more-than-40-coptic-christian-churches-burned-and-torched-throughout-egypt-219930381.html?http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=0439f8c5-a2b7-457c-995f-40a525e7ba5chttp://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=857ac443-c4bc-429e-9432-7475ba73fef5http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/coptic-orthodox-church-diocese-of-los-angeles-more-than-40-coptic-christian-churches-burned-and-torched-throughout-egypt-219930381.html?

LeylaMaker
LeylaMaker

you should call it not "Time Ideas", but "Time With No Brains"

amestms
amestms

This is addressed specifically to people who believe the claims being made by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  Before you take the high ground and condemn the police force and the army, the most recent peaceful and unarmed protest breakups that were conducted violently: (1) Occupy Wall Street, NYC SF and others (2) Taksim Square, Turkey where the hypocrite that used force is the one calling the UN Security Council to meet (3) London, PM  to the effect of when national security is at stake, don't talk to me about human rights. 

Regardless of what you think, in America and Europe should a group of protester stage a sit in and disrupt traffic, tenant access, destroy public property, build barricades and it is proven that they are armed, they will be dispersed by force.  Regardless of what the rest of the population things.  That is the international language.  So, whats fair there is fair all over the world.  Don't talk to me about more than the application of law here.  While all the other atrocities will leave an impact on Egyptians,  the basic premise is unarguable.

Otherwise it would seem that the western world would like double standards.  We can do what we want but you can not.

jivatmanx
jivatmanx

The Brotherhood quickly lost that high ground after going on a rampage against Christians and Churches. 


JConabicycle
JConabicycle

@jivatmanx Never mind just Christians, the Brotherhood murders shi'as and calls them infidels.  They are lower than the sewer.  Murdering thugs.

KamalFarhi
KamalFarhi

I am not a liberal. Thats what you make of it. I am a muslim and hate the Muslim Brotherhood. 

jimmyjimmyjimmy111
jimmyjimmyjimmy111

You wouldn't hear a single positive spin on the MB if they hadn't made nice with Israel while in power. Keep sucking the Zionist teat Times.com.