The above photo was posted by France’s Le Monde on their Facebook page on July 7th, a relatively “tranquil” scene on the Qasr al-Nil Bridge. Although Egypt was in turmoil then, having unseated ruling president Mohammed Morsi just 4 days earlier, it is nothing compared to the violence and disaster ripping through the city right now.
The Jan 25 Uprising was notable because of its lack of violence; in just a few weeks protesters managed to get former President Hosni Mubarak to resign, and a new Egypt was born without much bloodshed or physical damage to the city, what with most of the protesting taking place in Tahrir Square. Now, since Mohammed Morsi’s ouster, Egypt has taken a turn down a decidedly bloody path, with more than 600 people dead in the past few days alone.
A friend of my husband compared Egypt to Iraq, saying that the pro-Morsi supporters want Egypt to be like Iraq: weak and fragmented, with people divided by religion and sect. But why, even if it allowed the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters power, would they want to live in a country that is dangerous, uneasy and in shambles? I don’t see what pleasure it is to govern a country that is crumbled in ruin, much less how one would want to live in such a place.
At the present moment, Egypt seems to resemble the current state of affairs in Syria. Although the country is not in real civil war, with armies (even if the one is rather rag-tag) fighting each other, it seems to be perilously close to full-out battle: buildings are being burned, streets vandalized and bodies covered in simple white cloths lining the streets. The current curfew starts at the ridiculously early hour of 7pm until morning; a state of emergency has been declared; people are being gunned down in the street by other pro-MB thugs or members of the army/police, who, in my opinion, are not choosing the proper method of “keeping the peace.” Sure, if someone is shooting at you one must defend oneself, but I’m betting that not everyone killed was holding a gun or even protesting.
Like Syria, Egyptian’s are being divided according to their loyalties: the religious Muslim Brotherhood/conservatives versus the secular and pro-democratic supporters (and, of course, the army and police). The MB and conservatives view their opponents as “against Allah;” is this not similiar to Syria, where you have the rebel jihadists, who are generally more conservative, fighting President Bashar al-Assad and his secular, minority Alawite group? Alas, I found myself questioning my support. In Syria I wholeheartedly support the “rebels,” because Al-Assad has been in power for too long and clearly, besides being corrupt, does not believe in democracy (and you call yourself a ‘president???’) The Syrian Civil War has been waging for too long now and whoever wins will do so at a bitter price: they will be the victors of a thoroughly ruined country.
In Egypt, however, I am siding with the Egyptian Army and pro-Democrats. Egypt is not the place for outright Islamic rule, as I have mentioned before, due to its sizable Christian population. The MB was corrupt and power-hungry just like Mubarak and his party before them. Morsi was disposed because he wasn’t doing the job, and while the MB supporters have every right to protest, it is highly un-Islamic of them to vandalize buildings, especially churches (oh, how democratic of you!) and to start shooting people. I don’t believe the army is handling it the best way they could, but I’m not giving the Morsi supporters a free pass either.
My husband is currently in Egypt right now, having (rather poorly) chosen to take a two-vacation now when the United States STEP program is currently emailing American citizens NOT to travel there and, if they are there, to remain extremely cautious. He took the following photos of the devastation on Wednesday: