The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The protests as seen by the anti-Morsi camp


According to the above cartoon, these are the types of Morsi supporters: The Ignorant, he was told by a sheikh that opposing Morsi is forbidden; The Sheep, he’s motivated to join the pro-protest to create a traffic jam and he doesn’t know why he here is; The Ikhwani, he is brainwashed and for anything his MB leaders tell him to do; The Terrorist, the one who came from Gaza to kill and destroy; The One With Military Issues, he thinks that this is a conspiracy and thinks Morsi didn’t get a chance yet, and The Israel Lovers, the one who stands to benefit from the existence of the MB and terrorism in Egypt.

The word polarization fails to describe what is happening now. Public opinion is more of an aggregation of wishes for the defeat, suffering and death of certain members of the public, who are no longer considered members altogether, by other members of the public, whom they no longer consider members of the public.

Case in point, the sentence “We need to cleanse Egypt of (insert group of people you disagree with)” is one I hear everywhere. The refusal to accept that the country will not run out of islamists or secularists for many years, if ever, and that neither party can be effectively shunned from society, is making conversations simply exhausting.

One can’t comment a single event without being interrogated about everything they have said or done in the past two years and a half. Oh, so you condemn the army for yesterday’s violence? Tell me again, did you sign Tamarod? Would you say you frowned more or less when the army killed Christian protesters at Maspero?

On FJP’s official page on FB, there is a group of commenters, who are solely dedicated to writing the words “Sisi” over and over again to aggravate the “sore losers” that are the Brothers. That’s not to say that the anti-Morsi camp is the only one guilty of demonization and propaganda, the  MB has been doing that before it became mainstream.

But now with many islamic channels shut down (thanks to a superb, and an effective, plan to prevent incitement and violence), the delicate balance of verbal abuse on TV is lost. And Al Jazeera can’t keep up with half a dozen Egyptian channels working 24/7. Especially after some of its reporters denounced them and quit on TV, and another got kicked out of a press conference by fellow journalists, who were particularly angered by Al Jazeera’s reference to the Egyptian army as “al-Sisi’s brigades.”

Meanwhile, the so-called secular media has gone into overdrive, only broadcasting footage from Tahrir and other opposition centers, even when there is hardly anyone there, and entirely ignoring Rabaa al-Adawiya and other islamist protests in and out of Cairo. This, Yasser Abdulaziz, a media expert and last night’s guest on Yosri Fouda’s show, subtly suggested was the reason behind the death of 61 people at the RG’s HQ.

“The islamists knew that if they were to stay in Rabaa al-Adawiya for ten years; nothing would have happened. But if they were to go the the Republican Guard’s HQ and clash; they would be in the top news,” he speculated, with half a smile. His point was clear: the MB instigated the attack to get a few dozens of its own members killed to gain foreign and domestic sympathies and make the military look bad, coup-bad.

However, Abdulaziz’s theory is popular. In fact, most MB opponents did nothing yesterday but try to piece together evidence to support it: “Did you know that Gehad al-Haddad (the MB’s spokesman) told BBC to before the attack? So he knew the attack was going to happen, they planned it!”  “If they were really praying as they claimed; how come some of the corpses still have shoes on?” “The clashes started around 4:45 am and fajr is at 3:18 am! Praying, ha!” “Mecca is in the opposite direction of the RG’s HQ, so if they were really praying the entry wounds should be from behind rather than in their faces and chest (because if someone started shooting at one from behind during prayer, one would simply carry on and never look back)” “Why (is the FJP) writing in English for? Because they want the West to know their side of the story. They want to make it look like a coup!” “The FJP posted pictures of live bullets as if it is proof they were fired at by the army. All this proves is that (the protesters) have bullets! Peaceful protesters, yeah right.”

“If the MB wanted to frame the army, surely they could have shot a gun a few times and taken a picture of some fired bullets. They are not that stupid, people,” my neighbor said sharply to our TV. Her brother was shot last night at Rabaa by mistake, she presumed, since he was just a “lightly bearded” passerby.

I would have agreed with Nadia, if it weren’t for the fact that the MB took pictures of dead Syrian and tried to pass them off as victims of the RG. Twice.  In addition to their spokesperson, Ahmed Araf, kept insisting that four, of the 57 victims, were children despite the health ministry’s report and the absence of (Egyptian) children in the footage. Not to mention el-Beltagy’s spontaneous admission that the mini-war is taking place in Sinai MB-controlled and will only stop when Morsi is reinstated. That and the MB’s identity crisis: Are you the Jihadists who will “crush (Morsi’s) opponents” and barge into the RG’s HQ to get Morsi back and sit him behind his desk again you say you are, or are you the chanting peaceful protesters you also say you are?

On the other hand, interim president Adly Mansour ordered the formation of yet another fact-finding committee to investigate the events. So it’s settled: we will never know what exactly happened yesterday or who’s at fault now.