Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood’s human sacrifice.18 June 2019
A huge crowd had been assembled as I watched from an 11th floor balcony. The masses below were waiting with increasing impatience for the election supervisor to announce the result of what was billed as Egypt’s first ever democratic election in 2012. Many thousands of supporters had been bussed in from the Egyptian countryside and smaller cities, and many thousands more had walked in from Cairo’s teeming surrounds.
Tahrir means Liberation or Freedom. A name originally given to the square to mark the end of British or French hegemony over the Arab world’s most populous state.
In 2011 it attained international fame as huge crowds launched a brave and song-filled rebellion against President Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorial rule.
On February 11 2011, made the crowds exultant chants of “he’s down he’s gone”, I crawled under a tank to get inside the surging crowd. Minutes earlier an army officer had announced Mubarak’s forced ‘resignation’.
Now, here again, was a historic moment in Egypt’s revolution.
Loyalists, some of whom were hiding weapons under their clothes, had told me they would “not leave the square alive” if they were “robbed” of victory. They suspected the army’s preferred candidate would be declared the winner. They roared with delight for minutes as the opposite turned out to be the case.
In 2013, Morsi lost power – toppled by the army. Mass protests in Raba Square in a different part of the capital city turned bloody soon after dawn as soldiers gunned down around 800 of the thousands of demonstrators encamped there. I went inside the mosque alongside where many wounded demonstrators had laid dying. Workers were already mopping up the blood, aiming to restore Cairo to “normality”.
Morsi – or rather those really in control of the Muslim Briotherhood – has made a series of “mistakes”. In appointing new regional governors he had rejected opposition demands for a more inclusive rule by granting these top positions to seven more Muslim Brothers. Worse than this, Morsi has appointed a member of al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, a U.S.-designated terrorist organisation, to govern Luxor, which was the site of a 1997 al-Gamaa terrorist attack in which 58 tourists were murdered. Predictably, these appointments set off immediate—and often violent—demonstrations. The governor had resigned a week after his appointment.
So on June 30 2013 Egyptians found themselves on the eve of yet another planned mass demonstration. It was part of a confrontation”between an enraged opposition seeking a new uprising whose ‘success’ depends on its ability to foment unprecedented chaos; and an utterly incapable, confrontational ruling party that now counts some of Egypt’s most violent political elements as its core supporters. Whatever happens… it can’t end well,” an expert presciently wrote in the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Two days later, al-Gamaa leader Assem Abdel Maged announced that, “the Islamists will face violence with violence on June 30,” warning that his organization would respond to violence by declaring an Islamic state from Tahrir Square. Abdel Maged was imprisoned from 1981 to 2006 for providing “moral and material” support to the assassins of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and he previously shared a prison cell with the Islamists who later became the al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.