Egyptians between a rock and a hard place

Octavia Nasr
Octavia Nasr
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Editor's Note: If you believe that Muslim fundamentalism and its ensuing terrorism pose serious threats to the world, you will begin to have more answers about what is happening in Egypt than questions and frustrations.

Cairo, home of Islam’s most renowned mosque and authoritative university, al-Azhar, is also home to the Muslim Brotherhood which gave the world chief al-Qaeda man, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The very same Muslim Brotherhood that was outlawed because of its fundamentalist ideology, bloody history and murderous plots against any individual or people who didn’t fit its doctrine. The same Brotherhood that came to power democratically last year (only because of years of organized underground activism and a sizeable number of followers who do exactly as they’re told).

You become an accomplice when you remain in a protest knowing that it is not peaceful and extremely violent.

Octavia Nasr

We owe it to Egypt not to see things purely as black and white, good and bad or life and death. What makes us unique is our diversity and a critical mind that makes us skeptics, able to doubt and reviewing our position, maybe even change our mind and accept that “the other” might be right while we're wrong in finding our way to the truth.

The new Egypt did not repress the Brotherhood, quite the contrary. In the spirit of newfound freedom and inclusivity, Egypt embraced the Brotherhood and gave them a chance to prove how worthy they are of ruling a country and representing a nation as large, as diverse and as excited about its fresh revolution as Egypt was after toppling Hosni Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood failed at governing Egypt; but the true elephant in the room here is the Islamist agenda. Egyptians knew that the longer Mursi remained in power the worse things were going to get for non-Brotherhood Egyptians and for the country as a whole. They acted on this main fear by toppling Mursi as they did Mubarak before him. The military helped realize their demand and stopped short of a military takeover, knowing very well it can do that any time in the future.

Media errors

The media, Arab and Western, have played a role in a quagmire of disinformation and lack of substance. Early on after June 30, some media outlets took sides, and focused on the insignificant details when lives were in danger and real action was needed.

The west remains locked: coup or not, cutting U.S. Aid to Egyptian military or not. Discussions continue to rotate around those two themes totally disregarding calls and provocation by Muslim Brotherhood leaders for endless sit-ins and “rage” demonstrations. The majority of western media are turning a deaf ear to their mottos and shouting of slogans.

When people wage violent demonstrations against a military, what can one expect other than bloodshed? When someone brings the family to a square to “restore Mursi to power or die,” what can the outcome be other than massacres in a country known for its ruthless and bloody military, especially when chaos engulfs all aspects of life of millions Egyptians? There was a time to hold this conversation but many missed it. Instead they waited for blood to spill to talk and the media circus carried on.

All violence and all killings should be condemned whether committed by the military or the Brotherhood. Neither one is an answer to Egypt’s future. In the meantime, some tough questions remain.

Can someone voluntarily offer their life and blood on the altar of the Brotherhood and vow to fight till death, or more correctly, till “martyrdom,” and provoke violence and torch churches to incite more violence? Can a person like that really claim a victim status for himself and others like him after that? You become a warrior when you bear arms in a conflict. You become an accomplice when you remain in a protest knowing that it is not peaceful and extremely violent.

This article was first published in Annahar on August 20, 2013.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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