Guestview: What has transpired in Egypt: peaceful demonstration or terror plot?
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Ibrahim Negm is Senior Advisor to the Grand Mufti of Egypt.
By Ibrahim Negm
In the fog of conflict that has paralyzed Egypt over the past few days, contradictory narratives have emerged as to what precisely has transpired. Some have claimed that the sit-ins of the past six weeks were entirely peaceful demonstrations, while others argue that we are dealing with a terror organization. The events of July 3 are described in equally diametrically opposed terms: some deem it a military coup, while others consider it a popular revolt.
The array of arguments and evidences marshaled by each side are bewildering, but amidst it all, one principle remains inviolate: All violence must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. This is a basic, bedrock value on which there can be no compromise, and to which all parties must agree.
I call on all sides in this conflict to put the interests of the nation ahead of personal interests. This is the only viable way to restore safety and security to the people of Egypt. The situation is quickly spiraling out of control, and the death and destruction of the past few days is heartbreaking in its scope and magnitude.
According to the most reliable narrative, it seems true that the Muslim Brotherhood protests in Raba’a Square in east Cairo were largely peaceful in its early phase. They were eye-witnesses and evidences, however, that arms were caught on cameras afterwards and 11 dead bodies with marks of severe torture were collected by healthcare authorities from the sit-in. Several inflammatory speeches by MB leadership instigating violence and terror were made and aired on satellite channels across Egypt. It is also clear that excessive and disproportionate force were used in dispersing the sit-in last Wednesday.
As a result, unfortunately, elements from among the pro-Brotherhood protesters have indeed turned violent and carried arms. More than 100 churches and many public buildings have been attacked and burned throughout the country. Egyptians have been terrorized in the heart of Cairo and Alexandria and many other provinces throughout the nation by gunmen who publicly identify themselves as pro-Morsi. It is unacceptable that our fellow citizens should be subjected to such danger. It should be the demand of every citizen that those who have perpetrated such violence be brought to full justice for their crimes.
We must stand against the manipulation of religion for sectarian and political aims, whether this is done by organized forces or by individuals who seek to take advantage of the situation to advance their own agendas. This is dangerous behavior and rhetoric which only inflames passions. It only leads to more destruction, and turns more people against them. It is unacceptable, and must be condemned for the thuggery and violence that it is. All such vigilantism must stop immediately and unconditionally. Such actions can never be a basis for democracy.
It has also been troubling to see the reaction among the international community. In many cases, there has been a premature rush to judgment at a time in which things remain tense and unresolved, and passions remain high. In the absence of an impartial and independent investigation into this week’s events, strong statements from international governments, media and agencies only serve to further muddy the waters, and often pose challenges to the ultimate goal of a cessation of violence.
Whatever becomes of Egypt after this period of crisis, one this is certain: it must succeed. Its contributions and history speak for themselves. Egypt is much more than its ousted presidential figure. It is a nation of richness, culture, and sincerity. It is a nation made by its people, genuine and dedicated. Moreover, it is of crucial political importance in the region. It is in the interest of all involved in the international community to do its utmost to help ensure its stability and prosperity.
It is important to acknowledge at this juncture the crucial role played by the armed forces in, asserting their respect for and unity with the Egyptian people, and ensuring that the welfare of the nation transcends all.