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Some Egyptians See Crackdown as Necessary

  • Elizabeth Arrott

"For Some Egyptians, Crackdown is OK" - related video report by Elizabeth Arrott

"For Some Egyptians, Crackdown is OK" - related video report by Elizabeth Arrott

International condemnation over the bloodshed in Egypt has been swift and strong. But not everyone inside the country is taking such a critical view and some go to great lengths to defend the crackdown as necessary.

As many countries recoil at Egypt's violent crackdown on anti-government protesters, the nation's Armed Forces chief, General Abdel Fatah el-Sissi, argues the actions are based on a popular mandate.

The general proclaimed that he values “the honor of protecting the will of the people” more than “honor of ruling Egypt.”

The victims of the crackdown, of course, are the people of Egypt as well. But for a large segment of society, the affiliation of the dead appears to make all the difference.

It is not only police and soldiers confronting the Muslim Brotherhood-led protests. Popular committees have sprung up - some, the baltagiya, or thugs - in the pay of security forces. But others are ordinary citizens protecting their neighborhoods.

Such was the case when protesters took refuge in a Cairo mosque earlier this month.

"It was not the police or the army that was attacking the people who were inside, it was the people. So when they left, if you look at some of the videos, people were shouting and wanted to beat them and it was the police and the army that were protecting [them],” said political sociologist Said Sadek.

Anger against the Brotherhood and Islamist President Mohamed Morsi built throughout his year in office. Economic woes and perceived exclusionary politics led to massive popular protests and military intervention.

Resentment of the Islamists spread beyond ordinary citizens. Even advocates of democracy and long-time critics of the military's role in Egyptian politics accept the military ouster of the nation's first freely-elected leader.

"President Morsi betrayed the Egyptian revolution. Before he was elected they told the secular liberals that the slogan of the revolution - 'No to a theocratic state. No to a military state' - will be respected. He did not respect it,” said Sadek.

The hundreds of deaths are seen, with reluctance by some, as the price of historical change. The better choice to them is a return, temporarily, to a military state.

Hisham Kassem, a voice of dissent before the 2011 revolution, once spoke vehemently against state of emergency and martial law, back in place after the crackdown began.

"I understand there is a need for it, okay, but i was hoping it would be imposed for a week. But in a month if there is no reason for a martial law to still remain imposed, I will go out there and fight it, okay, and this has to be the attitude,” said Kassem.

He argued it's vital to understand what is necessary for the moment, but then push again for what Egyptians wanted in the first place.
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