On Wednesday, Egyptian military commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi missed an opportunity to cool down inflamed spirits. Instead, he called on Egyptians to take to the streets this Friday to provide the support necessary to the army to confront “violence and potential terrorism,” a figure of speech for the villain of the hour, the Muslim Brotherhood.
This move was so misguided because what Egypt is in dire need of right now is a strong sense of justice. Since the 1952 revolution, arbitrary action has been the modus operandi, always leaving a segment of the population marginalized. For most of those years, the bad guys were the Muslim Brotherhood. During the period between the ousting of Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi, it was secular protesters.
Why not announce a thorough investigation into the deaths of so many protesters since January 25, 2011, and bring the accused to courts? Instead, Mubarak’s trial has been continuously postponed, Coptic Egyptians are still wondering about the Maspero events of October 2011, and most recently, the attack on the Republican Guard has fueled rumors and conspiracy theories.
Egyptians are left hanging and making up their own minds, and because the country is so politically divided, it only provides ammunition against each other. If justice were allowed to follow its course, there could be a sense of satisfaction that would allow everyone to make amends and live alongside each other again.
Because, as comedian Bassem Youssef pointed out earlier this month, getting rid of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is an impossible task. And this is true for everyone else. Instead, what General Sisi has done is provoke more passion and more discrimination by vilifying the Muslim Brotherhood and other Morsi supporters. This is a slippery slope for Egypt.
As expected, the Muslim Brotherhood strongly condemned Sisi’s speech, going as far as calling it “an invitation to civil war." It may or may not be such an invitation — let’s hope it isn’t. But as journalist Sarah Carr aptly pointed out, the speech, which was undoubtedly calling for violence, was delivered by the commander of the Egyptian army, not the interim president Adly Mansour. (In fact, Mansour was urging for reconciliation earlier this week.)
Then, what will happen if Friday's protests are successful? Will Egypt’s maligned security apparatus be launched against Morsi supporters? If so, how will they be dealt with? If the past is any indication, there will be bloodshed. Reasonable force is an unfamiliar concept for Egyptian security forces.
The situation has become critical. Extrajudicial means to counter violence in Egypt must come to an end. In a twist of fate, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have become victims of a system they failed to abolish, but that is by no means a reason to justify it. The current situation is a no-win game for anyone involved.