x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Succumbing to hatred means risking an Egyptian civil war

The ousting of president Mohammed Morsi in a military coup dominated the opinion pages of Arabic-language newspapers.

Among the scenarios in place for the future Egypt is a one- to two-year interim rule. This involves two options: either the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamists will be part of it, or not. "Any wise person who loves this country must fight to preclude isolation of Islamists or others from the scene, because this would led us to the Algerian scenario," observed Emad Eddine Hussein in an article in the Cairo-based newspaper Al Shorouk.

"Disagree as you wish with the Islamist trend; but don't forget they are an authentic component in Egyptian society," he wrote. "They won a majority in the parliament and they won the presidential elections. No person in their right mind should think of excluding this component."

Democracy, as US president Barack Obama told ousted president Mohammed Morsi, is about more than elections; it is also about ensuring that the voices of millions on the streets are heard.

The Brotherhood have failed in government, and they got their comeuppance. Yet isolating them will run the risk of turning them into wounded tigers.

They are not going to acknowledge failure easily; they will keep blaming the holdovers from the old regime, the counterrevolution and foreign conspiracy. Still, they should not be driven into a corner.

On Tuesday night, a massacre took place in Bein Al Sarayat district near Cairo University where pro-Brotherhood demonstrators were. 18 people were killed and hundreds were left injured, the writer reported, adding that whoever gave the order to fire at protesters must be brought to justice. Failure to do so will send a message that this is the method awaiting members and supporters of the Brotherhood, or any other opponents.

Amid conflicting accounts, what exactly happened is still unknown. But such criminal acts must absolutely not be justified or pass unnoticed.

Fahmi Huwaidi wrote in Al Shorouk that Egypt now faces two serious threats: hatred engulfing society and the propensity for destructing the state's pillars.

Rejection of the Hosni Mubarak regime was driven more by anger than by hate. And the desire to right his wrongs overwhelmed the zeal to destroy what he built. This was the case although Mr Mubarak insulted Egypt and Egyptians during his rule.

In the year-long rule of Mr Morsi, the main factor leading to mass protests was failure to meet people's expectations, not humiliation, the writer noted. Whether failure was due to inexperience, the short period, mishandling, or the heavy legacy, the fact of the matter is that mistakes are not comparable to the major sins of the old regime.

Succumbing to sentiments of hatred runs the risk of unleashing a civil war; and political exclusion of Islamists is not only practically impossible, it is detrimental to the national interest.

The epic collapse that ended Morsi's reign

As anti-Morsi protests seemed to be gaining in momentum in the past few days, Khairat Al Shater, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, reportedly said: "If Mohammed Morsi falls, the Muslim Brotherhood will not reach power in Egypt again, not even in 50 years."

In comment, the columnist Rajeh Al Khoury wrote in the Lebanese daily Annahar: "This indicates that the Brotherhood decided to risk everything and stand not only against the Egyptian people who filled streets and squares clamouring 'Leave', but also against the Egyptian army, the protector of the revolution."

Hence, when Mr Morsi chose to address the 30 million Egyptians gathered in squares on Tuesday night with a disillusioned speech filled with redundant slogans, he seemed rather naïve.

The Muslim Brotherhood was persecuted in Egypt since the Nasser era in the 1950s. They remained marginalised until they pounced on the revolution in 2011, which they now seem to have lost for good due to their foolish policies.

"There was something comical about a man challenging 30 million of his countrymen," the writer observed.

Mr Morsi and the Brotherhood forgot that the legitimacy they clung to, and which Mr Morsi mentioned 37 times in his last speech, is given only by the people… and the people finally decided to take it back, the writer said.

Brotherhood missed historic opportunity

The Muslim Brotherhood has two groups, hawks and doves. But the upper hand has always been with the hawkish members. Their mantra is: "We do not make concessions because concessions threaten the organisation."

And that is the message conveyed to Mohammed Morsi, the Egyptian president who was ousted in a military coup on Wednesday, wrote Abdulrahman Al Rashed in for the London-based Asharq Al Awsat.

The Brotherhood's deputy, Khairat Al Shater, advised Mr Morsi against accepting the army's call for a political solution with the opposition before the situation becomes worse.

The second view within the Brotherhood is conciliatory. Members who hold this view asked the ousted president to accept the opposition's demands, Al Rashed wrote.

Other Islamist groups asked him to cooperate with the opposition. Rashed Al Ghanouchi, the leader of Tunisia's Ennahda Party, reportedly told Mr Morsi to reconcile with the opposition groups, saying "we've become old as we waited for this historic opportunity".

The Brotherhood has lost this moment. They have lost the largest Arab country, which was handed over to them on a silver plate.

* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk