Boston Herald: Dr. El-Baz on Violence in Egypt
Muslim protesters in Egypt felt the full weight of a military backlash yesterday, as armored vehicles and air power were used to break up sit-ins by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, leaving at least 278 people dead and thousands injured, government officials said.
Some observers hold out hope that Egypt’s shaky struggle for democracy can still be saved. But others say the military’s taste for power has been renewed and the prospect of giving it up is highly unlikely.
“This looked bad from the beginning. I kept saying it was a military coup because that’s what happened,” said Jim Walsh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Security Studies Program, noting the military has played a central role in governing Egypt for 60 of the past 61 years and the high-ranking military leaders in the interim government’s power structure now show that is not changing.
Walsh added that despite the strength of the crackdown, “This does not mean the Muslim Brotherhood will disappear. They can’t fight the government head on, so they’ll go back to their roots and this will strengthen their extremism.”
Vice President Mohamed El-Baradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and pro-reform leader in the interim government, resigned in protest over the assaults as the military-backed leadership imposed a monthlong state of emergency and nighttime curfew.
Clashes broke out elsewhere in the capital and other provinces as Islamist anger spread over the dispersal of the 6-week-old sit-ins by Morsi’s supporters that divided Egypt.
It was the highest single-day death toll since the 18-day uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Boston University professor Farouk El-Baz, an Egyptian native with immediate family still living there, said he strongly disagreed with the government’s action in routing out the Muslim Brotherhood with military might, but he has a more optimistic view of the future, expecting government heavy-handed tactics to fade with time and for democratic institutions to take over.
“We all know they can enforce the law, but to solve this problem without bloodshed would have been much better. They should leave them be and let things improve in the country, then they would leave on their own, one by one, and the problem would melt away,” El-Baz said.
“No revolution reaps its benefits right away. Democracy is messy. You can’t create a real democracy overnight, it takes time for a democracy to take off.”