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"Revolution" in Egypt
Military to Democracy Activists: Support Us or Go to Jail

Egypt’s military dealt a heavy blow to the liberal democracy movement that played a big role in toppling the Mubarak regime back in 2011. Three activist leaders—Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Douma—were convicted of participating in recent protests and sentenced to three years in prison and fined thousands of dollars. “It is time to shut up, to stay quiet,” the director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information told the New York Times. “There is only one choice — to support the military or to be in jail.”

The jailing of the three democracy activists follows charges against top leaders of the Islamist movement, including President Morsi, in recent days. Egypt’s military leaders are carefully picking off their enemies.

Last week Morsi and thirty-four of his colleagues were charged with crimes that carry the death penalty; the state prosecutor called it “the biggest case of conspiracy in the history of Egypt.” Later that same day, heavily armed state security agents raided the offices of a prominent human rights organization and detained Mr. Adel, a co-founder of the April 6 youth movement. Witnesses said the agents didn’t produce a warrant for the invasion, beat staff members, and ransacked the office during a nine-hour ordeal.

In a letter he wrote on toilet paper from prison, Mr. Maher decried the state of Egypt in these dark days. “Torture in police stations remains, while the Ministry of Interior is back to what it was. The protest law was passed, and the oppression of freedoms is back… The youth of the revolution are in prison.”

The military’s methods for consolidating power are becoming clear: promise to hold elections, put the old government back together, stabilize the economy, pick off enemies, and weaken rival organizations. Meanwhile, the international community is holding its tongue. Most Egyptians, for their part, seem grateful for the returning stability that the military provides, and are more concerned with putting their lives back together than inquiring after what charges are brought against various noisy democracy activists.

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  • qet

    In looking on the events in Egypt and in other Middle East nations following their various respective “Springs” of recent years, one would do well to recall what Raymond Aron wrote of the French Revolution: “The fact is that the Ancien Regime collapsed at one blow, almost without resistance, and that it took France nearly a century to find another regime acceptable to the majority of the nation.”
    The turmoil in the Middle East is just getting started.

    • ljgude

      Interesting point. I tend to see something like the 30 years war in the current Middle East. But yes Egypt’s struggle unique and quite different from what is happening in Turkey, not to mention Syria.

      • Corlyss

        Twenty years of that war have already passed. How about the 100 years war? It’s modernity they are fighting and have been since 1914.

  • Corlyss

    Methinks the author does a monumental disservice to readers by calling those demonstrators “Demonstrators for Democracy.” There is no liberal democracy movement in Egypt. There’s “our thugs” and “your thugs.” The so called liberal democracy movement by now has been fully exposed as a front for the MB whose facility with the symbols and vocabulary of democracy conceal their real intent. WE know it. YOU know it. The only ignoramuses in the equation is the Obama administration, which is hoist by its own petard in listening to the words and refusing to look behind them. The smartest thing the US could do under the circumstances, but won’t because the entire foreign policy apparatus is populated with gushing liberal fools, is to give all the money it can afford to the military to establish stability in the most important nation in the middle east.

    • TommyTwo

      “The so called liberal democracy movement by now has been fully exposed
      as a front for the MB whose facility with the symbols and vocabulary of
      democracy conceal their real intent.”

      They’re so good at this concealment that they were protesting against the MB when it was in power, with some of them being arrested (with the attendant prison treatment).

      I’ll grant you that
      1. The “liberal democracy movement” is not a majority.
      2. Quite a few of them are so only in relative terms.
      3. They have served, as has happened too often throughout the world, as unwitting facilitators for very illiberal forces.

      I am further not in disagreement with the stability-first policy.

      But your blanket dismissal of the very real human rights activists in Egypt, who are under attack from both the military thugs and the Islamist thugs, leaves a bad taste.

      • Corlyss

        Well, we’re in violent agreement on most of the major points in this issue. It’s a tangential matter that I have less than a microscopic amount of sympathy for people so naïve as to style themselves “human rights workers” in a jurisdiction where rule of law is thugocracy by the “in” gang. I’m an old traditionalist: I don’t think any sleep or lives should be lost over people who are at their roots Darwin Awards candidates. The only way to improve human rights is winning the civil war and establishing a genuine rule of law based on the same respect for minority rights and religious freedom that motivated enlightened Western rulers in the 18th century, something that is as remote for the region as travel at the speed of light. They’ve got a long way to go and they should be left alone to work it out without a lot of interference from obsessive do-gooders demanding the impossible. That probably won’t improve the taste, but at least you know where I stand. The dismissal NOT accidental or unintended or indeed ill-considered; it was purposeful and intended and the product of some thought on the matter. I’ll try not to belabor the point.

        • TommyTwo

          I’ll note that this enlightenment did not alight on Europe full born, but was the fruit of many Darwin Awards candidates. The alternative is being a victim of a no-end-in-sight protection racket.

          That said, despite my sympathy for those of good will in Egypt, I don’t have much advice for them other than “Sucks to be you.” As you write, the situation in that region is grim, and what Egypt seems to need most right now is stability.

    • Andrew Allison

      I agree, but was saddened to see you follow TF’s example of misuse of “Hoisted”. When the Petard was hoisted (by prematurely exploding), it took the operator with it ;<)}

      • Corlyss

        Would you be happier with “by”? My old English teacher told us it was a lance and image evoked was a knight burying his lance tip in the ground and being heaved out of the saddle on his lance handle. I labored under that misapprehension for decades.

        • Andrew Allison

          “it took the operator WITH it ;<)}"

          • Corlyss

            Okay. I bow to your superior wielding of prepositions. 🙂

          • TommyTwo

            “With” is not an operator, it is a reserved word that serves as a statement.

          • Andrew Allison

            The operator gets hoisted. ;<)}

      • TommyTwo

        Oh! Would you believe I never noticed that “s?” I thought the expression meant: “His petard went off prematurely, and he was badly hoit. And boined.”



        • Andrew Allison

          The Feed.

  • Peripatetic

    WRM: I’d like to see more of your (really helpful) analysis of how the Egyptian “deep state” is behaving in all of this. It seems to me that one of the most important (and neglected) aspects of the Arab Spring(s) is the way in which bureaucracies can undermine challenges to the status quo with quiet, behind-the-scenes methods that the media can’t readily recognize or conceptualize.

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