Civil war in Egypt?

Unprecedented polarity in Brotherhood's power grab increases the risk of an 'all-out civil war'

The Arabic language press has dedicated a great deal of its opinion sections to Egypt's constitutional predicament and the political conduct of the Muslim Brotherhood. Several articles pointed out that President Mohammed Morsi's constitutional declaration sparked an unprecedented polarisation among Egyptians, running the risk of plunging the country into a civil war.

The Brotherhood's message to all Egyptians, not just the opposition, came through loud and clear: "Either we accept their dictatorship … or they would trigger civil war," wrote Nawara Negm in the Cairo-based paper Al Tahrir.

Looking at the recent unparalleled divisions caused by Mr Morsi's power grab, Egyptians could have already taken up arms against each other if they were not naturally a peaceful people, she said.

The Brotherhood seeks complete domination of Egypt, unmindful of the fact the Egyptian mindset would not tolerate a "victor or vanquished in the post-revolution political game".

The Brotherhood once dubbed people calling for the January 25 revolution "political adolescents"; they negotiated with a crumbling regime and with the military after the collapse, and criticised activists who were on the front lines of the protests.

In an article in the London-based Al Hayat, Mohammed Shouman wrote that Egypt is seeing attempts from Islamists to eliminate their traditional rivals and other forces within civil society. But their endeavours will end in failure thanks to a proactive middle class, a powerful youth force, the influential and independent legal system and media, plus other regional and world factors.

What is unfolding in Egypt is part of a larger polarisation that is escalating across the Arab region. There are secularists who see political Islam as a totalitarian ideology under the mask of religious slogans; and some Islamists argue that Arab societies need "purification", noted Youssef Al Dini in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

This power struggle cannot be decisively won by competing parties, no matter how large they are. The Brotherhood must know that although they might take over power, they cannot monopolise the state's institutions such as the judiciary and, law enforcement. This is beyond them both in terms of size and capability, Al Dini said.

The Brotherhood was persecuted for decades, but they apparently do not mind doing the same to others, as if offering a justification for the maltreatment it received by the former regimes.

Islamists used to say they sought only participation, not monopoly, but the developments so far have proved otherwise, bringing frustration even among those who stood by them against persecution, wrote Mohamed Krishan in Al Quds Al Arabi.

Moroccan political life started in university

"As students in the 1990s, we were quite naive. Our reality was dark but we painted the future rosy. We were like armless soldiers fighting on several fronts," recalled columnist Jamal Boudouma in the Moroccan newspaper Al Massae.

"From the lower classes, we climbed up to pursue our higher studies, with nothing but a meagre scholarship every three months," he said.

"We practiced all types of freedom: smoking our first cigarettes on campus, sitting with girls in the college cafeteria, chanting slogans, improvising demonstrations, and holding 'Halaqiyat' debates in the open air."

In the early 1990s, the Moroccan university was divided into two camps: "Comrades" and "Brothers", between whom future face-offs would see the bloodiest chapters. There were two extremes: the right calling for "Jihad against the atheist", and the left for "revolutionary violence against forces of obscurantism".

Radical leftists looked down upon factions urging reform of the regime. They were bent on toppling it to establish the "dictatorship of the proletariat".

Years have since elapsed. Slogans have died. Comrades and Brothers dispersed. Some went to the pilgrimage. Some have joined the regime's intelligence services. Some have become members in regime-aligned parties. And others members in parliament.

'Revolutionaries' can become 'colonisers'

The greatest revolutionaries in history are the ones who lead uprisings to serve their nations and people - not themselves and their sects. In many places, however, the "revolutionaries" have been involved with more tyranny, wrote Syrian journalist Faisal Al Qassem in the Qatari paper Al Sharq.

Looking back at a number of the third world revolutionaries, one realises that they had struggled not to liberate their nations, but to replace colonisers as thieves and tyrants, the writer said.

They were something of "national colonisers". Their pretext: "The legitimacy of the revolution", in the name of which they would tyrannise people for years "until God takes their lives".

Now, in an Arab country, the front that led the revolution against the coloniser is still clinging to power, for which it is ready to reduce the country to rubble.

Even worse, the tragedy does not end when these "revolutionaries" are gone. After they inherited their authority from their "revolutions", they passed them down to their offspring, even if they are lowest of the low, he said.

But unlike revolutionaries-turned-tyrants, only unselfish leaders like Nelson Mandela who did not hold onto power after victory will go down in history as heroes.

* Digest compiled by Translation Desk

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