More tellingly, jihadis in the nearby Nour Mosque opened fire on the military from the windows of the minaret; and when the military stormed the mosque, apprehending the snipers, all the Muslim Brotherhood had to say was: “We also condemn the aggression [from the military] against the house of God (Nour Mosque) and the arrest of people from within”—without bothering to denounce the terror such people were committing from within ‘the house of God.”
It is worthwhile contrasting this episode with last year’s Maspero massacre, when Egypt’s Coptic Christians demonstrated because their churches were constantly being attacked. Then, the military burst forth with tanks, intentionally running Christians over, killing dozens, and trying to frame the Copts for the violence (all of which was quickly exposed as lies). Likewise, while some accuse the Copts of housing weapons in their churches to “conquer” Egypt, here is more evidence that mosques are stockpiled with weapons.
At any rate, what was billed as a “protest” was quickly exposed as Islamists doing their thing—waging jihad against the infidel foe. Yet this time, their foe was the Egyptian army; as opposed to SCAF—the entrenched, and largely disliked, ruling military council—the Egyptian army is popular with most Egyptians.
As one Egyptian political activist put it, “The public doesn’t differentiate between Salafists, Wahhabis or Muslim Brotherhood any more. They are all Islamists. They have lost support with the public, it is irreversible. Egyptians have seen their army and soldiers being attacked. It has stirred a lot of emotions.” A BBC report concurs: “The army holds a special, respected place in Egyptian society, and as far as many Egyptians were concerned it was attacked, not by a foreign enemy, but by Islamists…. One soldier died in the attack. Egyptian TV also showed dramatic pictures of injured soldiers.”
The remarks of an Egyptian news anchorwoman as she showed such violent clips are further noteworthy. In dismay, she rhetorically asked: “Who is the enemy? They [protesters] are calling for jihad against whom? Are our soldiers being attacked by Israeli soldiers—or is it our own people attacking them? Why don’t you go fight the Israeli enemy to liberate Palestine! Who are you liberating Egypt from? This is unacceptable. Do you people want a nation or do you want constant jihad—and a jihad against whom, exactly”?
To place her comments in context, known that, in Egypt, jihadis are often portrayed as the “good guys”—fighting for Egypt’s honor, fighting to “liberate Palestine,” and so on—while Israel is portrayed as the natural recipient of jihad. After Friday’s violent clash, however, Egyptians are learning that no one is immune from the destructive forces of jihad, including Egypt itself and its guardian, the military. Two weeks before the presidential elections, perhaps Egyptians are also learning that an Islamist president—just like his followers on display last Friday—will bring only more chaos and oppression. Time will tell.
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