Before I begin, let me state some facts, so that when people begin the ad hominem attacks they can try to rein them in within the following boundaries:

I voted for Mohamed Morsi in the second round of the presidential elections (to keep Ahmed Shafiq out).

I am one of the administrators of a blog called “MB in English” that features English translations of awful statements of a sectarian, conspiratorial or bonkers nature that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) intends for domestic consumption only.

I am against army intervention in politics.

I state all this because Egyptian politics and society in general are currently split along identity lines in a way that they have never been over the last three years. This problem is so chronic that the merits or flaws of an argument are almost entirely determined by who is making the argument, considered through a haze of fury and suspicion.

The Muslim Brotherhood should have been left to fail as they had not (yet) committed an act justifying Morsi’s removal by the military. The price Egypt has paid and will pay for the consequences of this decision are too high.

For the past week, I have been trundling between the pro- and anti-Morsi protests. It is like traveling between two planets. The pro-camp has significantly more men than woman — although there are women and children there — and it lacks the social diversity of the anti-camp. I have never seen one unveiled woman who is not a journalist there. I have never met a Christian or encountered any other journalist who has met one there (it is important to note that pro-Morsi protesters and pro-Morsi media have often claimed that there are Christians attending their sit-in). At the same time, they also allege that the church was behind the former Mubarak regime-US-Zionist plot to oust Morsi.

The point is that the pro-Morsi crowd is largely homogenous. Their opponents use this homogeneity as evidence that the MB is, at best, an organization that has failed to market itself to non-supporters; and, at worst, a closed group unconcerned with non-members.

While the MB’s opposition might be correct in this assertion, many go one step further. They suggest that Morsi supporters are all members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and all unthinking androids programmed by the Supreme Guide. The popular derogatory term for them is khirfan (sheep). The aim here is to dehumanize and deny agency, much in the same way the Muslim Brotherhood dismiss their opponents as kuffar (infidels) or feloul (Mubarak regime beneficiaries or loyalists).

On July 4, I went to the Nasr City sit-in countering the mass June 30 protests calling for the president's removal. There was a line of tanks about a kilometer from the entrance checking bags and bothering journalists. Behind the tanks, barbed wire had been put in place. Two men stood five meters apart in silence, both carrying pictures of Morsi. A man went past them and began shouting. He was an engineer with a lisp who explained in a desperate tone that he did not take part in the January 25 protests, but that these protests taught him “how to state an opinion and protect it.” He had voted for Morsi in both rounds of the presidential elections, but insisted that he was at the protest not to support an individual, but “an idea.”

“I learned democracy from the elite. So I voted. But I have learned that there is no revolution and no democracy,” he argued.

As he was talking, a man nearby started screaming in the direction of the army while holding up a poster of Morsi. He was so furious that he succeeded in ripping his poster in two, at which point he crumpled into a heap on the ground and wept.

On Saturday, I attended the somber and low-key funeral of Mohamed Sobhy, a father of two who had been shot in the head the day before outside the Republican Guards Officers Club. Eyewitnesses say that Sobhy was killed after he put a Morsi poster on the barbed wire in front of some troops who seemed to have gotten nervous. In total, four men died at that protest.

I saw his body half an hour later, covered in a sheet and surrounded by bewildered protesters. I tried to tweet the picture, but the network was not cooperating and it would not send. So I tweeted that a man had been killed and his body was still here, and that I was trying to send a picture for all those who I knew would say I was lying.

The problem is not that people did not believe me after the first tweet (it is always good to be cautious). The problem is that they were disputing that a man had died even when the photo was uploaded. One man responded: “He doesn’t have Egyptian features.” Others suggested it was an old photo. When a video appeared and it was no longer possible to dispute the fact that a man had been shot outside the Presidential Guards Officers Club in Cairo at the same date and time as the pro-Morsi lot were alleging, attention turned to his injuries.

Sobhy was facing the army when he fell to the ground, and blood gushed out of the back of his head. There was an almost immediate consensus that he had to have been shot from behind. The most popular conclusion was that the MB themselves had killed Sobhy to incriminate the Armed Forces. The outpouring of outrage in response to a suspected military killing of a civilian that usually characterizes such events was completely absent. There was not a single Egyptian news outlet at the victim's funeral other than Mada Masr.

The situation was very different at the funeral for youths from Manial killed in clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and residents of the Cairo neighborhood. Lots of media, lots of sympathy and lots of outrage — all certainly deserved.

An almost identical scene played out on Monday morning, as Egypt woke up to the news that over 40 people had been killed, again outside the Republican Guards Officers Club. State television and private satellite channels such as ONTv restricted their coverage to airing interviews with security forces, and stating conclusively and irrefutably that armed pro-Morsi protesters instigated the attack against the army.

Presenter Amany al-Khayat talked about “terrorists” —the pro-Morsi supporters — hiding out in residential areas. When making reference to the bodies of pro-Morsi demonstrators being kept in the Rabea al-Adaweya Mosque — the location of the pro-Morsi sit-in — her tone was derisory and mocking.

In describing these scenes, I am not seeking sympathy for pro-Morsi supporters. I disagree with them politically. Some of them have themselves been responsible for acts of unimaginable, barbaric violence. Independent journalists have reported that some of them are armed (just as they have reported that their opponents have arms). Their decision to march to Maspero and to Tahrir via Manial was a provocative act of such crass stupidity that anyone with any shame should have disassociated themselves from the protests.

My problem is with the reaction to these protesters. The nominally non-partisan media variously ignores, belittles or demonizes what represents a large section of Egyptian society. There is none of the nuance of the coverage of the anti-Morsi protests. The virulent, xenophobic anti-American sentiment of some protesters is not held to represent the collective. Systematic acts of sexual violence against women in Tahrir Square are not used to discredit the entire cause. When the pro-army tone started to appear after June 30, it was emphasized that not all protesters back the military. The Egyptian media has by and large overlooked any similar inquiry into the motivations of the other side.

This is problematic for three reasons, and all of them concern Egyptian society at large rather than the Morsi brigade.

Firstly, it confirms once again that local media is more interested in telling us what it thinks should happen, rather than what is happening. Secondly, it underestimates the danger posed by an alienated and committed group who believe that they have been robbed. Lastly, it is a cheap way of avoiding a debate about the issue that actually mattered until July 3: Whether an elected president should be removed via mass protests.

There is a visceral hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Salafi associates amongst some Egyptians. This hatred spans all social classes and predates current events. It is born out of an arguably justified mistrust and fear of the group, which has lied, put its own interests first, excluded other groups, ram-rodded through an excuse for a constitution, attempted to give Morsi dictatorial powers, flirted with the military and dallied in sectarian politics in a frightening way. It failed to understand that it was running a country, and it missed the point that for public relations purposes, if you are an Arab president who desires to quash dissent through an organized group, you better make sure that that group is in uniform.

Perhaps most importantly, they were feeble as hell at governing Egypt at a time when amateurs really just would not do.

When Morsi supporters attempt to put their case forward, their arguments bounce back off a wall of hate, but — deep breath — in my opinion, these arguments were not without merit — up until June 30.  Morsi’s intransigence and the behavior of his supporters after June 30 outweighs any legitimacy they once had. Mendacity, poor governance, self-interest and the sidelining of other political powers are pretty much the watchwords of all political groups and are not, in isolation, enough to justify a president’s removal by the military.

The November 22 Constitutional Declaration that granted the former president unprecedented powers was an outrage and perhaps a harbinger of sinister stuff to come, but Morsi rescinded it. He waded through blood after the events that constitutional declaration sparked at the Presidential Palace in December 2012 when the Muslim Brotherhood deployed their men against anti-Morsi protesters.

The MB’s sectarian language, the increase in sectarian incidents, the attack on the St. Mark’s Cathedral in April, Morsi’s failure to react to a sheikh who called Shias “filth,” and the entirely useless response to the Shia lynchings in June were all important indications of an unwillingness to rein-in fringe extremist elements on the Islamist scene. Most significantly, they showed that Morsi was never interested in representing all Egyptians. But again, Morsi inherited a tradition of state discrimination and sectarianism from his predecessor; he just cranked it up several thousand notches.

As for flirting with the military, it is in fashion right now.

So my position on events pre-June 30 has not been changed by events since: The Muslim Brotherhood should have been left to fail as they had not (yet) committed an act justifying Morsi’s removal by the military. The price Egypt has paid and will pay for the consequences of this decision are too high. It has created a generation of Islamists who genuinely believe that democracy does not include them. The post-June 30 fallout reaffirms this belief, especially with Islamist channels and newspapers closed down, as well as leaders detained and held incommunicado, apparently pursuant to an executive decision. For 30 years, Mubarak told them that due process is not for them, and a popular revolution is confirming that. It is Egyptian society that will pay the price of the grievances this causes, and the fact that, with a silenced media and no coverage from independent outlets, they have been left with virtually no channels to get their voice heard.

I will not weigh in on the coup/revolution debate other than to say millions of Egyptians were on the ground demanding Morsi’s removal while military jets drew hearts in the skies above them, and then Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that Morsi had (forcibly) buggered off. Nothing has changed. The real revolution will happen when army involvement in politics is a distant relic of history. 

In any case, the debate is semantic and tedious, and the nomenclature will not be decided now. The only aspect of the wider argument that interests me is the notion that an elected president’s legitimacy dissolves when millions take to the streets. If this is a precedent, then it means shaky times ahead when the masses’ interests do not coincide with those of the army.

Politically, Egypt finds itself once again in an almighty mess. As the euphoria fades, the opposition remembers that if they were asked to debate how many legs a cow before them had, one faction would question whether the animal was actually a cow, another would say four, and yet another would include the tail as a limb. The fun times have just started with the Salafi Nour Party vetoing Mohamed ElBaradei’s nomination as prime minister on the grounds that he is divisive, while Tamarod (the grassroots petition campaign behind the June 30 protests that led to Morsi's downfall) declares it is him, or else.

If the army has any sense, it will see that the legitimacy of the June 30 regime (for want of a better term) need not be predicated on crushing Islamists, no matter what the public appetite is. They have to be included, because they are not going anywhere. The barely functioning political system born of January 25 has been replaced with something even more fragile: Fractious squabbling with no clear means of resolution, the military as arbiter and an incensed MB that feels it has been cheated. Fasten your seatbelts. 

This article is published jointly with Jadaliyya.


The situation was too extreme

The situation was too extreme and the Egyptian people couldn't allow a Morsi rule for any longer, he was taking the country to the brink.

Thank you Ms. Carr. It is

Thank you Ms. Carr. It is refreshing to hear a principled voice of reason. For over a week I have been nauseated by friends and family, millions on the streets of Egypt, dancing and celebrating while others bury fallen civilians.

Sure, Morsi and the MB had taken Egypt to the brink, but the 'events' of July 3 have taken her far beyond the brink, perhaps irreversibly.

Most alarming was the emergence of the term 'khirfan' (sheep) in reference to the MB, its leaders and followers, many months ago. I could smell the stink as soon as that started, and it became unbearable post-June 30.

This demonization you have accurately pointed to was a pre-requisite for where we are now. Have we forgotten the de-humanization of the 'cockroaches' in Rwanda in April 1994?

Morsi had to go because of

Morsi had to go because of the massacre of the protesters, shutting down TV stations in his war on free speech, arresting opposition activists and restricting peaceful protests, closing off the Rafah border into Gaza and bombing the tunnels

Oh...hold on, that wasn't Morsi, that's the new regime....or should i say the old regime... lol but carry on and blame Morsi for everything if it helps you forget the crime you all participated in.

Don't forget changing the

Don't forget changing the constitution without putting it to a vote first! ;)

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In response to Nariman's post

In response to Nariman's post above, just have a read of the article posted above by J Johns a little above your post. Its very insightful and answers many of the accusations thrown at Morsi.

Literally from the day he got into office, the smear campaign began - predominantly by the Mubarak regime and secularists and very little of these claims hold any water. Extraordinarily they openly stated their desire to overthrow Morsi and began their propaganda campaign.

The Mubarak "Deep State" still runs everything - Media, Army, Police, Judiciary and much of the countries economy.
They all refused to cooperate with Morsi as he repeatedly attempted to include everyone in the democratic process, Baradai et all repeatedly rebuffed him and then blamed him for not including them!!

Its a shame because I never thought the great Egyptian nation could be so easily misled into bringing the old regime back into power only a year after its overthrow :(

Anyone who supports the evil

Anyone who supports the evil Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist - as they are. It is the will of decent Egyptian people that Morsi was removed from office. The Army simply acted to support law-abiding people sickened by Morsi and his complete capture by the Muslim Brotherhood. The world welcomes and applauds the good people of Egypt acting to take back their country from this group that would suppress their democratic rights. The Egyptian Army are heroes for rescuing their people from the tyranny of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Even if what you say is true,

Even if what you say is true, the sad fact is that the people against Morsi have behaved liked terrorists - Bombing presedential palace & Brotherhood buildings, firing live weapons on civilian protesters, Not tolerating different points of view to their own....etc etc. No, you are the terrorists

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A very interesting piece

A very interesting piece although I disagree with your assessment when you said: "The Muslim Brotherhood should have been left to fail as they had not (yet) committed an act justifying Morsi’s removal by the military." One: they did what makes them oust-worthy; two, how long to you wait on a discriminative, arrogant, regime.

The belief that a country can

The belief that a country can simply get past a military coup seems very popular among Egyptians. I strongly encourage those people to look around the world and throughout history to find a single example of a military coup that has not led to economic collapse and, eventually, civil war. The future of Egypt looks more like Burma or Syria than France. Enjoy, you've earned it.

Oh honey don't kid yourself..

Oh honey don't kid yourself.. Egypt lived on for 60 years after a coup without civil war :)

If this well written article

If this well written article concerns Egypt on such an intimate level... is it available in Arabic? It seems to be directed to foreign readers ( most of whom probably have a casual or social concious interest in Middle Eastern politics) and liberal Western educated Egyptians...I find certain segments of the Arab worlds reliance on English to discuss their domestic problems peculiar and indicative of a major split in their society. Ive seen this in Jordan as well. Im not criticising you personally in any way and Im not saying you should write in Arabic ...Im just wondering if the millions of Egyptians with internet access get to read great articles like the one youve written.

I think this article ought to

I think this article ought to be translated to Arabic to be available for all to read.. worth the time and effort

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Morsi was elected by popular

Morsi was elected by popular vote, the first in Egyptian history. The army deposed him. This is not a democratic process. Arabs and most Muslims lands are not fertile for democracy, which thrives on education, tolerance, affluence, and freedom. The Egyptian army rebelled against democracy and freedom because they will threaten its massive privileges amassed over the years from American funding and grooming of its elite officers. The result is a blow to people's rights. Supporting the military and its undemocratic approach has exposed the liberals, leftists, and the West to what always been suspected by their opponents as hypocrites, full of hate and vengeance and meanness towards anything Islamic. Examples are alive and kicking in Algeria, Tunis, and Hamas in Palestine, Iran, Hezbollah, and even Malaysia. All people in Egypt will pay the price, no matter which side of the fence they stand on, and for the same reason: sabotaging a nascent democracy and killing it in the crib. No one is innocent!

Dear Sarah

Dear Sarah
Thank you for this well-thought , concerned and very well written article. I am so sorry for the heart wrenching events and the deaths that continue today. I am also sorry that I do disagree with you very respectfully and share the same view as Dina, Omar Hikal, Ahmad, Nariman and Safwat the good solid Egyptians and responded to your article before me, that see things as they are and do not read too much between the lines and that have the same basic logic on democracy, freedom, justice and all the demands of our stolen revolution. However Egypt cannot be the price to pay for extending the plight of the Egyptians with the term of an elected 'failure' just to honor abstract and absolute values.

I am not veiled..... and i

I am not veiled..... and i go to Rabaa el Adawia,,,,,I feel so safe and no one ever harassed me.....people are sooooo peacfull....
I was there during the attack., protestore in Rabaa Al Adawia were praying fajer.... they didnot attack any military the way along with more than 55 young men died and more than 1000 injured.....8 women died and two children were killed one of them is 5 month old....THE EGYPTIAN MEDIA BOTH GOV AND PRIVATE ARE LAIRS.......BIG FAT LIARS....

At the night of the attack peaceful protectors were giving army drinks and food and the military airplanes were drawing hearts in the sky.....

No respec for the blood shed what so ever as if the people who died are not condolences from the government or military.... and no one showed the funeral......... BIG LIARS

Time will show the reveal the real truth.....

I am not pro Rabaa protest.

I am not pro Rabaa protest. But I believe you. This has been happening to protestors for the past two and half years and it is sad that over and over we don't believe the victims side and I am ashamed that people I thought knew very well what crimes the army and police are capable of are siding with them now. Sorry for your pain. I hope one day this will change. That people will stop allowing their anger from a side or another to blind them from the truth. Blood is blood no matter what. It is not excuse.

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I read the article, it has

I read the article, it has nonsense in this timing, the army are moving forward with their plans, the legitimacy of the president has been putted down unfairly, the supporters of morsi are in the second plan, they are the others, the second zone citizens, but it's OK we will give them a little bit of the credit.

The analysis is basically on

The analysis is basically on point and we don't need to to debate minor details. What i would like to point out in the form of a question is as follows; haven't the Arab people learned from world history that religion and politics don't mix? As long as you have religious fanatics proclaiming that god instructs their behavior and only their view is correct because it is from god, then the society will not progress in these times. Islam, like any other religion, must be suppressed as a political force;

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To say: "It has created a

To say: "It has created a generation of Islamists who genuinely believe that democracy does not include them" is to overlook that they were voted into parliament by around 40% and millions, including "lemonsqueezers", mobilized to get a MB candidate into presidency. How much more goodwill are ppl supposed to show? If at that point they still cannot exercise some self-criticism they will never get over their victim image.

Good analysis, but it misses

Good analysis, but it misses the key point that all working democracies are SECULAR not religious.

Freedom of religion should be a personal experience at home and in the mosque, church, synagogue, temple, etc. Not in government. Egypt needs a non-religious democracy to develop solutions to feed its people who are growing at the rate of 1.5 million (children born) each year, living on less than 5% (Egypt is 1 million square km, 95% desert)... growing rate of illiteracy, declining health care, housing, communications, you-name-it.

The "operating manual" of government cannot be the Koran or Bible.... let alone Sharia Law.

Egyptians should also stop blaming the USA for not supporting one side or the other. The problem is inside Egypt and needs Egyptian fixes. How on earth is the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists are going to accept a secular system? Never!

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Well I from the other side

Well I from the other side totally disagree with you! From the beginning of the process it was all wrong. Honestly I do believe that Morsy wasn't democratically elected, we all know that he was in prison acused of spying, so he wasn't supposed to be nominated until he was totally cleared,which didn't happen, he was escaped from prison. But some people just decided to shut their eyes,we also know that there were a lot of violations during the elections the most important is threatening Christians in upper Egypt if they go to the elections they will kill them and burn their houses, and the other violations that we all know about .as we all hear now he was chosen to save the country from the blood shed .Let alone after his rule the economy just collapsed in only one year, people were threatened in the street by his people. So in short he spread hate ,increased poverty and ruined the economy what else do we need as a reason to ouster him??!!! Democracy you say! Well I don't believe that this relates to democracy in any way, this is a terrorist group who thought like in many other countries that once they reach the presidency no one will manage to oust them and they will stay for alooooong time whether we like it or for no one being in the funeral of the Islamist who was killed, I believe that if any of the reporters even wanted to be there, they wouldn't allow him, and he might be severely beaten, because they simply don't believe in other opinions, if you're not with them you are in their eyes totally against them. This was their own doing during the last 3 years,not the people,they spread hate and this is what they will get for a very long time.

thank you

thank you

It is really diasappointing ;

It is really diasappointing ; the Egyptian Democracy has been killed at birth.

Do you know why the majority

Do you know why the majority of Pro-morsi protests are men?
Simply because they are afraid of being attacked or killed by criminals and thugs supporting the COUP.

The Pro-morsi protests keep their wives and children at home because no one will protect them or have mercy or compassion in dealing with them.

a very high percentage of Pro-Morsi protests does not belong to the MB yet they had to defend their freedom and democracy.



I understand your point of

I understand your point of view but on the other hand if the MB had been left to complete their full term in office how many people will have died as a result of their hatred towards Christians, Jews and even Shia Muslims? How would the economy have survived when in a year they have not only failed to improve the economy but have made it considerably worse. You just have to watch some pro Morsi protests and hear them demand the blood of Christians and all infidels alike to recognize that most of these people do not want what is best for Egypt but what is best for the MB. Although ideally having the military intervene may not have been the best move it seems to have been the only option to salvage Egypt and hopefully return Egypt to its former glory.

I like your article. Don't

I like your article. Don't agree on all your points, but it's comforting to hear a human talking of humans. The dehumanization that has been happening was alienating and scary and it is good to feel again that one is not alone.

Nothing justified the

Nothing justified the military coup. I preface my comment with this to preempt misunderstanding of what I say next in response to this thoughtful article.

While I concur with most of what is stated above, I disagree with one crucial point: the impacts of Morsi’s November 22nd declaration and his actions since. I believe these were much more grave than this article posits. On that date, Morsi placed his decrees above judicial review, which gave him absolute powers. Morsi justified this as a move against judges in the Supreme Court from the Mubarak era whom he suspected were plotting to thwart his efforts to reform the country.

From this point onwards, what was then an oppositional situation turned antagonistic and even bloody by Dec 6th. Four consequences: A) Morsi alienated the opposition leaders whom he had just consulted 1-2 weeks before in individual meetings; this, however, does not justify their egotistical behavior afterwards. B) Morsi’s move confirmed suspicions at the time that he puts the MB’s interests ahead of the nation’s interests. In a typical MB move, he decided to confront the judiciary (because it dissolved the MB-dominated parliament earlier that year) while sidelining and pacifying the other two major state institutions: the military and the police which (esp. the latter) the revolutionaries considered the priority for reforms. Effectively, Morsi forfeited the support of the revolutionaries in favor of his Brotherhood and their supporters; the deeper rift starts here (earlier rifts did occur since the March 2011 referendum) .

C) Morsi and the MB’s argument that taking non-democratic steps - as issued in that declaration - was justified to protect the fledgling democracy from conspiracies is difficult to differentiate from other non-democratic steps, such as a military coup! In a way, he set the tone for later moves and framed the culture for political exchange against adversaries. Under intense street pressure, Morsi may have rescinded his Nov 22nd declaration as you state, yet he kept its outcomes (athar), two of which are non-trivial: the Assembly formulating the Constitution and the new Public Prosecutor. Both are very consequential, very problematic and very divisive.)

D) However, the gravest consequence was on his legitimacy as elected president. In any democratic system, Morsi’s declaration of absolute powers (certainly not what I and others voted him into office for) renders him impeachable. For instance, in Article 2 of the US constitution , an official (including a president) who refuses to implement a court order has committed one of several kinds of High Crimes and Misdemeanors. This official is impeachable – but that does not mean they are automatically removed from office. Instead, due process prescribed by the US constitution goes through approvals by Congress then the Senate which ends in impeaching and removing the official / president.

There is vaguely similar procedure for impeachment in the December 2012 Egyptian Constitution – and there is cause for a president who does not respect the basic principles of democratic practice. It is possible for a super-majority in an elected parliament to force the president to early elections after a vote of no-confidence. A military coup is not the only way out. What the opposition should have sought, instead of military intervention on their behalf, were conditions for conducting free and fair elections (change in government, international observers...) by which they advance their case to impeach Morsi, or at least contain him. Polls conducted in May and June 2013 (e.g. Zogby’s ) confirmed the opposition was gaining ground. Whether it was lack of self-confidence, mistrust of the system, non-acknowledgment of the constitution’s legitimacy, or downright foolishness or greed they did not go that way and insisted on deposing the president through street protest plus military intervention. Again, unjustifiable.

But the point is, we’re in an illegitimate situation in response to an illegitimate one to begin with. There is no justification for either side to claim righteous victimhood now or back then. Contradictions (not to say hypocrisy) in principle and practice have been committed by both sides. What is needed now is an acknowledgement of one’s contradictions and a mature process of truth and reconciliation – what we should have started with anyway in 2011. Perhaps the way out is to return Morsi as president in order to be impeached through an alternative process since no lower house exists now.

Apologies for the lengthy comment.

I'm not an Egyptian. But I

I'm not an Egyptian. But I have to say one thing about what's similar between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian Armed Forces. Both of them share the culture which is "Yes Sir" and they have embedded within themselves compliance and obedience psychology.


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