Saturday, August 17, 2013

Propaganda Trap: Egyptian Elite Succumb to the Hate Virus

    Saturday, August 17, 2013   No comments

Just weeks ago, they decried police violence and the heavy-handed state apparatus. Now, after over 600 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were killed on Wednesday, the Egyptian elite is silent. Those who dare to voice empathy are given a hostile reception.

Egyptian Amir Salim has the classic profile of a revolutionary. As a politically engaged young lawyer, he specialized in human rights cases, a focus which earned him nine trips to jail under Hosni Mubarak. When the revolt against the aging despot gained traction in 2011, Salim quickly became one of its spokesmen. After Mubarak's fall, he founded an organization which promulgated the creation of a civilian state free from military meddling. In a book published in 2012, he dissected the structures of Mubarak's police state.

Now, the same police that Salim attacked so vehemently in his book, has responded to demonstrations in Cairo with shocking brutality. At least 623 people, the vast majority of them civilians, were killed in street battles earlier this week.
And what is Salim doing? Sitting in a popular café in the Cairo city center, he says things like this: "The Muslim Brothers are a sickness and the police have to eradicate them." And: "The police and the army were only defending themselves." He adds that "the problem will only have been solved when the last Muslim Brother who causes problems is locked away in prison." When asked about the obvious human rights violations perpetrated on the dead and wounded, he said: "And what about the rights of those who live near the protest camps? What about their right to be able to enjoy their apartment?"

Welcome to Egypt under General Abd al-Fattah al-Sissi. The country is so polarized that people are no longer able to feel any empathy whatsoever for others. It is a country in which the smartest and most critically thinking intellectuals are now spewing little more than propaganda, with people on both sides of the deep political divide displaying a penchant for simplification, vilification and agitation. Those who ask critical questions run the risk of being physically attacked, an experience that many foreign journalists have encountered in recent days

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