But, legitimate grievances duly noted, the Brotherhood is still not the Nazi party. It may be a foul religious right movement, but it did not abolish democracy or drive the opposition underground. And to rely on the military to remove it is naive in the extreme. The Egyptian army has suppressed dissent since 1952. To add robbery to murder, it has built a military-industrial complex that keeps Egyptians poor by preventing new businesses competing with the elite monopolies it controls.
Ziad El-Alemi, a leader of the Egyptian Social Democrats, believed after the coup that somehow Egyptian progressives could rely on the army to keep the Brotherhood down and at the same time hold supporters of the Mubarak security apparatus to account for their many crimes. So convinced were the social democrats that they could have it all ways, they took seats in the transitional government. I wonder if after last week’s display of brute force, they still believe they or anyone else can check the military.
However hard it is to say, European Union governments and the US have to live by their principles and call a coup a coup. Aid and normal diplomatic relations must depend on the release of political prisoners, the restoration of civil liberties and a return to democracy – even if that means a return of Morsi to power until the next election. Western liberals ought to stir themselves as well. I have written before of their failure to listen to liberals in the Arab world – or even acknowledge their existence. But the traffic should go both ways.