In the past five years, the words “civil war” have never been closer to the tip of people’s tongues. There’s something deeply wrong here, and it isn’t just the scenes of urban battles and morgues—an unfortunately frequent sight in the Middle East. Today in Egypt, the sheer hatred and vilification of the other side has created two parallel worlds of victims.
Well-known liberal activists defend the slaughter of Brotherhood supporters, while groups of Islamists burn churches across the country in retribution for a coup engineered by the higher echelons of the military. Attacks on the foreign press, who are thought to be in cahoots with the Brotherhood, are rising. Groups of armed citizens have formed neighborhood patrols to defend their streets, picking fights with anyone they don’t take a liking to. The divide, fanned by state and private media, seems impossible to breech, while compassion from either side has long since faded—both sides claiming if you’re not with us, you’re against us.
“This is a time of insanity,” says Nadine Wahab, a human rights activist. “I’ve almost stopped engaging the political discourse, because every time I do, I get slammed down by someone. … If I mention the violence by the protesters, the Muslim Brotherhood, I’m told I’m supporting an authoritarian regime. If I mention violence by the state, I’m told I’m supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and their violence. So from this perspective it’s a lose-lose for me, but I do see it as a win-win because at some point one of them has to stop, there has to be this point where it’s too much and I’m hoping this happens before we turn into Syria.”
There was a segment of the population that always despised the Muslim Brotherhood. But the numbers demonizing the Brotherhood have quickly mushroomed, especially since the military ousted Morsi a month ago.