I am neither a member of the Muslim Brotherhood nor a covert sympathiser, yet to have my assertions judged without bias necessitates it seems, rather unreasonably, that I must disavow any concurrence with the Brotherhood whilst simultaneously pointing out the shortcomings of Morsi as the president of Egypt. (Similar was the case with the niqab debate in Britain; while many liberals maintained the right of Muslim women to choose how they cover, most felt the overwhelming need to concurrently express how repugnant they found the practice.)
The first problem with such an approach is that even a cursory and dispassionate analysis of the alleged failings would reveal that most are utter fabrications. Take for example the idea that Morsi was an Islamist wanting to impose harsh interpretations of Islamic law. Out of all the decrees made, not one was ostensibly religious. In fact since the fall of Mubarak, the only draconian (and non-religious) practice instituted was el-Sisi’s virginity tests conducted by the military.
Some have claimed that Morsi remained reluctant to relinquish power, yet he offered new parliamentary elections in April of this year which was boycotted by an opposition led by el-Baradei (probably knowing that they would lose). On the eve of the coup he offered the formation of a consensus coalition government to oversee the election but the secular opposition opted for the coup instead.
Had Morsi replaced members of the judiciary with Islamists? Nope. He replaced the head of the Supreme Court with Adly Mansour, a Mubarak appointed judge who lifted a ban that saw Mubarak crony Ahmed Shafik stand against Morsi in the presidential elections, with Mansour ironically now the interim president. Morsi also replaced the chief prosecutor with Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah, vice president of the Court of Cassation. Thus all appointments were avowed secularists. Was the constitution changed to force Egypt into a theocracy? Well interestingly, Article 2 on the role of Islamic law remained unchanged – the 1971 version continued into the 2012 proposal with precisely the same language, much to the satisfaction of Egypt’s opposition. In fact, it was salafi groups that criticised Morsi for not including a more forceful application of Islamic law.
So why the need to declare Morsi’s flaws? Well for one, a blameless period in office for an Islamist leader would make the self-declared liberals absolutely contemptible and highlight that it wasn’t a heightened sense of fear from an repressive Islamist takeover that drove them but that secularism in Egypt is inherently corrupt and murderous. Rather than political Islam failing it would be the abject failure of secular liberalism in the Middle East.
As for the depiction of the brotherhood within Egypt, the persistent oppression of a people has always required, in order to gain validation of sorts, some form of dehumanisation of the oppressed so as to create a barrier between them and those who may come to support them. In the case of the Muslim Brotherhood the Egyptian state media has waged a campaign to do just that. Having apologised to the masses for peddling Mubarak’s propaganda, state-run newspapers such as al-Ahram now express the will of el-Sisi. To recall the mendacities of 2011, ‘A few hours before the ousting of the former president Hosni Mubarak, the Tahrir Square protesters were described in Egypt’s state-run media as “vandals” and “hooligans”. A few hours after Mubarak’s fall, the “vandalisers” had become “heroes”, and what was previously described as “chaos instigated by foreign powers” had suddenly become “a glorious revolution”.’
The aim of the recent Egyptian coverage has been clear: dehumanise pro-Morsi supporters, cheapen their worth, associate them with anything that justifies their killing, criminalise their existence, and ultimately, in a current climate of jingoism, negate their ‘Egyptian-ness’ and frame them as colluders with western powers. Subsequently, many have come to see pro-Morsi supporters as a group of terrorists completely removed from Egyptian society, virtually foreign – invaders of the beloved homeland subjugating the brave and courageous Egyptian people. Even electoral victory seems to be insignificant; it is held that Morsi hijacked the democratic process by having the brotherhood turn out in full force, as if Brotherhood support excludes one from Egyptian society, and therefore the electorate. In a further step of demonisation, anybody who might agree with the Pro-Morsi stance, or remains critical of el-Sisi, is considered a Brotherhood member. In fact, amongst the Egyptian militant secularists (they’re certainly not liberals), ikhwani is a slur used to justify the persecution and murder of anyone deemed religious and supporting democracy as opposed to military dictatorship. Many if not most protesters are not Brotherhood members but unaffiliated civilians opposed to autocratic military rule reminiscent of the Mubarak era. Time and again western reporters meet protesters who have travelled from various regions of Egypt simply out of opposition to the coup, the return of the felool, and the stranglehold of the economic elite who effectively own Egypt. Yet the inability to see this, perhaps even the desire not to, by much of Egyptian society has led Egypt to stand at a crossroad; with pro-regime civilians now joining in the attacks on anti-coup protesters it is only a matter of time until retaliation turns into full-scale conflict.
The portrayal of all anti-coup protesters as belonging to a political group is the regime’s attempt to separate between activists and their legitimate grievances depicting the everyday concerns of Egyptian people, here in the form of anti-coup protesters, as foreign interests. Knowing that many Egyptians are religiously inclined, the regime hasn’t painted the protesters as an extremist religious entity but rather ludicrously as senseless psychopaths committed to destruction. Even the western media, whilst far more balanced than their Arab counterparts, have fallen for the unfair depiction of a liberal opposition on one side, made up of a coalition of former regime members, secularists, Muslims and Christians; and on the other side Islamist protesters – all Muslim Brotherhood supporters. The anti-coup demonstrators have their fair share of factions; from liberals and members of the earlier April 6 revolutionary movement, members and supporters of the Freedom and Justice party, to those religiously inclined and often disagreeing with the Brotherhood yet fearful of the return of persecution they faced under Mubarak.
It is in this context, one where we afford the coup a degree of legitimacy by inaccurately pointing out Morsi’s shortcomings or depicting protesters as Brotherhood sympathisers rather than anti-coup demonstrators, that the scheming of the degenerate regime successfully weakens sincere western efforts to shed light on the appalling events in Egypt.
 for an analysis of the differences, see: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/egypt/2012/12/2012129173710651270.html
Note: This article was produced soon after Eid al-Fitr but the editorial team decided against publishing it immediately out of security concerns for the author.