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Friday, 16 August 2013 00:00

The roots of Egypt's crisis

understandable horror at the scale of the bloodshed in Cairo should not blind us to the reality of Muslim Brotherhood responsibility for creating the current crisis.

The organisation's Peace and Justice Party, headed by Mohammed Morsi, was elected to office following the January 25 2011 revolution that overthrew the pro-US Mubarak dictatorship.

But, after Morsi's appointment as president, his government turned its back on the democratic goals of the revolution, seeking to hijack it for its own ends.

The brotherhood's imposition of a constitution that negated the revolutionary demands for economic, social and cultural rights, political freedom and secularism made Morsi's removal inevitable.

He and his supporters have constantly stressed the "legitimacy" of his government on the basis of their election victory, but the scale of popular protests against them proves the depth of public anger over their attempted hijack of the people's revolution.

Morsi's removal on July 3 in response to the tens of millions of Egyptians who took to the streets on June 30 demanding an end to his government was effectively a second revolution.

The mass Tamarod (Rebel) mobilisation was preceded by the collection of 22 million signatures to a petition for him to go.

It wasn't simply the Muslim Brotherhood's determination to introduce a constitution reflecting its own interpretation of sharia law that aroused mass revolutionary action.

The organisation's religious sectarianism had led to murderous attacks on the country's Christian and Shi'ite minorities and enforced observance through Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice groups.

It also allied itself with imperialism by encouraging the supply of armed groups to Syria to secure the overthrow of the Assad regime.

No wonder US Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the conduct of the Egyptian army as a "serious blow" to political reconciliation.

Let it be clear, the Muslim Brotherhood has not been seeking political reconciliation.

It is intent on a monopoly of power, within which religious minorities, left-wing and secular parties, trade unions and any force that does not subscribe to its world view have no place.

No matter what compromise proposals were put to the Muslim Brotherhood, it would contemplate none other than Morsi's return to power as before, constituting a reversal of the June 30 second revolution.

The organisation's encampments in Rabea and Nahda, which carried out attacks and intimidation against local residents, were intended to make the capital and thereby the country ungovernable.

Washington's criticism of the military response to Muslim Brotherhood intransigence is in marked contrast to its tolerance, or even encouragement, of Israel's bloodletting in Gaza and Lebanon, Mubarak's efforts to drown the Egyptian resistance in blood or Bahrain's repression of democracy campaigns.

Clearly some people's blood is judged more valuable than others'.

However, imperialist hypocrisy is not the main issue in Egypt. More important is where the country goes next and how its people defend their revolutionary legacy.

The Muslim Brotherhood can be expected to exploit the memory of its dead and to step up violent opposition, as witnessed by arson attacks on government buildings. But there will be nothing gained for the people through a war of attrition. Mass mobilisation must replace military action.

The religious extremists can be outflanked and defeated by a political response of enacting the revolution's demands, including price controls, minimum and maximum wages, job creation and debt relief for farmers.

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