You don’t have to be a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood’s clerical fashion to recoil at the draconian treatment of its members yesterday. Indeed, some reports now suggest that more than 500 people were killed with thousands more injured.
By conspiring against it the army has inadvertently handed the Muslim Brotherhood a remarkable victory. Before he was forced from office, Mohammed Muris’s administration was failing in almost every respect. That is why ordinary Egyptians railed against it with the slogan ‘bread not beards.’
Even when those protests intensified there was value in letting Mursi’s administration run a little longer, if only to illuminate the full extent of its shortcomings. Then, as now, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) made a terrible miscalculation.
Egypt is home to some of the world’s oldest and most dangerous Islamist groups. Many of them counselled the Brotherhood against democracy, describing it as an aberration that would never deliver the Caliphate which they seek.
When Mursi was overthrown they felt vindicated in their analysis. Now that hundreds of his supporters have been gunned down, they feel more confident that their method of violent confrontation is the only option left open to them.
Had the Muslim Brotherhood been given time to fail the shortcomings of its political agenda would have been laid bare. Instead, it now has an alibi: we never had a chance.