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A jihadi in the making - Daily News Egypt

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A jihadi in the making

We used to work together in the same company during the 25 January Revolution, a genius upper-middle class young man in his mid-twenties and I was his manager. We would run into each other in Tahrir Square chanting the same slogans of “bread, freedom and social justice”, and carrying the same banners demanding change. After …

Managing editor Rana Allam
Rana Allam

We used to work together in the same company during the 25 January Revolution, a genius upper-middle class young man in his mid-twenties and I was his manager. We would run into each other in Tahrir Square chanting the same slogans of “bread, freedom and social justice”, and carrying the same banners demanding change.

After the curfews were over and everyone went back to work, we both belonged to those groups who would sometimes head to the square after we were done with work, and on Fridays. We would then meet at the office and have long conversations on the events unfolding in the country. We were also both a bit naïve with regards to the intentions of the armed forces, believing they did actually succumb to the “people’s will”, although he was a tad more sceptical than I was.

The difference between us, and it was quite minor back then, that he came from a family that believed in the Muslim Brotherhood and he was a religious young man, while I believed in a secular civil state. We never had a problem discussing such matters, and just as he was neither a hardliner nor ultra conservative, we agreed on the basis of democracy.

This young man didn’t always follow the Muslim Brotherhood’s instructions when it came to mobilisations. For example, he joined the protests during the famous Mohamed Mahmoud events in 2011 which the Brotherhood back then declined to join, for fear over the upcoming parliamentary elections. That is an important distinction for revolutionary Egyptians, as those who declined to join those events were the politicised hardline Brotherhood followers. He was not. He was considered to be the “good” youth of the Brotherhood, that refused injustices and rejected spilling Egyptian blood no matter whose blood it was.

His father was killed in the Rabaa [Al-Adaweya] sit-in massacre. For a while, the young man and his family struggled to get his father’s body to be buried. The ordeal took its toll on him, and the bitterness started. His younger brother who was a university student did not take all that very well, and started joining in the post-Rabaa massacre protests against the armed forces.

One day, the 19 year-old brother disappeared. For weeks, his family searched for him in every police station and detention facility and morgue. In that tour, they witnessed heartbreaking stories of young men and women being held; they also met other families looking for their sons and daughters. They saw mothers and wives crying over the tortured bodies of their dead loved ones.

Eventually he found his young brother, after weeks of torture at some detention facility. He could tell the torture was brutal by the marks on his brother’s face and body. They were then informed that the student was facing charges of terrorism and that his trial was due in a few days. By then, and because of the extended absence from work along with his psychological status, our friend was out of a job. He did not appear to mind the unemployment much, being too busy with his mother and sister who lost a husband/father and his tortured brother in detention facing terrorism charges.

The trial was postponed over and over, and for months the brother remained imprisoned in cells that are not fit for humans, and guards who enjoy mistreating detainees. All this time, our friend continued to suffer from harassment by the security forces for having a family of Brotherhood followers, on top of the ordeal to obtain permits to visit his young brother which always resulted in him seeing the deterioration of his brother’s physiological and psychological health.

The detained man’s university exams were upcoming and our friend was tasked with the almost impossible job to get him a permit to attend his exams. After much suffering, the permit was obtained and the student was accompanied to his exams with the worst examples of policemen. Harassing him, beating him on the way to the exam, insulting him and his family, and this was witnessed by our friend who was allowed to accompany his brother for a brief period. Neither him nor the brother could utter a word for that might mean he wouldn’t get to take his exam, and might also mean worse mistreatment once he got back to his cell.

The student succeeded in his exam but lost his future, for he was handed 15 years in jail for protesting amongst a bunch of other charges along with over 50 other accused during the same trial, one of the many travesties of justice in Egypt’s courtrooms.

Harassment of our friend and his mother and sister continued and so they fled the country. He remained on Facebook for a while and I could see the change.

My genius sweet colleague has become a bloody, vengeful, bitter man. He has joined the flock of those who rejoice at the murder of police officers, judges and soldiers. He is hailing the Almighty every time a death toll is announced. He is praying for God’s strength to be given to those “martyrs” dying for the cause. He goes on and on about jihad in Islam against those infidel murderers. He also calls for the heads of their supporters, from government officials to idiotic pro-army demonstrators. Right now, I do not think he minds killing his neighbour if he was a mere verbal supporter of the regime.  Thankfully, he is not in the country and has been off Facebook for a while, because it is heartbreaking to read his posts and witness what he has become.

But can you, in clear conscience, blame him? How many times have we been told that violence breeds violence, and that injustice is the mother of terrorism? Dr Amy Zalman, the global terrorism expert, said that all terrorist acts are motivated by two things: 1. Social and political injustice 2. The belief that only violence or its threat will be effective, and usher in change.

Our rulers still deny this fact and continue to breed violence completely oblivious or uncaring of what that leads to. There are almost five million Brotherhood sympathisers in Egypt, given the parliamentary and presidential elections figures. The number might have decreased after the Brotherhood’s rule indeed, but how much? A few hundred thousands are enough to turn this country upside down. We should also count those who are not Brotherhood sympathisers but had their loved ones go through the same suffering. The families and friends of the tortured, murdered, unjustly imprisoned will be bitter enough to hate everyone else, and hatred is the root of evil. Does no one in this regime see that? Calls for dialogue and reconciliation are met with “supporting terrorism” accusations. It is baffling how the call for peace is deemed “terrorism” and the call for blood is viewed as the solution to end violence!

Rana Allam is former Editor-in-Chief of Daily News Egypt and commentator on Egyptian affairs

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  • Faux-News

    “Violence breeds violence” is always one way around. Lets not look at violent/zealot history and ideology of Muslim Brotherhood causing violent state reaction.

    And of course this great tendency to become prone to violence only applies to “political Islam” proponents. Of the million human beings suffering violence & repressions of freedoms of all sorts, only this special category of MB develops this reaction of quickly turning into psychopaths targeting random people at shopping malls and universities and picking on Yazidi children as slaves. All those several hundred thousand Muslims killed during past 20-30 years of Qaeda/MB terror history (and MB political repressions in countries where MB is in power) all over the Muslim world do not react by becoming terrorists…….

    Although agree that violence/injustice breeds violence and that state has to act in justice no matter what the situation, but this subject is stretched into argument & narratives that puts all blame or major factor for development of a terrorist into state violence. If there was one example provided here that proves this case there are hundreds and thousands of other examples where people with absolutely nothing whatsoever subject to violence or any such repressions (or poverty or “lack of freedoms”) have turned into die hard terrorists. The common factor when looking at it at wholesome is a perverted ideology.

  • Ahmed A.El-Sherif

    The article focuses on state violence ; but it totally ignores the almost daily violence of the Brotherhood and its affiliated groups .No state , whether pluralist or authoritarian , could withstand daily attacks on its security personnel, blowing-up of power stations, and creating booby-traps .
    The article mentions Brotherhood supporters as being 5 million before the ouster of Mursi with flimsy evidence in support of this figure , and goes on to mention that the drop in their numbers was just a few thousands after Mursi , without mentioning any evidence in support of that claim.
    The author concludes her article by calling for ” dialogue and reconciliation …” Dialogue and reconciliation , with whom ??!! With a fascist , hierarchical , militaristic organization based on absolute obedience to the Supreme Guide , whose ideology spawned terrorist organizations in the Middle East ??!!

    • Equality and Justice

      Sisi and all his supporters are terrorists, they are no different from ISIS terrorists, they all should be shot on sight, they are cancer for world. any body killing them is doing favor to world.

  • sam enslow

    Two phrases of the 25 January Revolution have been forgotten, first by Moray and then by Sisi: ‘I love Egypt but Egypt doesn’t love me’; ‘I am a dead man. If they shoot me, I get a certificate saying so.’ Also there havebeen recent media reports on increases in suicide rates, especially among the young who have lost Hope.
    Suicide is a sin, but martyrdom has advantages. Unrequited love often leads to hatred (the opposite of love is indifference). An urge develops to destroy that which has rejected an individual. Islamic groups attract, like all cults, by offering acceptance to the group.
    ‘Live hard. Die young.’ is the motto of many street gangs. It is a philosophy of the not included. For get the flag of Islam. If IS were to disappear tomorrow another flag would replace it.
    The elites, the aristocracies always believe they can control a situation by doubling down on their exclusion if the non-elite and by imposing even harsher security measures. They forget or willfully do not see that the most dangerous enemy is one with nothing to lose. A prime example is the Russian Revolution of 1905 when promises if reforms were made. When the elite broke those promises, the result was the Revolution if 1917 when the elite lost everything including their heads. The French and American revolutions followed the same patterns. All was lost in spite of opportunities presented to save the situation. I fear Egypt and the Middle East face their fates.

  • Equality and Justice

    Sisi is real terrorist, he is no different from Baghdadi or ISIS.

  • Ahmed A.El-Sherif

    The Brotherhood ruled for a year . What did it do during that year?
    It replaced media people by its puppets, and sought to dominate all state institutions by filling them with its supporters thus violating the principle of state neutrality, a precondition for democracy. It did likewise with the committee promulgating the constitution. When the Supreme Constitutional Court was about to convene in order to rule on the constitutionality of the formation of that committee , that was SUPPOSED TO represent the whole of society but did not, Brotherhood thugs besieged the Court to prevent it from convening, an unprecedented act of thuggery.
    The same heavy handedness of the security apparatus criticized today was the rule of the day then.
    Furthermore, churches were torched, women were marginalized and their medieval ideology by which they distort Islam predominated . So, the fine arts were declared to be against Islam , there were calls for banning French, physical education and art from schools , and there were calls in parliament to lower marriage age for girls to 9 years. The identity of Egypt as a creator of a civilization that interacted with other civilizations over the centuries was being changed and hence the massive protests from Aswan to Alexandria demanding that Mursi step down.
    So, after that abysmal performance of the Brotherhood, you still think they could champion reform and bring about an inclusive political process ??!! THE BROTHERHOOD IS A GANG OF PARAMILITARY FANATICS FOLLOWING A FOREIGN AGENDA WHOSE IDEOLOGY HAS SPAWNED TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND ELSEWHERE.

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