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To understand how Morsi came about ruling Egypt for one nightmare year, the previous 16 months of SCAF’s rule have to be briefly reviewed
Hussein Tantawy and Sami Enan were the two most prominent figures in SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) the Military body that ruled Egypt from February 11, 2011, when Mubarak handed over the rule to them, up to June 30, 2012 when Morsi was sworn in. The relationship between SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is a long and complicated love-hate relationship. Throughout the year and four months of SCAF’s rule, many a massacre took place where the people blamed the Supreme Council, and the Supreme a Council on its part categorically denied any wrongdoing. This was blatantly unbelievable, because the ones undertaking all the atrocities were in uniform. So a rather sarcastic trend started about a “third party” being the real culprit. Many a joke was made about this third party, and it was only after Morsi took over and the MB started implementing the same tactics that the people realized that these tactics were one and the same being used right throughout. During SCAF’s rule there was a massacre practically every month, but three of them stood out glaringly, for the number of people killed, and the brutality by which they were killed. The first was on October 9, 2011.
During the revolution, Christians, for the first time in recent history, played a prominent role. Traditionally Christians kept a low profile and a very peaceful appeasing demeanor, which resulted in a mainly peaceful coexistence between them and the Muslim majority. In most cases not only was it peaceful, but was one of affection and mutual respect. Until it was to the advantage of whoever was ruling at the time, to distract the people’s attention from what he was doing, by fermenting sectarian friction. Then religious discrimination flared up. But since the beginning of the revolution Christians stood shoulder to shoulder with their Muslim countrymen, all against one Dictator. On that particular day, October 9, 2011, the Christian Youth Movement of Maspero, a newly formed patriotic group, set up a march from Shubra, a predominantly Christian old sector of Cairo, to Maspero, where the national television building is situated. The march was a peaceful one, men, women and children all carrying candles and either a cross or the flag.
Once they reached Maspero, suddenly, uniformed men sprang out from behind the barricade around the TV building, and started shooting. Panic ensued, people started running in all directions when suddenly two army armored vehicles started ploughing into the throng. This carnage resulted in 29 dead and several hundreds injured. Some of the dead were killed by bullets at close range, like a now famous figure, Mena Daniel, others were squashed by the armored vehicles running over them. In the meantime, the official, government run TV had an anchorwoman screaming on screen for the Egyptian people to come help their army that is being massacred by the Christians. A surge of patriotic citizens rushed towards Maspero, and on the way attacked any known Christians in the area, to avenge their army. Once they got to Maspero and saw the carnage, the whole thing turned 180 degrees, and the people started helping the Christians. Some of the most heroic and gallant acts were enacted that night. Groups of men in uniform kept hunting Christians at the neighboring buildings where a few fled for sanctuary.
A group of 17 including a priest in traditional dress, sought sanctuary in the building where the offices of the brother of a friend were. He, a Muslim, took them in and hid them in a locked room. When the marauding uniformed group came looking for any Christians, he said none were there. They asked to see the ID’s of his staff. One of them was a Christian. This young man was pistol whipped and viciously kicked before these uniformed men left. The chivalrous man, Mohammed Gohar, kept the 17 Christians hidden for two days before things settled down and they could individually or in twos sneak back home.
This massacre cemented the already strong ties forged during the revolution, between Christians and Muslims. Bullets did not discriminate. We were all one, facing a brutal, vicious enemy. At the same time it created a strong feeling of antipathy for uniforms.
This question of the uniforms is very important, for after Morsi took over it was slowly revealed how the MB had army and police uniforms duplicated and distributed, either to their local militia, or worse still, with army uniforms, to Hamas personnel. If ever there was a definition of betrayal, that is it. And that is one of the reasons why Morsi is now being arraigned for trial accused of, to begin with, torturing protesters, but more accusations are being prepared as the evidence piles up against him.
Next: interim SCAF Rule – Mohamed Mahmoud