OP-EDs on Egypt by Dr. Abou El Fadl: "Egypt in the Twilight Zone," Huffington Post, 9.2.2013

There are some very bizarre conspiracy theories circulating in the Egyptian media these days. If you watch any of the government-owned news channels, or even most of the privately owned ones, you will find displayed prominently on the screen: "Egypt is at War with Terrorism!" This is a summation and justification for all of the human rights abuses taking place in Egypt. However, this war on terrorism is rather unique because according to the Egyptian media, the terrorists in this war are supported by the United States and Israel. The anti-American rant seen all over the Egyptian media has even compelled the U.S. ambassador to Cairo to send a strongly worded letter to the Ahram newspaper, suggesting the Egyptian army may be directly responsible for the irresponsible anti-American fabrications that have been flooding even the Egyptian state-owned papers.

Anyone following the Egyptian media since President Morsi's overthrow would get a very quick education in how to invent the twilight zone, and then live in it. Just this past week, according to the Egyptian media, General Sisi defeated a major colonial plot in the Middle East that was going to be more far-reaching and destructive than the Sykes-Picot agreement. Furthermore, President Obama's half-brother Malik is supposedly a member of Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, and Malik apparently mediated an agreement between Obama and the Brotherhood. Moreover, the American ambassador in Cairo allegedly coordinated the rise of the Brotherhood to power and then tried to prevent his overthrow by threatening and warning Sisi not to touch or harm the Brotherhood. Ehud Barak of Israel was ostensibly persuaded by Obama to enter into an alliance with the Brotherhood, and Israel is apparently the most ardent supporter of the Brotherhood in Egypt. The Brotherhood purportedly works with Obama, Israel, Qatar, and Al-Qaeda to colonize and dominate Egypt, but the gallant Egyptian army alone is resisting the plot. At one point, the Egyptian news channels were even reporting that after discovering Obama's ties to the Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda, the American people were seemingly flooding the streets of the U.S., demanding that Obama resign immediately and hold early elections. I guess the American people are following the Egyptian example.

Even more surreal, Egyptian television channels, private and public, have been showing clips from Fox Channel commentators stating that the Egyptian army saved democracy in Egypt when it overthrew the fascist Muslim Brotherhood. I must say I never thought I would live to see the day that well-established hawkish, neo-cons with bigoted Islamophobic beliefs would be broadcasted on Egyptian media for their allegedly insightful wisdoms.

This ugly and hate-filled polarizing rhetoric has been used in the most despotic periods of Egyptian politics. The purpose of this ugliness is to aggrandize and idolize the role of the Egyptian military at the expense of civil society, human rights, and everything else. All Egyptian intellectuals with competing narratives have been silenced, the political prisons are holding populations larger than they ever held during the Mubarak regime, and the security forces and army are torturing and killing without any refrain. It is only the scale of the atrocities committed by the army and security forces that make this fanatic, paranoid, and belligerent rhetoric necessary. In today's Egyptian politics, the size of the lies is directly proportional to the staggering number of human rights abuses being committed.

The tragedy is that Egypt has returned to the politics of the worst authoritarian periods in the Arab world. Unfortunately, the army learned nothing from the 1950s and '60s when a very similar paranoid rhetoric was used to cover up very similar human rights atrocities. In the '50s and '60s, the irresponsible rhetoric resulted in two wars that devastated the Egyptian army. Now according to the military's rhetoric, the heroic army is standing up against an alliance of evil consisting of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, Political Islam, Israel, Qatar, Turkey, Iran, and the U.S., especially Obama and his Al-Qaeda/Muslim Brotherhood half-brother. Will the valiant military emerge victorious?

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