AN EXCELLENT COMMENT
By Chris Hedges
"When Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran
after 14 years in exile on Feb. 1, 1979, he set out to destroy the secular
opposition forces, including the Communist Party of Iran, which had been
instrumental in bringing down the shah. Khomeini’s declaration of an Islamic
government, supported by referendum, saw him rewrite the constitution, close
opposition newspapers and ban opposition groups including the National
Democratic Front and the Muslim People’s Republican Party. Dissidents who had
spent years inside Iran’s notoriously brutal prison system under the shah were
incarcerated once again by the new regime. Some returned to their cells to be
greeted by their old jailers, who had offered their services to the new regime.
This is what is under way in Egypt. It is the
story of most revolutions. The moderates, who are crucial to winning the support
of the masses and many outside the country, become an impediment to the
consolidation of autocratic power. Liberal democrats, intellectuals, the middle
class, secularists and religious minorities including Coptic Christians were
always seen by President Mohamed Morsi and his Freedom and Justice Party—Egypt’s
de facto political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood—as “useful idiots.” These forces were essential
to building a broad movement to topple the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. They
permitted Western journalists to paint the opposition in their own image. But
now they are a hindrance to single-party rule and are being crushed.....
This revolution, like all revolutions, has called
poor believers into the streets to battle the party’s opponents. The opposition
is branded the enemy of the revolution and, more ominously, the enemy of Islam;
the anti-government protesters, in the words of Morsi, are the stooges of
foreign embassies and Israel. And the poor—the Lumpenproletariat—are only
too happy to lend their services as shock troops in defense of sacred beliefs
and the promised future of glory and bread. They already detested those they are
now being rallied against. Once released by the state from traditional forms of
restraint, the mob willingly becomes vicious.
The last three weeks of street violence presage a
period of blood and repression. The opposition, which at first wanted to boycott
the referendum, is mounting a beleaguered effort to defeat it. The lines are
drawn. Morsi and the Brotherhood have been exposed as the heirs of the old
dictatorship in new garb. The struggle for an open society is being waged by the
betrayed on the streets of Egyptian cities. It will be a fight to the death.
Brotherhood posters put up throughout Egypt in support of the pending
constitution urge people to vote yes to “Supporting Legitimacy and Shariah
[Islamic law].” Those who oppose legitimacy and Islamic law, it goes without
saying, are heretics."