Commentary: Islamist Suppression Could Reach U.S. Shores

Photo courtesy Matthew Elmaraghi via Neon Tommy's Flickr stream
Aftermath from violence in Mabaa, Cairo, Egypt on Aug. 14, 2013. Photo courtesy Matthew Elmaraghi via Neon Tommy's Flickr stream

Egypt now teeters on the edge of an abyss. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was in Cairo earlier this month at President Obama’s request to mediate between the military-backed interim government and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, told CBS News: “Oh my God, I didn’t know it was this bad. These folks are just days or weeks away from all-out bloodshed.”

The widely anticipated military crackdown against pro-Morsi demonstrators began last week, so we’d better brace for the blow-back.

The rising specter of repression in Egypt is difficult to watch for two reasons. First, it confirms that the counterrevolution is successfully restoring the deep state — the vast security apparatus upon which military autocracy in Egypt has been based since Gamal Abdel Nasser’s rule in the 1950s, effectively extinguishing any hope of transition to democracy. Second, the violent crackdown evokes bad memories of earlier efforts by Egypt’s military strongmen to crush their Islamist opposition.

Resisting the Coup

Honduras, a tiny country whose internal political affairs would have been previously considered insignificant, has garnered an enormous amount of international attention since the ouster of President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya. On June 28, Honduran military troops forced the democratically elected leader onto a plane at gunpoint, flew him out of the country, and installed Roberto Micheletti, who was then head of the legislature, as the de facto executive.

The situation in Honduras remains extremely tense since the coup. The coup regime has shuttered two opposition media outlets, Radio Globo and Canal 36, and there has been a steady erosion of civil liberties. Human rights groups have attributed at least 10 deaths to coup crackdowns on civil society and to increased persecution since Zelaya sought refuge in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa on Sept. 21.

While Zelaya may have been a controversial figure, and the de facto regime has tried to argue that it is operating constitutionally and within the law, governments worldwide quickly and unanimously condemned the military’s violent expatriation of the democratically elected president. The dangerous precedent this sets for the rest of the Latin America countries, many with their own unpopular governments, has placed an enormous weight on the international community to respond.

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Sojourners Magazine December 2009
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