Martyrdom and the Muslim Brotherhood
Videos are making the social media rounds in Egypt that show Muslim Brotherhood supporters shouting, “I am a martyr,” before entering the battles that have been taking place across Egypt’s streets over the past several days.
“The concept of being a martyr is strong with those who radically support the Brotherhood. And it is very dangerous if ever violence erupts in the country,” the late Gamal al-Banna – the brother of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna – once told me at his downtown Cairo office a number of years ago.
Gamal’s words echo strongly today as more and more Brotherhood supporters take to the streets, guns blazoning in response to the military and security forces violent crackdown, which began on Wednesday.
Leaders of the Brotherhood have called on their supporters to defend the legitimacy of their democratically elected leader (Morsi). It is only in the past few days that we have truly understood that this also means the willingness and acceptance of death as a means to that end.
It is extremely disturbing to watch these numerous videos of those claiming to be martyrs. In many ways, we are witnessing a resurgence of the 1990s Islamist mentality that pitted hardened militants against the government in violent confrontation.
The Muslim Brotherhood “martyrs” are waiting for death and expecting it, and the military and police are obliging their desires.
This cycle of violence and religious fervor must end if Egypt is to overcome these turbulent times and avoid even further bloodshed.
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