Egyptian youth leader backs army in battle with Brotherhood

CAIRO Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:25pm EDT

Mahmoud Badr, a leader of the Tamarud youth movement, speaks during a news conference in Cairo July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Mahmoud Badr, a leader of the Tamarud youth movement, speaks during a news conference in Cairo July 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Mahmoud Badr, whose petition campaign helped to bring down Egypt's Islamist president, insists the bloodshed that has followed is a necessary price for saving the nation from the Muslim Brotherhood.

And he has a message for U.S. President Barack Obama, who has expressed alarm at the violent crackdown on the Brotherhood that has led to more than 700 deaths: "Don't lecture us on how to deal with the Brotherhood's terrorism."

As for aid money, he says, Obama can keep it - and "go to hell".

Badr, like many Egyptians who consider themselves liberals, has little patience with the human rights groups who call the repression a setback for democracy.

"What Egypt is passing through now is the price, a high price, of getting rid of the Brotherhood's fascist group before it takes over everything and ousts us all," Badr, 28, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Badr and his two 20-something co-founders of the "Tamarud-Rebel" movement encouraged millions of Egyptians to take to the streets on June 30 in protests demanding the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi.

Tamarud's protests led the army to remove Mursi on July 3 and nationwide violence erupted this week after security forces cracked down on sit-ins by his supporters demanding his reinstatement.

Government buildings and churches have been torched and attacked in the last couple of days, actions Badr - like the army and its installed interim government - blame on the Brotherhood and their supporters.

Badr, a journalist, believes the pivotal Arab nation could be descending into civil war. But he still thinks ousting Egypt's first freely-elected president was the right decision and defended the military's conduct in the violent aftermath.

"I did not see anything bad from the army. They did not interfere in politics and I am a witness to that," said Badr. "I back its decisions on my own and without any instructions as I think they are right and getting us where we want."

Like army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Badr sees the Brotherhood as a terrorist group that is a threat to Egypt, which straddles the Suez Canal and whose 1979 peace treaty with Israel makes it vital to Middle East stability.

"The Brotherhood protesters are armed and attack people and places and that is why there were victims from the police in the clashes," he said.

POLICE DEATHS

The interior ministry said on Saturday 57 policemen had been killed since Wednesday and 563 others wounded. "No policeman was killed or wounded during our protests," Badr said, referring to the anti-Brotherhood unrest he helped foment earlier this year.

Brotherhood leaders have alleged that former cronies of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, himself ousted in a popular uprising in 2011, funded and encouraged Tamarud along with secret policemen.

Security officials have advised Badr to stay out of sight at a secret location for his safety. He spends most of his time watching Egypt's political upheaval on television.

He appeared on state TV in his trademark polo shirt and blue jeans this week, urging Egyptians to take to the streets and form "popular committees" to protect citizens from the Brotherhood.

At night, soldiers beside armored vehicles man checkpoints with barbed wire barricades. Groups of vigilantes block off roads and direct traffic.

Badr said he was upset by U.S. President Barack Obama's remarks condemning the military attack on the Brotherhood's protests, and his cancellation of a joint military exercise and of the delivery of four U.S.-made F-16 fighters to Egypt.

Washington provides $1.3 billion in military aid and about $250 million in economic aid to Egypt every year.

"I tell you President Obama, why don't you and your small, meaningless aid go to hell?" said Badr, accusing Washington of "unacceptable interference in Egypt's internal affairs."

The activist said his movement had agreed to back a call for a petition demanding the ending of American aid to Egypt.

Earlier this year Tamarud activists scoured towns and villages collecting signatures demanding Mursi's departure. The group said it got 22 million, nine million more than the number of votes Mursi won when elected on June of last year.

"We only respect those who respect us and our will and reject those who don't and that is the motto of the new Egyptian foreign policy," Badr said. "I hope President Obama reads that and knows it."

VICTIMS OF REVOLUTION

Human rights activists fear Egypt's generals will return Egypt to the oppression of the Mubarak era.

Interim vice president Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace prizewinner, resigned in protest at the violent crackdown but other liberals in government have not followed suit.

Badr, who advocated democratic civilian rule when founding his movement in May, accused ElBaradei of undermining the uprising that toppled Mubarak. "His decision made the revolution look shaky and weak," he said. "What happened in Egypt was a revolution and any revolution has to have victims."

Badr says he has had no contact with the military since meeting Sisi on July 3 to discuss plans for a return to democracy - in a room with generals, a senior Muslim cleric, the Coptic Christian pope, a top judge and opposition leaders.

"My role now is to act as a pressure group by observing the political transition and be ready to interfere if things go in the wrong direction," said Badr, who cut his political teeth in the 2011 uprising.

The Brotherhood, which won every election after Mubarak's fall, has called for more protests across the country, raising the possibility of further bloodshed.

For the next few weeks, Badr predicted "more violence and possible political assassinations" but added: "We will win over terrorism and civil war eventually."

(Editing by Michael Georgy and Andrew Roche)

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Comments (12)
Burns0011 wrote:
Egyptians who were paying attention understood that the Brotherhood was deliberately undermining the nascent democratic process in order to eventually install a theocratic republic like Iran.

Some Egyptians thought this was a good thing, that somehow being religious meant that the eventual dictatorship would have the well-being of all citizens in mind. This is a seductive fallacy; being religious has nothing to do with being a good person.

In actual fact, the Muslim Brotherhood was after one thing, and one thing only. Political power in order to impose a dictatorship.

Aug 17, 2013 1:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
alphatango241 wrote:
Tamarud and these so called liberals are the real fascists. The army and their cronies from Tamarud have learned the propaganda methods from the Nazi.
The truth is simple: The Muslim Brothers won the elections, all the election. the so called liberal parties set up quickly by the billionaires Sawiris and others didn’t manage to convince the population that their project was the best.
The truth is that the army and the powerful families have sabotaged the economy as soon as the Muslim Brothers won the elections. The shortages of fuel and electricity, the strikes in factories… All this was organised by the army.
These fascists of Tamarud have helped a military coup and collaborated for the removal of the democratically elected president. They deserve only to be prosecuted for their crimes.

Aug 17, 2013 2:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
@Burns0011 who wrote:

“Egyptians who were paying attention understood that the Brotherhood was deliberately undermining the nascent democratic process in order to eventually install a theocratic republic like Iran”.

Burns0011 is 100 % absolutely correct in his pointed description of what is taking place in Egypt.

The many groups, world wide, including numerous so-called “Human Rights” groups, as well as so-called “World Leaders” and other talking heads who love to chatter away as if they were the world’s self appointed oracles of wisdom, all share one key malady in common.

They can only see the world and situations in the world, in the most simplistic, Black and White, terms. Any ability to see complex nuances in fast changing and often violent and confusing events is beyond their reach of human understanding.

It is a breath of fresh air that the relatively quite young, and extremely perceptive, Mahmoud Badr, “the activist whose petition campaign helped to bring down Egypt’s Islamist president”, sees the situation in Egypt far more clearly than so many of the “talking heads” around the world who were so fast to condemn the Army’s actions as “deplorable”, to quote a word used by one of the most outspoken and famous “talking heads” of them all.

Interestingly, many nations, never hesitate to employ mega degrees of violence, (Vietnam, Iraq, et al), when they don’t like the direction political events are taking in other nations around the world.

But when someone else, in this case, the Egyptian Army, is literally compelled to take lethal action to prevent a far worse situation from unfolding in the near future, then all the “talking heads” can’t open their laptops fast enough to rein condemnation down on the heads of others.

The Muslim Brotherhood was clearly taking Egypt in a direction that millions of Egyptians did not want it to go.

It is not even relevant if the Muslim Brotherhood represented the majority or the minority of all Egyptians.

If the majority of all Americans suddenly wanted to bring back the age of “Slavery”, and make slavery legal, would that mean, the minority of Americans opposing turning back the clock, must accept such a barbaric decision because it was the majority opinion.

Certain aspects of what is acceptable or not acceptable via a “Democratic” process also require employing a healthy dose of plain old common sense.

The Muslim Brotherhood was and still is, clearly intent on transforming the most populous Arab nation, amounting to 85,000,000 people into a State ruled by the concepts of Sharia Law including all the backward, fanatical rules and barbaric human punishments Sharia Law entails.

It is most telling that the young people of Egypt understand far better than most outsiders, that Egypt was in danger of being dragged back into the Middle Ages, or better said the darkest of Dark Ages if the Muslim Brotherhood was not removed from power at the earliest possible opportunity.

During WW II, at a certain point in time, some of the highest ranking Nazi Officers of the Third Reich, began to see the handwriting on the wall, that Hitler’s policies were clearly going to bring total destruction down upon the heads of the German people.

They attempted a desperate “coup” that failed and over one thousand German Officers were arrested, tortured and summarily executed. And Hitler proceeded to drag Germany down into the very deepest bowels of Hell.

Had the “coup” succeeded, those German Army Officers would have gone down in the annals of history as true Heroes.

The Egyptian Army, while so derided and condemned by the “talking heads” has clearly stepped forward at a critical moment in Egypt’s history to prevent the nation from being dragged back into the Dark Ages, something a country with 85,000,000 people, and thousands of serious problems, both economic and social, could not afford to see happen.

“For the next few weeks, Badr predicted “more violence and possible political assassinations” but added: “We will win over terrorism and civil war eventually.”

Let us hope, for the sake of the most populous Arab nation, this young man is correct.

But it will not be with any thanks to all the world’s countless mealy-mouthed, hypocritical, double talking, opportunistic politicians, who could not on their own, even escape from a simple paper bag, if their lives depended upon it.

Aug 17, 2013 3:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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