A Jihadi in the Making

Islam Yakan, an Egyptian jihadi, not the character described in this story.
Islam Yakan, an Egyptian jihadi, not the character described in this story.

Powerful testimony from Rana Allam, about her former work colleague and fellow Tahrir demonstrator, in Daily News Egypt.

The difference between us, and it was quite minor back then, that he came from a family that believed in the Muslim Brotherhood and he was a religious young man, while I believed in a secular civil state. We never had a problem discussing such matters, and just as he was neither a hardliner nor ultra conservative, we agreed on the basis of democracy.

But then Rabaa happened.

Eventually he found his young brother, after weeks of torture at some detention facility. He could tell the torture was brutal by the marks on his brother’s face and body. They were then informed that the student was facing charges of terrorism and that his trial was due in a few days. By then, and because of the extended absence from work along with his psychological status, our friend was out of a job. He did not appear to mind the unemployment much, being too busy with his mother and sister who lost a husband/father and his tortured brother in detention facing terrorism charges.

Other troubles followed, and eventually he fled the country with his family. He is not described as in Syria, as I was expecting. But the attitude is similar.

My genius sweet colleague has become a bloody, vengeful, bitter man. He has joined the flock of those who rejoice at the murder of police officers, judges and soldiers. He is hailing the Almighty every time a death toll is announced. He is praying for God’s strength to be given to those “martyrs” dying for the cause. He goes on and on about jihad in Islam against those infidel murderers. He also calls for the heads of their supporters, from government officials to idiotic pro-army demonstrators. Right now, I do not think he minds killing his neighbour if he was a mere verbal supporter of the regime.

Early on after the fall of Morsi, many Islamists and others warned that in keeping the Brotherhood from democratic gains it would push them into violent efforts for power. I recognize the power of the logic, but have argued against it, though with troubled reservation of spirit. It is too akin to blackmail, even as many principles are violated.

But to the extent this account is an accurate description of the post-Morsi environment, the logic is different, and more unassailable. It is not the whole story of extremism, but Allam sums it up, in rhetoric surprising to appear in Egyptian media, even if in English.

Our rulers still deny this fact and continue to breed violence completely oblivious or uncaring of what that leads to. There are almost five million Brotherhood sympathisers in Egypt, given the parliamentary and presidential elections figures. The number might have decreased after the Brotherhood’s rule indeed, but how much? A few hundred thousands are enough to turn this country upside down. We should also count those who are not Brotherhood sympathisers but had their loved ones go through the same suffering. The families and friends of the tortured, murdered, unjustly imprisoned will be bitter enough to hate everyone else, and hatred is the root of evil. Does no one in this regime see that?

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