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By Barry Rubin

Asmaa Mahfouz, the April 6 Youth Movement leader who said she began the Egyptian revolution with a tweet, has been arrested, charged with inciting violence against the military and insulting the armed forces, and will be tried by a military court. This is, of course, the kind of irony that makes a great article.

Personally, I still believe that the military will be glad when it hands back power to civilians and can return to its real business: making money for the officers.

But what did Mahfouz says that got her arrested? Here it is:

“If the judiciary doesn’t give us our rights, nobody should be surprised if militant groups appear and conduct a series of assassinations because there is no law and there is no judiciary,”

Now, while free speech is a great thing, I’m not surprised that the armed forces were unhappy. That would qualify in Norway as incitement to terrorism. And since the military is running things, the implication is that it would be proper for “militant groups” to assassinate military officers.

What kind of militant groups might that be? Radical environmentalists? No, obviously Islamists. Of course, Mahfouz could say with some real justification that she isn’t advocating terrorism but warning that things better change or there will be terrorism.
No matter what the military does, however, there will be terrorism. Already, one might say it is happening to Coptic Christians. Even CNN found a terrorist group already operating and attacking police stations. The idea that the proper policy will ensure social peace is rather difficult in a country like Egypt where one-third of the voters who pick a serious party to support back the Muslim Brotherhood while another one-eighth support far left-wing Marxist-nationalist parties.

If an iconic “moderate” and “democracy advocate” like Mahfouz–indeed the virtual mother of the “democratic revolution–can be so quick to advocate bloodshed that tells you something, doesn’t it?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and Middle East editor and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is His articles published originally in places other than PajamasMedia can be found at     

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