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Egypt's Moral Test

The challenges of the second transition in Egypt will not be overcome by sheer force or security measures alone, but through prudence, restraint, a spirit of reconciliation and high moral standards.
A supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi reads the Koran at the Rabaa Adawiya square where Mursi's supporters are camping in Cairo July 9, 2013. Egypt's interim head of state has set a speedy timetable for elections to drag the Arab world's biggest country from crisis, after the military ouster of Mursi last week sparked a wave of bloody protests. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX11HD4

At least 51 died and hundreds were injured when clashes erupted between the ousted president’s supporters and police and military forces near the Republican Guard Officers Club in Cairo, where Mohammed Morsi had been once held. The Muslim Brotherhood claims that the army opened fire at peaceful protesters while the army spokesman insisted that protesters attacked first, using guns and other weapons. This incident is likely to be repeated as the Muslim Brothers, jihadists and other Islamist militants vow to reinstate Morsi even if it costs them their lives. Mohamed el-Beltagy, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, said that terrorist attacks against army and police forces in Sinai will stop as soon as the “coup” is reversed. The grand imam of Al-Azhar, who was among national leaders present during Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's statement announcing the removal of Morsi, expressed great concern over the bloodshed and threatened to go into solitary seclusion if violence does not stop.

But the Muslim Brotherhood leaders seem willing to sacrifice more of their supporters’ blood to attract attention, gain internal and international sympathy and possibly improve their bargaining position. Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei appeared all of a sudden on the stage of the Rabaa El Adawya sit-in on July 5, 2013, one day after official reports of his arrest, urging protesters to sacrifice their souls for Morsi. As the Brotherhood and its supporters resorted to incitement and violence and are now seen to be linked to the attacks in Sinai, many Egyptians will initially tolerate, even demand, that the police and the army use harsh measures in dealing with Islamist protesters.

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