By Sevgi Akarçeşme
14 August 2013
I cannot help but wonder whether the lives of Muslims matter at all, especially to the Western world, as I watch the footage from Egypt that shows the Egyptian army fire on unarmed civilians on the streets protesting the coup.
If we leave aside concerns for political correctness and only pay attention to the voice of our conscience, the answer will be a definite NO, with exceptions.
How else could you explain the deafening silence of the international organizations, the US, the EU and even the Arab League? The last time I checked the EU had called on “all parties” to refrain from violence as if there is any group resorting to violence besides the military. Indeed, the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been the target of the crackdown from the very beginning, has refrained from violence up until now gives them the upper hand and preserves their legitimacy.
I hope, despite all the brutality of the current administration and the military led by General Absel Fattah al-Sisi, the supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi and those simply protesting against the interruption of democracy can manage to resist peacefully. Had there been retaliation, the consequences for Egypt could have been worse. As the Turkish President Abdullah Gül warned on Wednesday, this is how the civil war in Syria started. Egyptians should do everything to end the violence through peaceful means and restore democracy. The problem is nobody really knows how such a goal will be achieved given the continuing violence and the incredible indifference of the West.
I wonder what the US secretary of state thought when he saw the reports put on his desk about Egypt when he woke up in Washington DC on Wednesday. After all, it was he who said last month that “the military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people” and the military was “restoring democracy.”
Indeed, considering such an encouragement of the military, the US has now blood on its hands along with the other “big actors” of the international community. We have witnessed the West turn a blind eye to the massacres and atrocities in Rwanda, Bosnia and Syria to name a few. Now is it Egypt's turn? If/when the Western values we cherish such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law are overlooked by the West in the first place, what are we going to rely on in international affairs? What is going on in Egypt is not domestic politics, just as the butchering of the Assad regime in Syria cannot be considered a domestic matter anymore. I have never been a naive idealist and am aware of the fact that international politics is conducted by maximization of self-interest, but the world should be able to at least condemn the killings of civilians, even when they are Muslims!
In addition to the frustrating double-standards of the West, what is despicable about military coups is that an army becomes the enemy of its own people. It is agonizing to watch a people being killed by the bullets that they paid for with their tax money!
Although the scenes from Egypt seem surreal to me in the year 2013, Turkey's fate could have been no different had the junta within the military been successful in its coup plots as recent as 2004-06 and even 2007.
Seriously, do the lives of people in the Middle East count?