Many fear that a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt will result in violence — similar to what happened in Algeria during the 1990s.
When Algerians refused to give the radical Islamists — who later won the elections — political power, Algeria endured the bloodshed of 100,000 innocent people, over a 10-year period.
The possibility that Egypt will follow Algeria is highly unlikely due to the following.
1. Unlike Algeria, where the removal of the Islamic leadership was opposed by the Algerian people, the vast majority of Egyptian people remain supportive of Morsi’s removal.
2. Unlike the Algerians, who were looking forward to having Islamists in power for the first time, the Egyptian people had already experienced an Islamically-controlled government and subsequently revolted against it. Trying to persuade people that having the Islamists back in power will bring miraculous solutions simply will not work.
3. In the early 1990s, the Internet in Algeria was virtually unknown. Egyptians use the Internet and social media sites as powerful tools to fight Islamists psychologically and in challenging their violent ideology. This technological advantage will allow Egyptians to defeat the Islamists — as the Algerians ultimately did — but in a much shorter period of time.
4. Algerians in the 1990s — unlike Egyptians now — did not know how much damage Islamists could do to their country, as there were not many examples of Islamist failures at that time. Egyptians have now had the chance to see the impact of radicalism and terrorism in other countries, such as Algeria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. They have the knowledge and understanding to fight the Islamists and prevent them from destroying their country.
5. The mountains and relatively horizontal spread of housing in Algeria gave Islamists greater opportunities to hide from authorities. On the other hand, the vertical spread of housing and the relative lack of mountain areas in Egypt will make it more difficult for the radical Islamists to hide. Although Egypt is heavily populated, the communities are relatively dense in nature, making it difficult for one to hide. The recent capture of many Muslim Brotherhood leaders, within a few days, exemplifies how difficult it is to hide in Egypt.
6. Unlike the Algerian radicals, the Islamists in Egypt are up against the Egyptian media which is considered to be the most powerful and creative media source in the Arab world. Such powerful media can help put an end to the radical ideology of Islamists at a much faster rate than the Algerian media was able to do.
7. Since the assassination of President Sadat in 1981 and the Luxor massacre in 1997, Egyptian intelligence has been fighting Islamic terrorism, with a number of Islamist groups already having been infiltrated. This is dissimilar to Algeria, where the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism was largely unknown. Egyptians are ultimately starting where the Algerian fight ended.
Some Islamists in Egypt will certainly try to commit acts of terrorism, but it is highly unlikely that such acts will be as substantial or malicious as they were in Algeria. Egyptian Islamists know that such acts will result in a powerful crackdown. Islamists do not have many supporters in Egypt and the people will empower the police, intelligence, and military to crack down mercilessly. These Islamic raidcals have simply lost sympathy and support.
Islamists in Egypt realize that the more violence they cause the more they risk losing their ideological battle, a factor that can end any hope of gaining public support.
The miserable failure of the Morsi government combined with the current level of hatred towards Islamists, will make Islamists fearful of resorting to terrorism.
Ordinary people could revolt against Islamists and their families if they choose otherwise. This "fear" of revenge and backlash from the Egyptian public can serve as a strong deterrent for radical Islamists. This "fear," however will also make Islamists more likely to resort to political assassinations since fewer people will be affected.
To conclude, after removing Morsi from power some radical Islamists may try to use violence and terrorism as a tactic, however the magnitude of this phenomenon is likely to be miniscule compared Algeria in the 1990s.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam." Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.
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