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Middle East journalist Jeffrey Fleishman’s November 27 header in the Los Angeles Times has a poetry in it for the ages: “Morsi may have misjudged Egypt’s tolerance of authoritarianism.”

A moment’s reflection may remind that all regimes labeled autocratic involve by definition the imposition of power, and while there may be elections, the story will also contain some combination of reports of bribery, intimidation, suppression, theft (of whole businesses, not mere wallets), and murder.

Organizations like the “Muslim Brothers” and leaders like President Morsi waste no time in organizing their challengers and rivals for neutralization even though they may not get all they want all at once.

For Morsi specifically, the distance between inauguration and the sacking of Mubarak’s army chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi was one month, mid-June to mid-August, and while overhaul of the military was arguably a first order of business, Morsi would go on to  conduct assaults, essentially, on Egyptian freedom of speech, human rights and rule of law, and, of course, on the courts.

Last week, Al-Monitor reporter Mohamad Jarehi wrote the following in relation to the old Mubarak torture chambers and methods returned to use courtesy of the Muslim Brotherhood:

“The torture process starts once a demonstrator who opposes President Mohammed Morsi is arrested in the clashes or is suspected after the clashes end, and the CSF separate Morsi’s supporters from his opponents. Then, the group members trade off punching, kicking and beating him with a stick on the face and all over his body. They tear off his clothes and take him to the nearest secondary torture chamber, from which CSF personnel, members of the Interior Ministry and the State Security Investigations Services (SSIS) are absent.”

The revelation and publicity may have been developed as a message to intimidate Egyptians who had believed they had a shot at freedom and modernity.

The truth is Egyptians have to find their own way out of the darkness and hell in which despots and thugs keep from them the freedom to inquire and speak broadly and openly about many things, to have recourse to court and security systems that are truly their own and working for them equally, and far more than either of those paths toward freedom and security, to choose for themselves between what is balanced, good, and kind, and what is cruel, dangerous, inhuman, and mad.

About three hours ago, the Associated Press reported that, “Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s center said . . . it will not deploy monitors for Egypt’s constitutional referendum.”

If it stinks too much for “Jimmuh” and his outfit, imagine, but one need not leave judgment with notice of the Carter Center’s disinterest in monitoring a state-defining referendum: today, The Algemeiner reported that since early 2011, more than 100,000 Egyptians have sought asylum in the United States.

Reference Update

I’ve gone loosely chronological with this listing as I track but don’t plug stories on a daily basis.  In a way, reading down the headlines tells the story.  This set starts, close enough, with “Morsi may have misjudged Egypt’s tolerance of authoritarianism” and ends (close enough — I revise as I go) with “Al-Masry Al-Youm Reports on Brotherhood Torture Chambers.”  Think about that.

Richter, Paul.  “n U.N. speech, Egypt’s Morsi rejects broad free speech rights.”  Los Angeles, Times, September 26, 2012.

Fleishman, Jeffrey.  “Morsi may have misjudged Egypt’s tolerance of authoritarianism.”  Los Angeles Times, November 27, 2012.  Note to readers: authoritarianism is never tolerated but always imposed.

Engel, Richard.  “Egyptians fear decades of Muslim Brotherhood rule, warn Morsi is no friend to US.”  News analysis.  NBC News, December 1, 2012 and earlier.

Fleishman, Jeffrey and Reem Abdellatif.  “Egypt court postpones ruling as protesters mass at chambers.”  December 2, 2012.

Fleishman, Jeffrey and Reem Abdellatif.  “Egyptian police fire tear gas during rally against President Morsi.”  Los Angeles Times, December 4, 2012.

Blair, Edmund and Marwa Awad.  “Rivals clash as Mursi’s deputy seeks end to Egypt crisis.”  Reuters, December 5, 2012.

Bloomfield, Douglas M.  “Washington Watch: The death of Egyptian democracy.”  The Jerusalem Post, December 5, 2012.

Reuters.  “Slideshow: Protests in Egypt”.

Fox News.  “Clashes between rival protesters in Cairo kill 3, wound hundreds”.  December 6, 2012.

Jarehi, Mohammad.  “Al-Masry Al-Youm Reports on Brotherhood Torture Chambers.”  December 7, 2012.

Fleishman, Jeffrey and Reem Abdellatif.  “Egypt’s Morsi reverses most of decree that expanded his powers.”  Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2012.

Gabbay, Tiffany.  “Egyptian Reporter Given a Disturbing Look Inside The Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Torture Chambers’.  December 10, 2012.

The Independent.  “Morsi gives Egyptian army right to arrest civilians.”  December 10, 2012.

Friedman, Thomas L.  “Can God Save Egypt?”  The New York Times, December 11, 2012: “What has brought hundreds of thousands of Egyptians back into the streets, many of them first-time protesters, is the fear that autocracy is returning to Egypt under the guise of Islam. The real fight here is about freedom, not religion.

Human Rights Watch.  “Egypt: Investigate Brotherhood’s Abuse of Protesters”.  December 12, 2012.

Michael, Maggie.  “Carter Center won’t monitor Egypt’s vote.”  Associated Press / Connecticut Post, December 13, 2012.

The Algemeiner.  “Amid Egyptian Protests, Coptic Christians Concerned for Their Survival.”  December 13, 2012.

Fahim, Kareem.  “In Cairo Crisis, the Poor Find Dashed Hopes.”  The New York Times, December 13, 2012: “We had high hopes in God, that things would improve,” Fathi Hussein said as he built a desk of dark wood for one of his clients, who are dwindling. “I elected a president to be good for the country. I did not elect him to impose his opinions on me.”

Kirkpatrick, David D.  “Prosecutor Says Morsi Aides Interfered in Inquiry.”  The New York Times, December 13, 2012:

“All 49 captives had been beaten, Mr. Khater wrote, and they said members of the Muslim Brotherhood had tried to coerce them into confessing that they had taken money to commit violence. But prosecutors found no evidence that they had done so.

“Even so, Mr. Morsi declared in a televised speech later that night that prosecutors had obtained confessions.”

Earlier Reference

McElroy and Magdy Samaan.  “Egypt’s new president Mohammad Morsi sacks army chief.”  The Telegraph, August 13, 2012.

Muwafi, Murad.  “Egypt fires spy chief, security leaders in wake of Sinai attack.”  Global Post, August 8, 2012.

Bradley, Matt.  “Egypt’s President Morsi Defies Courts.”  Video report and interview.  Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2012.

Youssef, Nancy A. and Mohannad Sabry.  “Morsi inaugurated in Egypt.”  McClatchy, June 30, 2012.

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