CAIRO — Farag, a midlevel Muslim Brotherhood member, swears he'll do whatever it takes to bring his freedom back. He braved bullets and tear gas in the raging streets of Egypt's capital on Aug. 14, after all, as security forces annihilated Cairo's Islamist sit-ins, resulting in at least 638 deaths. But he has no illusions about how this will end.
"Did you see the movie Schindler's List? Yesterday was exactly the same," he said by phone as he drove his car through a deserted Cairo on the night of Thursday, Aug. 15, taking delight in his subtle defiance of the military curfew in the capital. He had been caught in the center of the pro-Morsy protest outside the Rabaa al-Adaweya mosque when the crackdown began, as bullets whistled by him, inches from his head, and people dropped around him. "It was a new holocaust -- they were burning corpses in the street."
Even several weeks before bloodshed became Egypt's daily reality, Farag had already imagined the killings and screaming men and women. He knew the Brotherhood was ready to march defiantly against the security forces -- and that the police and Egyptian Army would be only too happy to greet the protesters with bullets.
Farag knew something else too. He confessed that the Brotherhood's star was waning and radical Islamists were on the rise. "The security thinks if they kill one person, three people will be afraid. But what happens is they create 10 more who are ready to die and others who want to take revenge," he said and then paused. "When we become armed, it will be a civil war."
Farag said that the option of turning to violence "is not a choice for the Brotherhood. It is not up for discussion even behind closed doors." He worried, however, about individuals outside the Islamist movement's chain of command -- the brother or father who turned to terrorism after his son was killed. Once the Islamist community picked up weapons, he said, it would be too late to save Egypt.
Friday's events are validating Farag's worst fears. The Brotherhood-led coalition against the new government called for protests it dubbed a "Day of Anger," triggering clashes between the security forces and protesters. The violence, which claimed the lives of at least 80 people, looks likely to fuel the confrontation between Islamists and the police and Army. The Muslim Brotherhood already called for a week of daily protests, which it vowed to continue "until the coup ends."