It could have been Syria, but it was Egypt, last week. Black jihadist flags, inset with the white oblong cartouche favoured by Syrian affiliates of al-Qaeda, were being waved above a cheering crowd. An angry speaker addressed the masses.
“We need to form a council of war,” he shouted, sounding hoarse from excitement. “The era of peace has ended. If the army attack us we will attack back. We say to the Egyptian army that the day might yet come when we tell it to leave Sinai.”
The crowd, demanding Mr Morsi’s return, drove off the guards, stormed the palace and raised another black flag on the roof. In all, five policemen and a soldier were killed across Sinai at the weekend. On Saturday afternoon, Mina Aboud Sharween, a priest serving el-Arish’s Coptic Christian community, was shot dead by two gunmen on a motorbike. All this went almost unnoticed in the international media.
Here is what the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, the organisation it set up and controls to run in elections, had to say in the immediate aftermath: “The party calls on the international community and international organisations and bodies, and all the free world, to intervene to stop further massacres and end military rule, so as not to create a new Syria in the Arab world.”
If it does not intend to take up arms against the new order, how could Egypt end up like Syria?
The New Syria. So much better than the old Syria.