Supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans during a demonstration inside Ain Shams University in Cairo Egypt, Monday, March 24, 2014. A court in Egypt on Monday sentenced to death 529 supporters of Morsi on charges of murdering a policeman and attacking police, convicting them after only two sessions in one of the largest mass trials in the country in decades. When that ridiculous phrase ‘the Arab Spring’ began to be bandied about the chattering classes, with the same studiedly casual expertise that has seen every conversation for the last two weeks confidently littered with talk of transponders and black boxes and pings, as if we are all aviation experts, the expectation was that despotism had had its day.Barack Obama, in particular, looked as if he was living his very own episode of The West Wing, where he got to tell the Arab world to get dressed because democracy was coming to town. Ah yes, it was all very exciting and the sight of all those people rallying in Tahrir Square was the most stirring vision of a popular uprising since we watched Kate Adie defeat the Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square.
There was only one problem – it was always doomed to be a disaster for the region. In the rush to decide that Mohammed Morsi was bad for Egyptians, he was ousted; then, in the shifting sands of geo-realpolitik, Bashar al-Assad was declared to be the worst tyrant since Darth Vader, leading an evil Empire against the brave rebels of the FSA.
The Arab Spring even impacted on this country last summer, when entreaties were made to our very own unhappy Gilmore to intervene in the case of some Egyptian protesters who found themselves caught up in the chaos, as if it was our job to go bailing out every foreign person with an Irish passport who doesn’t like it when their adventure back home gets that little bit too real.
As you’re undoubtedly aware, yesterday saw a total of 529 pro-Morsi supporters sentenced to death by the Egyptian courts in a trial that lasted less than an hour – a rather enthusiastic display of democracy, Egypt style. Maybe the disquiet so many people feel at this decision is simply a case of cultural confusion. In fact, if you think the idea of stringing up more than 500 people is a bit of a rum do, maybe you should stop projecting your Western squeamishness on to the approved government.
So, as we – well, I say ‘we’, I mean the Western Governments – look on at the fun and games from Egypt to Syria and with various flashpoints brewing in between, we can at least be thankful that our political overlords have finally come to their senses. After all, anybody who gives arms to the kind of people who like to eat their victims’ internal organs and engage in a spot of light crucifixion against their enemies – as seen this week on this paper’s website – must surely be regretting these bad choices and endeavouring to never repeat the same mistakes again, right?