The following editorial appeared recently in the Los Angeles Times:
After more than 50 supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi were gunned down by security forces in Cairo on Monday, an official of the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing warned that "to this chaos there is no exit unless Mohamed Morsi returns to office."
That outcome isn't any likelier now than it was last week when the military unjustifiably ousted the democratically elected Morsi, supposedly in deference to popular protests. But the outrage over Monday's violence makes it even more imperative that the military and its civilian allies move toward a restoration of democracy in a way that doesn't create a permanent insurgency.
Adly Mahmoud Mansour, the interim president installed by the military, has ordered an investigation of the shootings of the pro-Morsi protesters near the Republican Guard compound where Morsi was thought to be under house arrest. The protesters say they were attacked as they prayed; military officials claim that the conflict began with an armed assault on their personnel. The investigation needs to be searching and credible.
Whatever the truth, the bloodshed has complicated the attempt to form a broad-based transitional civilian government that would win the acceptance, however grudging, of at least some of Morsi's supporters. The ultraconservative Nour Party protested what it called a massacre by withdrawing from negotiations over the choice of a new prime minister. That was an ominous defection because Nour, whose brand of Islamism puts it to the right of the Brotherhood, had supported the coup, making it easier for the military to rebut charges that its actions were directed at Islam.
It might seem unlikely that the military, having overthrown Morsi, would now reach out to or even tolerate political expression from his supporters. But the stated premise of the coup was that the armed forces were removing an ineffective leader who had lost touch with the people, not excluding his followers forevermore from the political conversation — or targeting them for violence. We hope that will be the case.
Now, as for much of modern Egyptian history, the armed forces have the upper hand. Nor is there any sign that their decision to overthrow an elected president will threaten their financial support from the United States, which sees that aid as an insurance policy on peace between Egypt and Israel. But along with that aid, the United States has offered Egypt a suggestion. After the coup, President Obama said, "I urge all sides to avoid violence and come together to ensure the lasting restoration of Egypt's democracy." If it is serious about calming the convulsions in Egypt, the military will heed that advice.
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