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One year has passed since the Egyptian government violently cracked down on the sit-ins held by supporters of former president Muhammad Morsi in Rabaa al-Adawiyya and al-Nahda Squares in Cairo. What happened last August, particularly in Rabaa, demonstrated how far the new Egyptian regime was willing to go to solidify its rule and that it would not tolerate any dissidence. Equally horrific was the premeditated nature of the crackdown, as policeman shot into the crowd at random and without any fear of retribution.

Rabaa was the largest single-day massacre in the history of modern Egypt, comparable only to when Mohamed Ali Pasha, a former ruler of Egypt, killed between 500-1000 Mamluks in 1811. Now that the one year anniversary has come and gone, it is important to understand what happened.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), 817 civilians and eight policemen were killed during the dispersal. That loss of life is simply unjustifiable, even if a small minority of the protesters were armed. I have argued this point repeatedly, prompting a slew of accusations against me that I am a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. So allow me to offer two reasons why I refuse to justify what took place. First, the Rabaa massacre was a crime, plain and simple. Second, if the Muslim Brotherhood ever returns to power, I want to be among the few who opposed them while they ruled, yet did not support the killing of innocent, pro-Morsi protesters. Only then will I have the moral right to oppose the Muslim Brotherhood once again.

HRW has compared the clearing of Rabaa to what happened in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. I disagree. While it is true that Rabaa and Tiananmen were both state-sanctioned massacres against citizens that resulted in massive loss of lives, the protesters at Rabaa and Tiananmen espoused vastly different values. In Tiananmen they were rallying in support of freedom and democracy, while those at Rabaa had one goal in mind: bringing the Muslim Brotherhood back to power. Tiananmen was against despotism; Rabaa’s protesters did not mind it as long the Muslim Brotherhood was in charge. I once tweeted that had it not been for the sectarian hatred spewed by extremists at Rabaa, and the physical assault of several Egyptian journalists there, I would have used the infamous, four-fingered Rabaa sign as my Twitter handle in solidarity with those who lost their lives. I stand by that. Moreover, the leaders of the Rabaa camp openly endorsed the sit-in at al-Nahda Square, which undermined their legitimacy. Al-Nahda protesters were armed to the teeth and engaged in firefights with locals that resulted in the deaths of civilians. Nearly all the video footage of armed protesters used by the state to justify the Rabaa massacre was shot in al-Nahda.

The Rabaa massacre has had serious ramifications. It rejuvenated the Muslim Brotherhood, which was dealt a massive blow only one month earlier when millions protested against it. Before Rabaa, younger generations of Muslim Brothers were raised on stories of Sayyid Qutb, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was executed in 1966 during the reign of Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser. Now the Muslim Brotherhood has a far more provocative story to rouse support for its cause for years to come.

Also, some young Muslim Brotherhood supporters or adherents of political Islam are likely to resort to terrorism after witnessing how a predominantly peaceful sit-in was dispersed with unprecedented brutality. Embracing militancy would give them a means to carry out their vengeance, and it might also validate the idea that violence will succeed where non-violence has failed. It is the Rabaa massacre, not the popularly backed coup of July 2013, that might attract new members to terror groups in Egypt, if this has not already happened.

What transpired in Rabaa is a dark stain on Egyptian history, even if many Egyptians deny it. Regardless of one’s view of the Muslim Brotherhood, giving the state a license to commit such atrocities means that it can happen again. And nobody knows who the next victim might be.

The Big Pharaoh is an Egyptian blogger, writing on Middle East and Egyptian politics since 2004. He is active on his twitter account @thebigpharaoh and on his blog www.bigpharaoh.org.