So what happens in the meeting? With millions protesting in the streets, Sisi is actually trying to work things out — to persuade the Brotherhood to agree to a new popular referendum on Morsi’s presidency. Shater’s response? Naturally, it is the Brotherhood’s standard response: extortion. Shater, al-Ahram tells us, warned Sisi “that if Morsi were to leave, terrorists he [Shater] wouldn’t be able to control — some of whom he claimed he didn’t know — would launch attacks across Egypt.”

Gee, nice country you have here. Sure would be a shame if someone, totally out of my control of course, burned it to the ground.

We Western sophisticates don’t get it, but Sisi, an Egyptian Muslim, knows exactly where Shater and the Brothers are coming from: “You mean you either accept this or die,” he replies, adding, “Do you only want to rule us or kill us?”

Yes.

Egypt is a long way from anything resembling a real democracy, a culture rooted in liberty, equality, and a respect for minority rights. But those currently governing Egypt have figured out that you cannot have both a real democracy and the Muslim Brotherhood. Would that those governing the United States could figure that out.