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October 10, 2015 / 27 Tishri, 5776
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Egypt in Dire Straits

Egypt seems today like a rickety cart that strong, immense horses are pulling in different directions.
Protesters in Tahrir Square

Disappointment encompasses many sectors of the populace: the failure of the president to convene the constitutional committee, causes delays in formulating laws of the political game, and each side sees this as harming the goals of the revolution: the religious expect the constitution to be something that will ensure religious rule over the whole cycle of life, whereas the secular sector expects it to be a defense from religious rule controlling their free lives. Disappointment with the dysfunctional system is expressed in the public arena, and the slogans that appear on signs in the demonstrations of recent days are amazingly similar to the slogans of the demonstrations of two years ago against Mubarak: “Get Out,” “The People Want to Overthrow the Regime.” However, this time there are also new slogans such as: “Down with the Rule of Badi’” (the general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood), “Down , down with the Regime of the Guide,” “Civil Disobedience,” “Cancel the Dictatorial Edicts,” and “We Want a Constitution.”

Another matter that raises the ire of many is the acquittals and light sentences that were given to the officers of the police and army, who were accused of killing demonstrators, and the acquittals that Mubarak and his sons got in some of the things that they were accused of. Every few days, demands are made to stand the symbols of the former regime to trial, even for matters that they have already been acquitted of, and when this demand is accompanied by violence, these people might find themselves again on trial and this time they will be convicted only to quiet down the street. Is this how a justice system is supposed to conduct itself?

The turbulent atmosphere creates violent physical conflicts between groups of demonstrators, and demonstrations where groups with contradictory ideas are represented cause people to come into very violent contact with each other. Demonstrators attempt to break into government offices, police stations, economic institutions, and Western embassies and the police try to tone down the level of violence by using tear gas, clubs, and even live fire. But the police violence increases the violence of the civilian demonstrators and causes more injuries. The public immediately demands an investigation of the police brutality, but this demand, which is never met, increases the rage of the demonstrators against the violent regime, which is deaf to the sensitivities of the public.

The demonstrations are not limited to Tahrir Square in Cairo. Other cities like Alexandria, Asyut, Aswan and Suez have also seen violent demonstrations in recent days, and the army has not yet been brought into play. It sits on the side and allows the many sides to wear each other out. The president tries to calm things down, claiming that the undemocratic steps that he has taken, mainly placing his decisions above judicial review, are temporary steps that will be cancelled when the other institutions, mainly the parliament, begin to function. But Morsi is not convincing anyone, and some of the members of his opposition have brought back the tents to Tahrir Square, as if to tell him: “We are not moving until we overthrow you like we overthrew Mubarak”.

The Conspiracy Theory

The fact that Egyptian society lives in very crowded conditions means that anything anybody says is heard by many people. Rumors and theories spread among the population at lightning speed, and the weirder the theory, the more people believe it. The rumors going around today are that it is the remnants of the Mubarak regime who are causing Egypt’s problems in the Morsi era, and they just want to cause the collapse of the new system so that everyone will long for the days of Mubarak.

The most interesting rumor is that the president of the United States supported the overthrow of Mubarak so that the Muslim Brotherhood would come to rule a state that is impossible to extract from the swamp its problems, and thus Obama would cause the Muslim Brotherhood to go bankrupt politically and lose its image. According to this theory, the whole process of the past year and a half, where the Muslim Brotherhood won the parliament and the presidency, was part of the American plan, and perhaps even a Zionist plan, that is intended to throw the Muslim Brotherhood into a trap, economically and administratively, where they will bleed to death.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.

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