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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

Another claim frequently heard is that every time a demonstration becomes an instance of mass violence, “our” side demonstrated peacefully, “silmiya” , but the other side, who oppose us, infiltrated into the demonstration and created provocations against the police and public institutions, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, in order to get the police to beat us and then the media would make us out to be violent and uncultured. This claim is heard from all sides.

But the newest conspiracy theory came lately from the study houses of the Salafi imams. They claim that the source of Egypt’s troubles is the remnants of the Pharaonic, heretical culture, which remains within the public arena in the Land of Islam, chiefly the Sphinx and the pyramids. He who dwells on high sees those statues and monuments as symbols of idol worship, and thinks that whoever would leave them standing on the soil of Egypt is perpetuating the Pharaonic heresy. Allah is furious at Egypt because of this, and causes Egypt to suffer political, public and economic plagues. The necessary conclusion to be drawn from this theory is that Egypt must expunge all remnants of the Pharaonic culture, including those in museums, because only then will the wrath of the Almighty be assuaged and Egypt will be cured of its ills. We saw a similar approach during the nineties in Afghanistan, which suffered from a long drought, and to quiet the rage of the Creator of the world, the Taliban smashed the two enormous, ancient statues of Buddha that were carved into the mountain in the area of Bamiyan, despite worldwide protests. One may assume that this fanatical attitude of the Taliban regarding cultures that preceded Islam was part of the justification of the war that the world began against them towards the end of 2001, following the attacks of September 11 in the United States. What would happen in Egypt if the Sphinx and the pyramids were destroyed, as some Salafis demand?

Egypt seems today like a rickety cart that strong, immense horses are pulling in different directions: the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, the seculars, remnants of the Mubarak regime, the military, the police, the General Intelligence Service, the president and the “street”,  and these are in addition to the American, European and international forces, chiefly the International Bank. Will the cart survive the pressures and remain whole or perhaps it will shatter into little pieces, and every area in Egypt will solve its problems by itself. Will the Egyptian cart emerge whole from its straits? Time will tell. Is this an “Arab Spring”? That is not clear at all.

Originally published at Middle East and Terrorism.

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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