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Friday, 7 December 2012

Egypt tipping back into rebellion?

The news at present is full of the unrest in Egypt, with supporters and opposition to the President now quite openly engaged in fighting. It is suggested that the cause of the majority of these riots is the Muslim Brotherhood attempting to break up the protests against the President's decree of immunity and the apparently overly Theocratic new Constitution. In retaliation, the Brotherhood is finding itself under attack, with its offices being burned and their organisation disrupted despite military support and protection. One 'amusing' image from the scenes on television is the sight of protesters wearing the black and white plastic masks representing Guido Fawkes, the 17th Century British rebel who attempted to blow up Parliament. One wonders if they know who he was, or indeed, what he stood for?

I noted with some interest that there are a number of indications that the bulk of the Egyptian population don't want an exclusively 'Islamic' state. They have enjoyed a considerable degree of tolerance and a relaxed environment of religious and ethnic lifestyle for far longer than most other Islamic countries and it does seem that the Muslim Brotherhood is losing its early support. This does, in part, seem to be related to the behaviour of some of their supporters who have been throwing their weight around in communities and enforcing their interpretation of religious laws on everyone. There are reports of their demanding the use of private peoples toilets and access to shops and homes to 'check for un-Islamic activity.'

It doesn't look as if Mr. Mursi's demand to meet all opposition leaders tomorrow and 'discuss' their concerns, is going to get the attendance he wants. Not even his statement that his 'Decree of Immunity" is a "temporary measure" to be lifted once the referendum on the Constitution his Muslim Brotherhood chums have drawn up has gained any credibility. I doubt it's helping his image any to have troops throwing up a barricade of razor wire, anti-assault barriers round the Presdential Palace and backing it up with tanks. Nor, I suspect, is it going to help him to keep bleating that the rioting is the result of "foreign powers interfering in Egyptian affairs.' It does seem that the Constitution he wants adopted is deeply unpopular with a large section of the population, so perhaps the sensible thing to do would be to place the referendum on hold - as the opposition want - and then get everyone round the table to thrash out an acceptable alternative.

As I said, that would be the sensible thing, but then politicians driven by 'religious' conviction of the fundamental sort (whether based on religious teaching or outright opposition to any form of it) are seldom sensible - as we in the West have good reason to know both historically and in the present day and age.

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