Possibly by this time, you have become so accustomed to riots and clashes in Egypt, that a new blog may not ring your chimes today. However, if we are serious about keeping track of what is going on, it is worthwhile to keep ourselves updated. So much is happening in the Middle East that almost everyday a new twist occurs. Regardless of the repetition, it helps to stay current.
For example, a couple of months back, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew in to Cairo to offer Egypt a large line of credit to help rescue the sagging economy. Of course, Iran’s gesture is anything but “let’s just be friends.” The Iranians are on a push to gain supremacy in the region. Since his visit, the economy has only gotten worse in Egypt and the tourist business has dried up. Ahmadinejad wasn’t exactly warmly received as Egyptians attacked him for meddling in the affairs of Sunni nations. We have yet to see how Egypt will respond.
On the other hand, a Cairo court dismissed the lawsuit brought against Bassem Youssef, the television comedian and satirist, who insulted President Morsi and the government. Inspired by American Jon Stewart’s jabs, Youssef can now continue his own punches at government nonsense.
The big story this week is that five people were killed and eight wounded in a struggle between Christians and Muslims. Members of Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement began shouting anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a rally commemorating the fifth anniversary of the group. The group began in 2008 during President Mubarak’s regime. However, since his overthrow, the hard-line Islamists have been given more freedom to pursue their attacks. This free-rein situation set the stage for the assaults.
President Morsi’s offices issued a statement condemning violence and activities that that disrupt unity and cohesion of Egyptian society. However, that wording could be interpreted as a condemnation of either group. The government continues to walk a fine line, recognizing that their control of the country remains shaky.
Apparently, members of the two groups began shooting at each other in the town of Khusus, barely outside of Cairo. Christian officials said a local church had first been attacked and parts of the building burned. Even though Morsi had promised to protect minority interests, this protection appears to be slipping. Christians make up about 10% of the country’s 83 million people.
The rural areas have often proved to be the scene of conflicts where clan and family rivalries add to the tension. Civil conflicts continue through the country. Christians claim it is much harder to get permission to build a church than it is a mosque.
So, the update leaves us still on shaky ground. Egypt has far from solved its problems. Instability and tension reign supreme.
Stay tuned. More to come.