March 04, 2011
Egypt & Sectarian Violence: The Deep Security State
First, Kudos to Reason for picking this up, since it is otherwise being ignored. The Muslim extremist narrative is a fun and simple one. It gets nastier, however. Knowing Egypt, I give much credence to the accusations that - vaguely similar to apparently well-founded accusations in Algeria that a portion [not all, a portion, 25%? More? Less No one will ever know] of 'religious' violence is linked to manipulation of the security state:
Was the Mubarak Regime Complicit in Egypt's Sectarian Violence? - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine
The last year of the Hosni Mubarak regime was, according to The New York Times, "the bloodiest year in four decades of sectarian tensions in Egypt." Bookended by two attacks on Coptic churches in a country with a sizeable Christian minority, the year of bloodshed reinforced the idea that only a strongman could prevent Islamic fundamentalism from overrunning the Arab world's largest country.Emphasis added.
But shortly before the Egyptian military moved against the Mubarak regime, Al Arabiya television reported allegations that the Egyptian government, not content with fighting actual Islamists, may have invented some of its own enemies. An official government probe is looking into reports that the New Year's Eve church bombing in Alexandria, initially blamed on Al-Qaeda, might actually have been perpetrated by the Egyptian government, with the intention of gaining sympathy and support from the West. The Saudi-backed TV station—founded as a moderate alternative to Al Jazeera, and host to Barack Obama's first formal interview as president in January 2009—also reported that British diplomats believe Egyptian Interior Minister Habib el-Adly had a whole department dedicated to these sorts of operations:
First, on the Italics emphasis: Founded as a moderate alternative!!?!? Reason write lapped up propaganda here. Rather founded out of Saudi annoyance at Jazeera criticism of themselves.
Second, the Interior Ministry accusation I can credit - of course that does not mean that all religious violence, discrimination against Copts and the like is due to Interior. Rather it suggests Interior probably exploited a real problem for its own agenda. I have long viewed, however, such violence and tension in Egypt as a symptom rather than a fundamental. Diminishing space, economic opportunity and a critical sense of desperation and fighitng over crumbs are the fundamental drivers.
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Hence my deep distate for the word moderate when apply to anything Arab.
DItto on moderate, even when I use it properly (which is rare) in some mideast context, I add a just-ate-grapefruit expression of distate.
On Egypt, have heard several secular/progressive/liberal type,s not inclined to conspiracism,but in opposition accuse the government of at minimum fanning the sectarian flames by releasing provocative videos and rumors and allowing physical communal violence to do unchecked, and ordinary life (Coptic church permits to sit unacted). ( The prejudice ar pre-existent and populist nonetheless.)
Divide and conquer is in the oldest playbooks, which Egypt probably has in hieroglyphs.
Posted by: matthew h at March 4, 2011 10:08 AM