10-22-2011, 11:22 AM
Egypt’s Mythical ‘Foreign Hands’
| Egypt’s Mythical ‘Foreign Hands’ |
Anything negative, like the recent slaughter of Christians, is blamed by the government on "foreign powers."
A Coptic church near Aswan in Upper Egypt was attacked and burned by a Muslim mob, inflamed by the fiery words of their imam. This has happened with increasing frequency since the February revolution in Egypt.
The church, originally built in the 1940s, was undergoing badly needed renovations and some expansion. According to Sharia, it is forbidden to build or repair a Christian or Jewish religious building in a Muslim-ruled state. Some local Muslims demanded that the new building could not have either domes or a cross. When the rebuilding went ahead according to plan, they set the church on fire.
That is not so unusual. What happened next, however, was quite different. When Christians in the capital Cairo demonstrated in protest, they were attacked. At least 27 were killed; more than 250 were injured. Rather than investigate — including the question of whether soldiers had committed many of the murders — the government rushed to blame foreign provocateurs, declaring they were seeking to divide Egyptian society.
This is an old theme in Egypt, and one that is certainly surviving the overthrow of the Mubarak regime.
As a child growing up in Cairo I was taught to fear those unidentified hands, sometimes called fingers, messing with the internal harmony of Egyptian society. I was warned not to pick up toys or candy from strangers or things left on the streets, because they might be placed there by those hands. Later, I heard that any unrest, protest, demonstration, and even rise in prices of goods was the action of those hands. Even the failed attempts at steps toward democracy in Egypt were always destroyed by those foreign hands because, we were told, that would bring the inevitable escape of Egypt’s sovereignty from the firm grip of foreign colonizing forces.
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