Monday, March 11, 2013

Losing Control in Egypt

by Boaz Bismuth

In Egypt, violence has become a matter of routine. Considering this reality, it was obvious that once the court decided to uphold the death sentences for the individuals involved in the bloody riot in 2012 at the soccer match at Port Said (in which 74 people were killed) , the streets would again erupt in protest. And that is precisely what happened on Saturday.

The court upheld the original ruling, sentencing not only the 21 accused soccer rioters to death, but also the subsequent protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo and in the streets of Port Said. Indeed, a chronicle of death was foretold.

In Port Said, the rioters were outraged over the death sentences levied against supporters of their team (Al-Masry Sporting Club), while in Cairo, fans of Al-Ahly were outraged over the acquittal of seven policemen, who they claim were responsible for the deaths of many of the fans who had arrived from Cairo. Only two police commanders were convicted in the case.

The violence from that match has only exacerbated the chaos gripping Egypt since the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak. Two years after his ouster, and nine months after the country's first democratic elections, which brought Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Mohammed Morsi to power, there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.

Morsi needs the army to calm the situation in the streets, but the army doesn't trust Morsi and the people don't trust him either. It's a little difficult for Egypt to move forward in this general atmosphere of distrust. 

All in all, it appears that the situation in Egypt is deteriorating. Two days ago the commander of the police's crowd dispersal unit resigned over a shortage of proper equipment. Yet another massive police force strike also contributed to his resignation. The policemen are tired of paying the price for the political chaos in the country, and since Mubarak's downfall they no longer have any authority over the street.

The Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt canceled the parliamentary elections planned for the end of April, arguing they would be unconstitutional. Add this to the country's dire economic situation, and it's not hard to foresee the day when we hear Egyptians in Cairo, perhaps even in Tahrir Sqaure, voicing their longing for Mubarak's return.

Boaz Bismuth


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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