In April, Egypt will hold crucial parliamentary elections. Preparations for this are being undertaken against an extremely volatile backdrop of violent protests, a state of emergency in three key provinces, weapons caches discovered in Cairo, and growing calls from radical Salafi forces who think the Muslim Brotherhood has far too moderate an agenda.
All of these should be warning signs for investors, if economic indicators aren’t enough.
Popular Uprising, Take II
A number of developments over the past months, weeks and days have triggered country-wide unrest in Egypt, which was already volatile.
• The Muslim Brotherhood president made a very controversial power grab in order to push through an Islamist constitution that has sparked fears among Christians who have no rights under this constitution, and mass protests by those who originally launched the revolution
• Muslim protesters attempted to storm a Coptic Christian church in Luxor in the country’s south and attacked Christian-run shops and Christian-owned vehicles after rumors that a Christian man had sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl. Police dispersed the marauders with tear gas. Christians claim the accusations are false and purposefully intended to spark protests and violence, blaming a local Salafi group that is attempting to enforce its own brand of Sharia law in the area.
• A Coptic man who was an outspoken atheist was sentenced to three years in prison for blasphemy. This particular case has done much to increase the community’s fears of what is to come under the new constitution.
• Trials of security forces responsible for violence against protesters in 2011 have fallen short of the justice demanded by the general population
• Verdicts were handed down late last week against civilians involved in the violence that broke out at soccer match a year ago. 21 people were sentenced to death, sparking mass protests and clashes with security forces this week. As of 31 January, more than 50 people had been killed and a state of emergency was imposed and the military was deployed the provinces surrounding the three main flashpoints: Port Said, Suez and Ismailiyah.
Forces Line Up Against the Muslim Brotherhood
The secular opposition in Egypt is out in full force, and its power is being boosted by these…