Egypt’s ‘war of the streets’
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Egypt’s ‘war of the streets’

As Muslim-Christian violence rages in Cairo, leaders fail to bring calm; Tunisian party condemns cyberattack on Israel (after its website was hacked)

Egyptian Christians carry the coffin of Morqos Kamal, at the Saint Mark Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, April 7, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Amr Nabil)
Egyptian Christians carry the coffin of Morqos Kamal, at the Saint Mark Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, April 7, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Amr Nabil)

Commentators across the Arab world are reporting that a “war of the streets” is playing out in Cairo neighborhoods where Muslims and Coptic Christians live in close proximity. Two days after four Christians and one Muslim were killed in bloody sectarian clashes, severe violence erupted once again during the funeral procession of those four Christians, threatening to rip apart Egypt’s delicate social fabric, Arab media reports.

According to the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Muslims and Christians are offering conflicting accounts of what exactly transpired. Muslims say that during the funeral procession, Copts began shouting provocative, anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans and smashing privately-owned cars, leaving a trail of destruction in their path.

While not denying there were angry chants made against the Egyptian government, Coptic witnesses claim Muslims in the area hurled rocks and home-made firebombs and shot hunting rifles at mourners. The result was mayhem in the streets around the Cathedral of St. Mark, a major Coptic holy site, leaving another man dead and nearly 100 injured.

Egyptian police are being accused of not having provided sufficient protection for the Coptic mourners during their procession. If anything, during the ensuing chaos, police fired tear gas at the entrances of the Cathedral of St. Mark and began arresting only Copts.

“What happened in front of the cathedral is an unfortunate tragedy that indicates the failure of our society and the state to deal with citizens and ensure their security,” said Amr Moussa, the former secretary-general of the Arab League and a leader of the National Salvation Front, the leading opposition movement to the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.

“These incidents expose the tragedy of Egypt’s social and economic situation. They indicate that Egypt is turning into a failed state.”

‘These incidents expose the tragedy of Egypt’s social and economic situation. They indicate that Egypt is turning into a failed state’

Al-Hayat, another London-based Arab daily, reports that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has telephoned Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Christian church, and condemned the attacks on his followers.

“I consider an attack on a cathedral as if it were an attack on myself,” Morsi is quoted.

Morsi’s quick condemnation, obviously an attempt to avoid further strife, may complicate matters within his own government. The Dubai-based media channel Al-Arabiya states that “the Egyptian Interior Ministry alleges these acts of violence were started by (Coptic) mourners who set fire to public property.”

The Cairo-based Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that the council of ministers, however, has already issued a statement firmly disagreeing with the Egyptian Interior Ministry’s assessment. Calling the entire incident “a systematic abuse of law enforcement authority,” the council emphasized the racial cohesion of Egypt and urged citizens not to undermine the unity of the nation.

Unfortunately, reports that Muslim-Christian clashes are erupting beyond Cairo indicates that many Egyptians have stopped listening to the powers that be.

Hackers turn Tunisian political party into Israel supporter

While pro-Palestinian computer hackers launched a major effort yesterday “to erase Israel from the Internet,” Tunisia’s Renaissance Party, the largest party in the Tunisian Parliament, quickly came to the Jewish state’s defense.

Al-Arabiya reports that, while commenting on the cyberattacks on Israel by the followers of “Anonymous,” the Renaissance Party issued a statement on its official page stating that “the Renaissance movement stresses its condemnation of all those who do not pursue a policy of dialogue to reach its objectives and follow the methods of terrorists to reach its goals.”

The statement, which was signed by party leader Rashid Al-Ghannouchi, went on to threaten “to prosecute anyone involved from Tunisia in attacks on Israel on charges of compromising the security of a foreign state.”

Shocked Tunisians quickly mobilized against the Renaissance party’s words, with some lawyers offering to defend computer hackers charged with attacking Israel in court free of charge.

These words of support, however, turned out to be false. The Renaissance Party later issued a different statement saying that their party website had been hacked and that the party does not, in fact, condemn cyberattacks on Israel.

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