Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Monday, March 24, 2014



We here at the DUNER BLOG keep a close eye on events in Egypt.  See, Cairo is the 'Pop Culture Capital' of the Arab World.  Almost all Arabic-language movies, TV shows and music originate here. Monitoring Cairo media gives us a barometer of current Arab public opinion.  That's why we are particularly alarmed with a verdict yesterday in a closely-monitored court case in Minya, a city just South of Cairo on the Nile River.  Judge Said Youssef sentenced five-hundred and twenty-nine people to death for the murder of one policeman.

Just in case you forgot...Here's what happened in Egypt last August: Despite winning the elections, President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood Party were removed from office by the military. The blatant coup d'etat  forcibly occupied government buildings and arrested the Commander In Chief and his cabinet.  Hastily, they named Chief Justice Adly Mansour as interim President. Such hostile actions are not tolerated by the African Union, who quickly suspended Egypt...the continent's second largest population...from the political body.  

However, reaction to the events was quite different in the USA.  Usually...when army tanks roll up to a presidential palace and abduct an elected official...the State Department issued dozens of 'stern warnings' and statements of 'immense disapproval.'  However, the Obama Administration didn't consider the events in Cairo worthy of the term 'coup d'etat.'  Barack said he was "deeply concerned" about the events...but not enough to suspend military aid.  In fact, a dozen F-16 jets were sent to Egyptian Air Force the next week.

Back in Egypt, protesters occupied main squares to show their anger over elected officials being forcibly removed by the military.  In Minya, hundreds stormed into a police station, where an officer was killed.  The army intervened and arrested everyone.  One you're arrested in Egypt, you are at the whim of one of the world's worst judicial systems. Only 16 of the 529 defendants were present in court for the proceedings, which took place last week.  And those who did appear before the jury have to do so in a metal cage.  That imagery certainly skews any hope of impartiality.  No one was surprised when all were given death sentences.

Defendants in a cage at a trial.
Today, many in Cairo are outraged at the upcoming mass extermination of civilians.  “This is way over the top and unacceptable,” cried Mohammed Zarie, a Cairo human rights activist. “It turns the judiciary in Egypt from a tool for achieving justice to an instrument for taking revenge.”  We here at the DUNER BLOG must agree.  The Obama Administration's integrity is questionable.  On one hand, we plead for democracy in the Middle East and demand elections.  On the other hand...when radical groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Fatah win these elections...the US forgets about these values and supports military coups.  Confusing...isn't it??

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