Sic et Non
Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where I spent much of my time during the four years that my wife and I lived in Egypt
I read the NYT editorial last night and was struck by its long-term pragmatism. It articulated thoughts that have been rattling around in my head.
The writer Chris Hedges makes the point that much of the violence in Egypt is the result of the terrible poverty and lack of resources available to many Egyptians.
The journalist Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed points to an ever worsening resource crisis affecting many as food subsidies are cut as revenues decrease (Egypt’s oil revenues peaked in 1996). The area has also been affected by severe drought which has caused food prices to spike. He notes that sectarian violence is magnified because of the terrible economic conditions and the stresses they impose.
As Hedges notes, violent clashes will continue so long as the Muslim poor cannot share in the broader economy. After all, what have they got to lose?
Its hard for me, living in safe communities my entire life, to imagine the emotional toll which has been inflicted on people in the Middle East over the decades. Akbar Ahmed, (Chair of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington, D.C.), in his excellent book, “The Thistle and the Drone”, covers this in painful detail. What an eye-opener. I’ll never think of Muslims the same again….I was very ignorant.
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