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Friday, 3 February 2012

Port Said violence - an accepted part of Muslim political life?

It has to be said that perhaps violence is intrinsic to Muslim - especially Arabic Muslim - societies. Maybe it’s simply take for granted that violence is an option - sometimes an easy option - in the Muslim world of politics and social dispute. We wouldn’t be afraid of saying this about life under Pol Pot or even life according to Borneo head-hunters. Indeed, violence was also a fact of life in 1920s Germany, as it was in early 19th century English society.

We cannot simply reject the possibility that intrinsic violence belongs to Arab and other Muslim societies/cultures if we happily accept it about other cultures and historical periods. Look around the Muslim world and you will see endless political and social violence virtually in every state, whether that be Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan and indeed, today, Egypt.

Perhaps if a culture is brought up memorising and endlessly reciting the extremely-violent passages of the extremely-violent Koran, then violence is almost bound to follow - especially if the ostensibly non-Islamic tribal aspects of certain, or many, Muslim states are also thrown in for good measure.

More specifically, ‘anti-Mubarak’ activists and protesters have already begun to speak of ‘revenge’ for what happened at Port Said stadium last Wednesday evening. And guess what. Commentators have already called what happened at the stadium ‘Mubarak’s revenge’ - revenge for his and his cronies loss of power. So already we have a possibility of revenge for something which was itself an act of revenge (the Port Said violence).

Egyptian politicians themselves have also talked about ‘Mubarak’s revenge’. MP Albadry Farghali said:

The security forces did this or allowed it to happen. The men of Mubarak are still ruling.’

The violence was certainly premeditated. Mubarak’s ‘henchmen’ actually went to the football match with machetes and iron bars, at least according to rival fans and opposition politicians.

But there is a problem. Firstly, could Egypt still function, politically and otherwise, if every single pro-Mubarak politician, civil servant, army officer, etc. were denied any political power in the post-Mubarak era?

Secondly, are these anti-Mubarak politicians and activists demanding, if only implicitly, the literal annihilation of all pro-Mubarak’s henchmen and supporters? Would that end the violence in Egypt or simply extend and worsen it?

What’s worse than all that is the fact that the Egyptian military, when fused with the Egyptian state, might have actually kept a lid on Egyptian political and social violence for all these years - if only with a degree of success.

That revenge against ‘Mubarak’s revenge’ has already begun. Yesterday protesters crowded into a train station in Cairo shouting ‘down with military rule’. In addition, last night thousands of protesters marched onto the Interior Ministry. And, yes, you guessed it. Stones were thrown at police and the police, predictably, returned fire with tear gas.

Is all this the predictable outcome of a ‘spring revolution’ in a Muslim society/state?

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