The Spectacle Blog

Egypt’s Epilepsy

By on 8.22.13 | 11:19AM

On Wednesday, an Egyptian court ordered the release of Hosni Mubarak, former Egyptian president who acted as that country's dictator for 30 years. Though he is barred from leaving the country and from participating in official politics, his nefarious spirit still haunts Egypt, a country which appears to be suffering from political schizophrenia complete with seizures of insurrection.

Courts charged Mubarak with the extrajudicial killing of more than 800 demonstrators during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011. After a court sentenced him to life in prison for allowing the slaughter of protestors, he successfully appealed.  

The politically crippled version of the old Egyptian dictator is expected to be transferred to a military hospital in the next few days. Yet, according to Time, the chaos caused by the conflict and state of emergency has distracted the country from public outrage over the release of Mubarak in the same way someone with a fractured arm hardly notices a bee sting. 

At least 900 Egyptians have died since the military raided two pro-Morsi encampments last Wednesday. Earlier this week, the Egyptian military arrested the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, in a crackdown following the raid on two campgrounds of pro-Morsi protestors. White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest condemned Badie’s arrest on the grounds of human rights concerns.

The map of the Egyptian protests resembles a skyline filled with Fourth of July fireworks off the coast of Lake Michigan. The senseless violence proves that in Egypt, the method long ago divorced the madness. Islamist sympathizers have destroyed over 30 Christian churches and attacked members of the Coptic Christian community. To the Western onlooker, Egypt is acting like a drug addict who has relapsed into violence after showing signs of a promising recovery.

After the raids last Wednesday, interim President Adly Mansour declared a month-long state of emergency, which means the military can detain dissenters without due process. The military’s abuse of the justice system coupled with the untimely release of Mubarak reflect poorly on the efficacy of the court system.

Egypt is more divided than ever, say the commentators. Neither side—the pro-Morsi, pro-Muslim Brotherhood protestors, nor the pro-military non-Islamist coalition—has retained legitimacy or integrity. Both are responsible for stoking the flames of conflict and letting violence beget more violence. 

The Economist magazine reflected on Egypt’s schizophrenic state:

In 2012 one Egyptian commentator suggested that the country’s future was to be either Turkey or Pakistan. On August 14th an Egyptian who tweets under the name Salama Moussa suggested that his countrymen, “in the group of madness” saw yet a grimmer dichotomy: Tianamen Square or Somalia. 

For a violence-addicted Egypt, stability appears unlikely. In protest against last Wednesday’s violence, Nobel laureate and former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei resigned from the Egyptian cabinet.  

Meanwhile, the U.S. has temporarily suspended military aid to Egypt while it considers whether or not to dole out the $585 million of promised aid by September 30th, the end of fiscal year 2013. It seems the proper way for America to react to this new wave of Egyptian conflict is to make like a Nobel laureate, and walk away.

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