Feb 2, 2011

Of Crossroads and Crosshairs, Islam in Egypt

Chuck MisslerBy Dr. Chuck Missler
Koinonia House

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Archeologists are concerned that looters will take advantage of the recent upheaval in Egypt to steal the country's ancient cultural treasures. The Army has secured two dozen antiquities museums and major pyramids, as well as warehouses that hold important artifacts. In the meanwhile, President Hosnei Mubarak responded to the angry mobs on Tuesday, declaring that he would not seek reelection in September. The Mubarak Administration has said it would establish a representative interim government that would set up elections and enact reforms. Mubarak's falling government has proved tyrannical, but Egypt may be poised to jump from the cast iron skillet into a much hotter blaze.

Egypt, the land of the ancient pharaohs, of power and glory and great history, has trudged on under Mubarak's authoritarian rule for three decades. Thousands have swarmed the streets in protest, demanding the resignation of Mubarak and the rise of freedom. The Internet has been shut down to prevent the networking of protestors, and texting services are not available for cell phones. A 4pm curfew is in effect, and stores and businesses struggle to maintain a semblance of normalcy.

As the police have fought to maintain order during the demonstrations, they have been jeered and their authority rejected. After clashing with protestors on Friday, the police presence dwindled and looters took advantage of the absence to vandalize and rob. The Egyptian military has taken over and has been treated with relative warmth, with protestors offering them cigarettes or a cell phone to call home. The military has far more respect among the people than do the violent police.

"I am glad they are continuing to protest. God willing, he (Mubarak) will go," said one Air Force captain.

The familiar face of the former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head, Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, has appeared before the thousands crowded in Tahrir Square.

"You are the owners of this revolution. You are the future," ElBaradei told supporters. "Our essential demand is the departure of the regime and the beginning of a new Egypt in which every Egyptian lives in virtue, freedom and dignity."

Hosnei Mubarak has run Egypt since he assumed the presidency in October of 1981, after the assassination of former president Anwar Sadat. Mubarak, now 82-years-old, has made it alive through six assassination attempts himself.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel had a primary interest in maintaining the 30-plus years of relations it has had with Egypt. Israel and Egypt have had peaceful ties since the agreement signed between Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin in 1979, and Jerusalem does not want to lose that oasis of stability among its troubled neighbors. Mubarak and Netanyahu have a shared enemy in the Iranian Islamists, and, especially after losing its alliance with Turkey last year, Israel has an interest in keeping Egypt friendly.

"We are following with vigilance the events in Egypt and in our region ... at this time we must show responsibility and restraint and maximum consideration," Netanyahu told his cabinet.

In the meanwhile, Iran has spoken up in support of the demonstrators, hoping that the toppled Mubarak administration will be replaced by an Islamic government that would be friendly toward Iran's ayatollahs. The Muslim Brotherhood, which gave rise to Hamas, has been banned from running for office in Egypt. It sees this time it has an opportunity to make a move toward more influence in Egyptian politics.

The upheavals in the Middle East spell possible disaster, not just for heavy-handed regimes like those in Egypt and Tunisia, but for the Jewish island in a growing sea of Islamic power. Israel faces a strengthened Hezbollah in Lebanon and turmoil in Jordan and Egypt, where Islamic powers are positioning to snag control. A hostile Iran glares from the east, and less-than-warm relations with the current United States administration offer little comfort. Keep Benjamin Netanyahu and the Knesset in your prayers, and pray for God's excellent purposes to be accomplished in the land of Egypt.

Related Links

At least 100 reported injured in Cairo clashes - USA Today
Chaos in Cairo as Mubarak Backers and Opponents Clash - AOL News
ElBaradei’s Ultimatum to Mubarak: 48 Hours to Leave the Country - Arutz Sheva
Egypt Rejects Western Calls for Quick Political Transition - Voice of America
Israel fears peace with Egypt may soon end - Israel Today (Ryan Jones)