More than honour behind protests

NAI researcher Maria Malmström comments the protests in Cairo.

There are different factors to look upon to understand the events in the Arab world. It is a simplification to say that protests are all about to defend their honor and identity as Muslims and Arabs.

Looking at Egypt we can state following; firstly, the post-revolutionary political climate is unstable and different extremists take advantage of the situation. It can be groups within political Islam as well as football supporters like the Ultras.
At social media one can read statements from Mubarak supporters saying “this is what happens with an Islamic government in place”. Others, like the Egyptian journalist Shahira Amin, respond with “as if there were no terror incidents before”.

It is important to stress that most Muslims condemn the provoking youtube-clip as well as violent attacks on American Embassies.  

Secondly, anti-American expressions are nothing new and didn´t disappear after the revolution. Degradation and disrespect is part of a wider anti-Western discourse in the Arab world and is linked to colonial heritage, anti-Islamic racism, xenophobia, the Israel-Palestine conflict, the Iraq War and the sense of cultural impoverishment. Moreover, the administrations during president Sadat and president Mubarak have by Egyptians always been seen as puppets to the USA.

President Obama in Washington stated that Egypt is neither an ally nor an enemy. Perhaps this is why president Mursi condemns violence but in fact welcomes peaceful demonstrations. The Egyptian president wants to show that Egypt is more autonomous than the people seem to believe, and also to prove he is no marionette. It’s a sensible navigation for the president since he needs to appease the public opinion without losing the good relations with USA, which implies an annual support of 1,5 billion dollar.

Also read article in Aljazeera by professor Mark LeVine.

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