Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Christmas in Egypt

by Elliott Abrams
January 5, 2011

Riot police stand behind a protective wire barrier during clashes outside al-Abasseya Cathedral in Cairo. (Amr Dalsh/Courtesy Reuters)

The New Year bombing at a church in Alexandria, Egypt has now claimed twenty-three lives. “I have never seen anything of this magnitude before,” the publisher and human rights advocate Hisham Kassem said, adding that “There definitely is failure on the part of the Ministry of the Interior.”

As that Democracy Digest posting notes, it seems Egypt’s police state isn’t very good at policing. The security forces in “mukhabarat states” like Egypt, where the secret police in essence run the country (with the army standing by as the ultimate guarantor of regime survival) are there to protect the regime from the people, not to protect the people. Even when they fight terrorist groups, this is usually on behalf of regime stability rather than public safety. Egypt’s Copts are now demanding something more, and we will see on Friday—the Orthodox Christmas—whether the Egyptian police will do the job.

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Frieda

    Have you heard about recent Iranian regimes arrest of 60 Christian Iranians? A couple of Armenian priests…they used to leave Armenians alone , now they are going after them…

  • Posted by walt reed

    I think Eqypt will explode into a fudamentalist state in the future.
    The internal pressure will overcome the security apparatus.
    Free elections or a violent overthrow of the government will return the country to previous centuries.

  • Posted by what is "occupation"

    I do not see any hope that Egypt will evolve into a Jeffersonian Democracy (with respect for minorities) anytime soon. Rather I see it being a fragile state. I query has “nationalism” run it’s course in the Arab world? The rising tide of Islamists seem to put a nail in the coffin in statebuilding…

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