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Professor Q&A provides perspective on massacre in Egypt

Professor Q&A provides perspective on massacre in Egypt

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrate near the largest sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammad Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, August 14, 2013. Egyptian police in riot gear swept in with armored vehicles and bulldozers Wednesday to clear the sit-in camps set up by supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president in Cairo, showering protestors with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out. Photo courtesy Associated Press

Professor Q&A provides perspective on massacre in Egypt
August 16
09:44 2013

Melissa Wylie / Assigning Editor

Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s forced removal from office several weeks ago caused an eruption of turmoil and violence that took hundreds of lives this week in Cairo.

Egyptian police clashed with supporters of the former president, resulting in mass killings and bloodshed as armed officers cleared through pro-Morsi protest camps.

World leaders and officials, including President Barack Obama, condemned the Egyptian government’s violent response to civilian protestors. Though the uproar has gained international attention, there is no indication of resolution.

Art history associate professor Nada Shabout, director of Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute at UNT, provided her thoughts on the tension engulfing the region.  Shabout specializes in Iraqi art, has taught in Jordan and at MIT and has been a member of multiple panel discussions on Middle Eastern society.

As an expert in the cultural and political characteristics of the area, could you provide your insight and perspective on the recent events?

The tension is originally political, not cultural, despite the religious tones added—Muslim Brotherhood versus secularists and then burning churches. In my opinion, the consequences were expected with the election of Morsi. It seemed to shock most Egyptians, as well as Egypt scholars, to have a person from the Brotherhood party elected. They were the underdog for long and the most oppressed of political groups.

Through Morsi’s time in office there was much criticism, including on Egyptian TV channels. In a way the revolution had not ended, but many felt it was hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood and steered in a different direction. People’s demands for bread, freedom and social justice were not answered and the new government policies alienated secular Egyptians, liberals, Copts, many women and even some unaffiliated Islamists.

What is happening now is really a struggle for power between the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists and all those who were eliminated. The violence seems to be mostly instigated by the presence of the army that is now escalating in new dimensions.

How much further do you think the violence will escalate?

I hope it ends immediately before further loss of life. I don’t think it will be allowed to turn into what is happening in Syria. The whole region is exploding and Egypt is too important to destabilize.

Do you see a resolution happening in the near future? What do you think it will take for the conflict to resolve?

A resolution must happen soon. There were several in the making before the latest escalation. Hopefully they can get back to them to negotiate a peaceful agreement to end the standoff and prevent further violence.

For more AP photos, click here. Warning: some are graphic and include wounded civilians. 

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