Saturday, August 24, 2013

Targeting Beards in Egypt

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

It looks like the immediate crisis in Egypt is puttering out.

The best indication of the cessation of conflict is that on Friday, after Muslim prayers, almost no one went to the streets to protests. The largest group of protesters numbered about one hundred people.

There is no doubt that, in terms of human life, the ousting of Morsi was costly. The death toll is about 900 so far, 100 of them police. And so now the question is, was it worth the price.

There is still a very strong anti-Muslim Brotherhood tone in Egypt.

The media is broadcasting footage of Brotherhood men shooting at the police and army. In one broadcast Brotherhood thugs seen beating a man after he was thrown off the roof of an apartment in Alexandria.

In Egypt, people with beards are the symbol of Muslim piety. As a way of combating profiling, pious, non-political, non-activist men are shaving off their beards. Pop up barber shops are appearing throughout the country. That is because bearded men are automatically targeted for suspicion and intimidation. And almost all Brotherhood men wear beards.

So now there is a crackdown on bearded men.

The Muslim Brotherhood has not been able to sustain public outrage at the ousting of Morsi. Combine that atrophy with intimidation and a lack of extremist leadership and it looks like peace and stability are making a comeback in Egypt.

Free and democratic elections are on the way. I just hope that, this time, the powers that be will not permit non-democratic parties to seek election. But this is Egypt, so who knows? 

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