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Egypt Against Itself

A society on the edge of chaos.

Feb 18, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 22 • By LEE SMITH
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In Cairo, protesters fought with security forces and armed gangs, who also stormed hotels firing automatic weapons at tourists. The head of Al Azhar, the mosque-university that for hundreds of years has served as a seat of authority in Sunni Islam, convened a meeting between Morsi’s representatives and the opposition. It’s a useful first step but probably won’t change the fundamental antagonisms. The opposition believes that Morsi has too much power, and the Brotherhood believes that the opposition just wants to seize on the streets the power it couldn’t earn at the polls.

Morsi is not the problem, then, he is merely the president of the problem, which is Egyptian society itself. After two years of upheaval, the question is, how long can this go on? Will Egypt explode at a certain point? If so, what will touch it off and what will be the repercussions?

Already, a friend from Cairo laments, Egyptians are growing accustomed to daily violence. The problem is not just the people who are committing the violence, he says, but that everyone else is gradually acclimating himself to chaos and failure on a massive scale.

Lee Smith is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard.

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