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Government, Politics & Issues

Egyptian crisis has no easy solution, says SLU expert

Morris Kalliny near demonstrators at Tahir Square in Cairo this past December.
Provided by Mr. Kalliny

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon,  Aug. 21, 2013: The violence sweeping across Egypt has shaken many people as the shocking numbers of the dead, wounded and injured are reported in the news. There are those, however, such as Egyptian-born Morris Kalliny, an assistant professor of marketing at Saint Louis University, who predicted just that in a recent Beacon article.

Kalliny worries that the recent eruption of violence could jeopardize the prospects of democracy in Egypt.

“The Muslim Brotherhood had a golden opportunity to really show how an Islamic government could function, but they blew it,” said Kalliny. That left the Egyptian people with few options, he said.

“The people really didn’t have anywhere to go and the military is probably the only institution that’s strong and stable -- the only place people could go to initiate some change.”

Kalliny, a Coptic Christian, moved to the U.S. 15 years ago to attend graduate school at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho. his research on the cultural and religious values in the Arab world has been included in numerous academic publications.

Christians have been subject to Brotherhood violence after Coptic Pope Tawadros II supported the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, resulting in the burning of many Christian churches.

In an accompanying video filmed Friday, Kalliny, a Christian, gives an insight from the minority perspective of the unfolding events.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is calling for an immediate reinstallation of Morsi, has clashed with security forces, leaving more than 1,000 people dead,  the New York Times reported.

Kalliny believes that both parties, the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, are to blame. Kalliny cited the two Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo to show how the situation escalated.

“Although they were largely peaceful, there is no doubt that the sit-ins had an air of uncertainty and violence about them,” said Kalliny. “I’m not justifying the reaction of the Egyptian military. One of the sit-ins was closely located to Cairo University, an extremely dense area with more than 200,000 students, and the decision to use deadly force was questionable.”

Kalliny said that the two sides were deadlocked and neither side would back down.

“I didn’t see a compromise from either side, and confrontation looked inevitable,” said Kalliny. “There was a sense that (the military) might as well act sooner than later as the Muslim Brotherhood were rallying more and more people and the prospect of a peaceful solution was looking increasingly unlikely.”

Kalliny suggests that many of the protestors will be forced underground, just as they were under the Hosni Mubarak regime. Kalliny also believes we’ll see a change across Egypt economically, politically and particularly socially.

“I have talked with many families in Egypt and for the first time I’m seeing divisions amongst them, something never seen before in Egypt,” said Kalliny. “You have the patriarch supporting the efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood and the wife sympathetic toward the military and government.”

Kalliny believes Egypt will be a broken country for many years to come, with its deadened roots lying in a misperception of what a true democracy really is.

“In Egypt the idea of a democratic enterprise is one that is built around free-elections – that’s it,” said Kalliny. “However in the West, we know that this simply isn’t true. While free elections are a vital component, other elements  come into play, such as incorporating all factions of government (and bringing them) to the same table, something the Brotherhood was incapable of doing when in power.”

Despite being the most populous Arab nation, Kalliny doubts that the changes in the region Egypt might spark will be incremental at best.

“Egypt has great influence in the region with many nations adopting trends and fashion movements from the 'Hollywood of the Middle East,'” said Kalliny. “But there are still nations like Saudi Arabia, which are under strict Islamic rule with any Westernised democratic changes unlikely to resonate with the people.”

To conclude, Kalliny discusses the relationship between Egypt and the United States in an accompanying video filmed Friday.

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