A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, April 22, 2011

Qena Still in Ferment

Not only has Friday become the major day for demonstrations in the Arab Spring, and naturally enough the protests in Qena chose to stage major rallies today, but it is also Good Friday, East and West together this year, which added extra tension to the already tense sectarian situation in the Upper Egyptian city. In my background post earlier this week, I mentioned that the disputed Governor, Emad Mikhail, was about to step down. That report was untrue; the central government is holding firm on his appointment and saying that objections based on his religion are unacceptable.

As I mentioned in that background post, Qena lies on the Nile north of Luxor, and the road and railroad from Cairo to Upper Egypt pass through it; the road from the "Red Sea Riviera" resorts like Hurghada joins the main road at Qena as well, so it is a chokepoint for transportation and tourism. Since the troubles began a week ago, the demonstrators have regularly blocked the railway, and occasionally have blocked the highway as well. Not only has the Coalition of January25 Youth denounced the Qena demonstrations (mostly for their sectarian flavor), but now the Muslim Brotherhood has also distanced itself; while it would prefer a Muslim Governor, it does not want to be perceived as supporting the disruption of the economy.

Some further background over the days since my prior posting here, here, here, and here.

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