From Israel’s Haaretz.com, “In Cairo, Friday is military day” with thanks to Smokem.
CAIRO – The sidewalk near the Al-Azher mosque is too narrow. On one side is the mosque fence, which also encompasses the huge university campus, and on the other, a safety railing made of thick metal pipes. On a normal day, these two obstacles leave a passage of about 1.5 meters; on Fridays, it shrinks to a few dozen centimeters. The rest of the space is taken up by a squad of security guards dressed in black carrying thin, painful-looking nightsticks and equipped with safety shields against demonstrators and stone throwers.
Squad after squad, these security forces are stationed along the sidewalks, in double rows, standing close together in the oppressive Cairo heat waiting for the prayers to end and the danger to pass. Anyone trying to enter the Al-Azher mosque during the prayer services has no choice but to pass through dozens of police officers and soldiers, who will scrutinize his face and walk, and will not hesitate to use force if he arouses suspicion and shove him into one of dozens of military trucks that have been converted into improvised paddy wagons for demonstrators. The vans are fitted with small barred windows, handcuffs wait on the seats, sandwiches and water for the soldiers lie next to them, until they have to be cleared to make room for the detainees, should there be any. This is the situation near the Al-Azher mosque, as well as near the school for gifted children next to another mosque in the city, and next to the Al-Fateh mosque, and near the Al-Nur mosque. Friday has turned into military day.
Friday prayers, and not only in Egypt, have become a political signpost. Like the security forces in Jerusalem, who count the days from one Friday to the next, the same is true in Egypt, Iran, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, a region in which religious organizations, Muslim or Jewish, grit their teeth because a government that is not sufficiently devout, in their view, is running the country that God gave his subjects. In Jewish Jerusalem, it is a traitorous prime minister, who is handing over sacred land to the enemy, and in Cairo, it the president, who is accused of kowtowing to the Americans – the modern Huns – who seek to destroy Islam…