Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet)

Bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland

A country in the state of no state – but what makes a coup?

Reports say 38 prisoners, who were held after the occupation of the Fatah Mosque in Ramses Square on Friday, have been killed whilst being transported to prison in Cairo. This happened whilst Abdel Fatah el Sisi announced to the world that he would be imposing even tighter conditions. The number of people killed by state forces over the past five days is now fast moving beyond one thousand. It is facts like these that make a coup – all politics have been suspended.

Reports claim the prisoners died after gas was fired into the vehicle in which they were being moved from one prison to another. Those demonstrating argue that the gas is often out of date and this makes it unpredictably toxic. What worries me is that there are many isolated, easily identified groups in Egypt. Amidst the hysteria that is being put out constantly by Egyptian state TV and various other pro-military private companies, these groups are now extremely vulnerable. There are many refugees in Egypt – around 300,000 from Syria alone according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Over the last four weeks however, refugee children have been turned away from school and adults have had difficulty moving around their neighborhoods. The situation looks dark.

The narrative of blame and demonization of the Brotherhood will spill in all directions and be very difficult to control. In the months leading up to the coup, petrol shortages were blamed on Morsi’s support for Gaza, which makes Palestinians in Egypt especially vulnerable. Not surprisingly, once Morsi had been imprisoned, the petrol shortages disappeared; and overnight it would seem, the economy improved. Experiences like this suggest all sorts of manipulation of the situation.

What is clear is that the Emergency law will continue. Sisi, who seems to be assuming the persona of El-Presidento more each day, looks like he is just warming up to what he sees as the present task.  For the first time in decades the army is getting involved in the violence. To date they have been happy to stand back and let the black uniforms do the nasty work, along with the plain clothed ‘thugs’ but this has changed over the weekend. The violence is escalating.

Keith Hammond

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This entry was posted on August 19, 2013 by in Blogs and tagged .
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