News / Middle East

    Egypt's Anti-Islamists Eye Arab Foreigners with Suspicion

    A girl holds Egypt's flag as she attends a sit-in protest organized by supporters of the deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Cairo, July 11, 2013.
    A girl holds Egypt's flag as she attends a sit-in protest organized by supporters of the deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Cairo, July 11, 2013.
    Reuters
    "Beware the outsider," reads a poster stuck to a wall near Tahrir Square in Cairo. "Don't open your heart to him, you don't know who he is," another warns.
     
    A week after Egypt's elected president was ousted by the military, excitement among those calling for his downfall is turning to distrust. Some are now blaming fellow Arabs from other countries for the violence that has followed.
     
    Deadly clashes between ousted leader Mohamed Morsi's supporters and the army have stoked paranoia that trouble is being stirred up by outsiders, especially from Syria and Gaza, home to Islamist groups seen as close to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
     
    "Syrians, Palestinians, Israelis, you can find them on every street corner. They're here to exploit the chaos," said Yusuf Al-Desouki, waiter at a busy coffee shop in downtown Cairo.
     
    "Yeah!" chimed in 21-year-old customer Mohammed al-Nahsi. "I heard two Palestinians on the metro — they were hatching a plan against the military."
     
    A flurry of media reports and government assertions that foreigners have infiltrated Egypt and are taking part in violence have helped sow widespread distrust.
     
    Accusations of foreign meddling during domestic crises are not new and were common under ex-president Hosni Mubarak.
     
    Just a month before Mubarak's government was ousted by mass demonstrations, the interior ministry blamed a January 2011 bombing of a church in Alexandria that killed 24 Coptic Christians on a Gaza-based group "Army of Islam."
     
    No evidence was produced, and many Egyptians believe the attack was in fact plotted by Mubarak's security forces.
     
    'Making it up'

    Since Morsi's overthrow, the paranoia has returned with new force.
     
    Uncorroborated news reports and outspoken pundits paint a picture of nefarious foreign hands at work. Washington has also been named in the media as a conspirator.
     
    Authorities have deported hundreds of Syrians arriving at Cairo Airport after tightening visa requirements, which the foreign ministry said was aimed at limiting "jihadist elements" from moving from Syria to Egypt.
     
    A state prosecutor said on Sunday that five Syrians arrested on suspicion of shooting at an anti-Morsi rally admitted to receiving money and arms from the Muslim Brotherhood.
     
    On Monday the interior ministry issued a statement banning foreigners from joining street protests.
     
    "All those aggressors interfering in the internal affairs of Egypt can go to hell. All those defending them can go to hell too," Youssef el-Hosseiny, a popular radio and television presenter, said on his Twitter account on Thursday.
     
    Media magnate Tawfiq Okasha told his television viewers on Thursday that Egyptian citizens should form a "defense army" and arrest Syrians, Palestinians and Iraqis causing trouble.
     
    "We have not and we will not take a side in the political crisis on the Egyptian street," said a Syrian community group representing the émigrés in Egypt opposed to President Bashar al-Assad in that country's bloody civil war.
     
    There are around 70,000 Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations living in Egypt.
     
    "Our presence is temporary, lasting until the moment we can return to a free Syria," the group said in a statement.
     
    Smarting from their loss of power after more than 80 years of street-level organizing, the Muslim Brotherhood says the accusations against outsiders are part of a "fear-mongering" campaign by the new government aimed at diverting attention from its own difficulties.
     
    "The army wants to cast itself as defending Egypt from foreign subversion," said Gehad al-Haddad, a spokesman for the Islamist movement. "They are making this up as they go along."

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.