x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Weapons could plunge Egypt into the unknown

Egyptians have every reason to be concerned about political groups possessing weapons and plans for private security groups, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other topics: life on Mars and Brotherhood-approved cinema.

Egypt's Islamists seem to be convinced that police forces will turn against them, and that it is only a matter of time before this happens. Hence the leaks and trial balloons from Islamists over the establishment of security forces along the lines of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the Quds Force, observed Emad Eddine Hussein in the Cairo-based newspaper Al Shorouk.

Egypt's Al Gamaa Al Islamiya has announced its intention to replace the ministry of interior; the Brotherhood leader, Saber Abou El Fotouh, has suggested the drafting of a legislation allowing the state to use private security firms to maintain order; and another Brotherhood leader, Abbas Abdel Aziz, called for the creation of a parallel police force that will be beyond the authority of the interior ministry and accountable to the presidency.

Weapons in private hands are not new to Egypt. There have been reports of arms entering the country since the downfall of Hosni Mubarak and Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, the writer said. "We thought they were destined for Gaza for a sacred mission to fight the occupation forces," he added.

But Grinov machine-guns were seized in Upper Egypt, Grad rockets with up to 40km range in the Delta, and a variety of arms in Sinai. These are good reasons to worry.

The unrest plaguing Egypt since Mubarak's ouster have led many to believe that some of the weapons have made their way to political forces.

"Of course, this is a statement for which I have no evidence, but reliable sources have confirmed it to me," the writer said.

Each party or organisation believes that arms might play a deciding factor in the political process. Even if they are not used, they are definitely a deterrent.

These organisations would deny the possession of such arms. There are no declared gun warehouses belonging to the Free Egyptians Party, the National Progressive Unionist Party, the Freedom and Justice Party, or Salafist groups.

Yet, the source has made it clear that political forces have advised their supporters to start gathering arms, with each one responsible for his weapon. And if one were to be caught by police, it would be seen as an individual incident until the day of score-settling when everyone is fully-armed and ready.

The writer asserted that he had seen samples of the arms being used in tribal feuds in Upper Egypt: from locally made weapons to hand grenades and automatic rifles, right up to Grinovs and anti-aircraft guns.

The fact that the army's battle against Sinai's outlaws is taking too long is proof of the existence of advanced weapons out there.

Amid the failure of President Mohammed Morsi and the army to act quickly, Egypt is rapidly sliding into a bottomless debt, the writer warned.

Brotherhood uses film to further its interests

As if the Muslim Brotherhood's Al Nahda (Renaissance) project in the areas of the economy, ideology and security were not enough, they have decided to create a "cinematic renaissance" too, commented the Egyptian film critic, Tarek El Shenawi, in an article in Al Tahrir.

Al Taqrir, the first movie by the Brotherhood-linked Al Nahda Cinema company, was screened on Friday. Many have been critical of the film being screened without the censor's permission, as is normally the case with all films.

But more worrying is the imminent division between a Shariah-compliant cinema and a liberal, arts standards-compliant one, after the Brotherhood succeeded in sowing division among people.

"Such works of art seek to aggravate discord among fellow citizens," he continued.

This runs the risk of creating two conflicting entities: a freedom-seeking group that wants a modern civil state, and one that seeks to split the nation based on beard, veil and niqab, using the cinema as the medium.

"I have not seen the movie, but it is quite easy to infer from the veiled actresses on film posters how some are rigid in applying religious standards on the screen," he wrote. "I won't be surprised if I go to see the film and discover it has no music, for instance."

Al Taqrir is only the beginning of what lies ahead in the Brotherhood's quest to dominate Egypt, he concluded.

'Planet Earth is best place for me to live'

Nasa has recently revealed that Mars may be suitable for human occupation, after Curiosity, the Mars rover, found that the planet contained some major chemical ingredients that are needed for life, wrote Zainab Hanafi in the UAE-based Al Ittihad newspaper.

This news is certainly music to the ears of wealthy people who could book a plot of land on Mars, even if it costs them millions of dollars, the writer remarked.

"But I am wondering how relevant this story would be to the poor who cannot buy even a square-inch plot of land on Planet Earth … let alone affording an exorbitant life on Mars," she said.

Many of the greatest discoveries started as fiction. Talented filmmakers have made mind-blowing science-fiction films that have become fact over decades.

Wars, famine and natural disasters have long alienated human beings. Now every morning, people wake up to a new life-threatening catastrophe.

But Planet Earth is good and generous. Humans have long abused its soil and invaded its space, but Earth has remained merciful for the most part. And so, she wrote: "I am faithful to Planet Earth and I won't leave it, no matter how alluring life can be on other planets."

* Digest compiled by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni