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The riots in Egypt after a court upheld the death sentences of 21 people found guilty of causing Egypt’s worst ever football riot at a match in Port Said in February 2012 show the slide in security across the country. The government of President Mohammed Mursi has been struggling to bring order to the streets ever since he took charge, but progress has been scant. Crowds pour into the streets at the slightest provocation and create chaos.
Thousands of football fans took to the streets in protest and set fire to the football federation headquarters. In Port Said, residents tried to block the canal and attacked the football stadium. Reports say the in Port Said retreated to their stations, fearing for their lives after weeks of fiery clashes with supporters of the local football team, al-Masry. More than 50 people have died so far and hundreds have been injured in the Mediterranean city during protests against the trial over the past month.
That the police are unable to control marauding mobs shows the breakdown in the law and order situation. Economy and security are the two biggest issues facing the Brotherhood, and on both, the government has been reduced to a spectator, without being able to do anything substantial. While the economic revival is reliant on a host of factors, which the government will take time to put together, there is no excuse for the laxity on the security issue. It’s a question of taking complete control of the police force, who must discharge their duties without fear and favour. The rule of law must be enforced at any cost, with stringent action against violators. At the same time, political dissent should not be suppressed.
The Mursi government is losing precious time in restoring normalcy to the country after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. There is a lack of will, foresight and an understanding of the ground realities.
The economy is in intensive care and the leaders must act to avoid a looming economic collapse and the even more frightening risk of anarchy. First, it must enter into a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with which it have been haggling for months over the terms of a $4.8bn bailout loan.
What the Mursi government has failed to win is the confidence of its people and the international community. Unless the government is seen as capable of taking the country forward, tackling the multiple crises, the country will slide into chaos. Sadly, the opposition too hasn’t demonstrated their loyalty to the democratic principles. They are following a single strategy of opposing the government in everything, instead of engaging in a dialogue and try to resolve the issues.
In the current stalemate, the loser is the country and Egyptians.•