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Egypt fears being pulled into Gaza-Israel crisis

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 20th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Egypt, with a fledgling government led by Hamas' parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, is watching the recent hostilities between Israel and the Gaza Strip with great concern. Sympathy for the Palestinians runs high here in Egypt, but many dread the prospect of being pulled into a war at such a crucial time in their new statehood.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In an effort to quell the crisis, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has hosted leaders from Hamas and its two key allies, Qatar and Turkey, to seek a way to end the fighting.

Morsi, who now leads the nation after American ally President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year, has recalled Cairo's ambassador from Israel to protest the offensive.

There is widespread concern among many Egyptians that the fresh and untested Morsi will drag the nation into conflict with their powerful neighbor. To date, the Morsi government has reflected mainstream Egyptians who support the Palestinian struggle against Israeli aggression.

"We are very scared of what is happening. We have been through war," Dalia al Sayed, host of a cooking show on Egypt TV told NBC News. "Let the Palestinians unite, not drag Egypt in to start wars."

Born in Suez during the 1967 war between Israel and Syria, Al Sayed believes that President Mohamed Morsi's government is trying to distract Egyptians from problems at home.

"The [2011 Egyptian] revolution was not done in order to take money, resources and give them to Gaza," she said. "Egypt is suffering. People can't find food to eat. It's not up to Egypt to get involved." 

Egyptian Businessman Mohamed Abdel Aziz agrees that the government should concentrate on Egypt's own problems, like worsening security, the high cost of living and rising unemployment.

"We can't always say 'Yes, yes, yes [to the U.S.].' I like the response but I am afraid of the results," Aziz said. "If you don't have control of feeding your people, you can't control your decision making. Morsi took the decision. He will bear the consequences."

At a lightly attended demonstration held by the Muslim Brotherhood after Friday prayers at Egypt's iconic Al Azhar Mosque, emotions ran high in favor of Egyptian intervention.

Laborer Sami Abdel Halim Haidar he came to stand in solidarity with those in the Gaza Strip.

"Yesterday, I saw a baby killed. What religion, what law, what country is OK with that?" he told NBC News. "I want to cut relations with any country that stands by Israel or supplies them with weapons."

"It's very easy to condemn the actions of Israel and issue a U.N. statement, but we need to make decisions that show how we have changed and are not following the U.S. or Israel anymore," he said.

Veteran publisher and opposition activist Hisham Kassem maintains that if Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood truly cared about the Palestinian people they would encourage Hamas to stop firing rockets across the border.

"It is the citizens who bear the brunt," he told NBC News. "People are saying the last thing we want Morsi to do is take us into war."

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