Friday, February 17, 2006

Egyptian government behind Escalation of Mohammed crisis

According to Danish papers this morning it is probably the Egyptian government which is responsible for the escalation of the cartoons crisis. Egypt put pressure on the Danish government after the Danish PM Mr. Rasmussen refused to meet 11 ambassadors from muslim countries. Four days after Mr. Rasmussens rejection of holding a meeting with the ambassadors the Danish ambassador in Cairo was called to a meeting in the Egyptian foreign ministry where a high level official of the Egyptian government demanded that the Danish government reject the drawings for instance through an official declaration that condemns mockery of islam or the prophet. The ambassador was warned that otherwise the problem might escalate.

When the Danish government did not distance itself from the drawings in the required fashion, the Egyptian government addressed the UN, EU's Solana, the Arab League and the OIT. And it was the Egyptian foreign office more than the Danish islams that saw to it that knowledge of the drawings was spread out to the Middle East countries. Mona Omar Attia, the Egyptian ambassador, met with the Danish Imams several times before their trips to the Middle East. She has probably orchestrated part of their campaign journey.

Yesterday the Egyptian ambassador to Denmark was called home, perhaps considered persona non grata by the Danish government. She will be stationed in Pretoria, South Africa.

The drawings were printed in an Egyptian newspaper already in October, a newspaper with a big circulation.

The Egyptian government is hard pressed by the Moslem Brotherhood which gained popular support in the recent parliamentary elections in the autumn. The Mohammed cartoons may have been a welcome opportunity for the government to call attention from corruption cases and to gain legitimacy with the man in the street.

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