Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Plight of Bosnian Muslims Is Deeply Felt in Egypt despite Public Outrage, Egypt's Government Has Remained Cautious

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Plight of Bosnian Muslims Is Deeply Felt in Egypt despite Public Outrage, Egypt's Government Has Remained Cautious

Article excerpt

ONE of Egypt's largest professional unions has mounted a campaign to aid Bosnian Muslims. Almost 8 million Egyptian pounds ($2.4 million) has been raised through private donations since the campaign started two months ago.

The 100,000-member Doctors' Syndicate has sent two shiploads of supplies and a medical team to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Serbian forces are carrying out a policy of "ethnic cleansing" against Muslims and Croats. The former Yugoslav republic is 44 percent Muslim.

Under the slogan "Give a pound, save a Muslim," the union's charity has advertized heavily for donations. Dr. Essam al-Iryan, a syndicate official, says Egyptians have been angered by Western opposition to military action to protect Bosnia's Muslims.

"This is unjust. Military action is essential to save the people," he says, asserting that the West's failure to act stems from its fear of an Islamic state in Europe. "If Bosnia were to become an Islamic state, and later Albania, Western officials couldn't accept it. Turkey is quite enough for them."

Popular sympathy for the Bosnian Muslims is high, both in Cairo and rural areas, where a recent upsurge in Muslim-Christian violence has left many villages in a virtual state of siege.

The Cairo press has depicted Serbia as a fanged vampire, its hands dripping with Muslim blood. One Serb, long resident in Egypt, said, "If they find out in Cairo that you are a Serb, they won't serve you beer." Artist Omar al-Nagdi has painted an immense mural depicting the war in a style remniscent of Pablo Picasso's "Guernica." A Cairo playwright is also said to be drafting a play based on the war.

AT a rally in the troubled Assiut province earlier this month, attempts were even made to link events in Bosnia with extremist Muslim violence in Egypt. "What happens in Assiut is a result of Muslim sentiment being stirred up over the massacre of their fellow Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the hands of Serbian forces," said the director of Assiut's Islamic religious institute. …

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