Mubarak's repressive measures and the absence of a real democracy is playing into the hands of the Islamic fundamentalists, who now appear to be more determined than ever to seize control of Egypt.

The Egyptian government's clampdown on secular reformists, including human rights activists and journalists, is driving many Egyptians toward the open arms of Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist groups. These extremists find fertile soil among disgruntled Egyptians and Arabs who are yearning for regime change.

If Egypt falls into the hands of the Muslim fundamentalists, the first thing the new government would do is abrogate the peace treaty with Israel and close down the Israeli embassy in Cairo. This is exactly what the Islamic Revolution of the Ayatollahs did when it took over Iran.

From there, the road to joining the Iranian-led axis of evil would be very short. The new regime in Cairo would distance itself from the US and the EU in favor of a political, economic and religious alliance with Iran and its proxies.

The New Year eve terror attack on a church in Alexandria, which claimed the lives of 21 Coptic Christians, is yet another indication of the deteriorating situation in Egypt.

The attack, which has triggered an anti-government Christian "intifada" in Alexandria, shows that Al-Qaeda -- and possibly other Islamic fundamentalist groups -- is determined to undermine the Western-backed regime of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's Coptic Christian minority has good reason to be afraid. The deadly attack on the church could be, according to Egyptian security sources, the first in a series of bombings targeting "infidels and Crusaders."

The Egyptian regime's failure to prevent the attack has left some local security experts wondering whether Muslim fundamentalists have managed to infiltrate the country's security apparatus.

Angry Christian protesters have vented their anger on the regime by staging violent street protests and assaulting policemen and local government officials.

The Egyptian Christians are not, however, the only ones disappointed with Mubarak's regime.

The recent parliamentary election in Egypt, which many Egyptians say was hijacked by the Mubarak regime, has sparked a local and international outcry. Candidates belonging to various opposition parties withdrew from the race in light of the authorities' campaign of intimidation against them.

Mubarak's refusal to name a successor has also contributed to the growing sense of insecurity and uncertainty in Egypt. Many Egyptians fear that the Muslim Brotherhood group, which enjoys tremendous popularity among Egyptians, would take control of Egypt after Mubarak's departure from the scene.

The best way to avoid such a scenario is by putting pressure on Mubarak to stop the crackdown on his opponents -- especially those who belong to secular and reformist parties and organizations, and to begin introducing democracy, human rights, and equality before the law. Otherwise, recent developments in Egypt suggest that the largest Arab country may be headed toward a dangerous state of lawlessness and anarchy.

Related Topics:  Egypt  |  Khaled Abu Toameh receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list

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