Egypt is trying to redecorate. But beware the house swept clean if it is left unoccupied.
The police force had long been closed to the Muslim Brotherhood, but the revolution opened the door. This week forty students were expelled, for family ties to Brotherhood members. The state had always been wary of infiltration; after a year in public power, it is now easier to find them.
The Azhar was harder to close off to Islamists; conservative Islam can be similar but is not the same. This week 71 students were expelled, for participation in campus protests. The state is seeking calm and a reformed religious discourse; many in disagreement have self-identified.
Downtown Cairo reflected the ethos of the country. Unregulated but entrepreneurial, numerous street cafés catered to fun loving Egyptian. This week many were shut down, pursuant to the law but surely jeopardizing to livelihoods. One café in particular was targeted for its congregating atheists.
And the undercurrent of society had long been left there, undisturbed. But this week the Azhar conducted a ‘count’ of Egypt’s atheists, while the police raided a bathhouse and arrested alleged homosexuals. Politically, commercially, and morally, the nation is housecleaning.
Perhaps. Some say the problems are so entrenched these are only a minor dusting. Others say it misses structural problems altogether.
But even opponents of the state are looking to tidy. Rumors say the Brotherhood is trying to restructure, while Sinai jihadists split over Islamic State affiliation.
God, wash Egypt of all its stains. Repair what is necessary. Gut what is rotten.
Help the police to be of one vision, to serve the law while serving the people. Protect the expelled from unjust accusation, but uncover also if their intentions were ill.
Help the Azhar to be of pure vision, to serve you while serving society. May it navigate well between justice and peace.
Help the economy to stimulate growth, to serve the investor while serving the client. Protect the tax base, but also those of lesser means.
Help the society to stimulate freedom, to serve human rights while it serves cultural norms. May it navigate well between liberty and taboo.
And help state opponents to weigh well their struggle. May they submit to you while submitting to authority, knowing the sometimes difficult balance.
God, you warn when an evil spirit leaves a dwelling, it can come back with seven far worse than itself. No amount of tidying will do, if you do not inhabit it.
Dwell in Egypt, God, and in her people. Dwell in her government, laws, and institutions. Dwell in her culture and commerce. Dwell in her marginalized, and her opponents.
And transform them all. Redeem them. Make Egypt clean.