Uninhabited but geo-strategic, Egyptian blood was spilled to defend Tiran and Sanafir at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea. Thankfully, no blood was spilled defending them yesterday.
Right or wrong, thousands took to the streets, troubled by a government decision to recognize Saudi Arabian sovereignty over the islands. As the king arrived to sign multi-billion dollar aid and investment agreements, the decision bore the appearances of a sale.
The government released official documents to demonstrate historic Saudi ownership in a belated attempt at damage control. The government also long presided over popular understanding that they belonged to Egypt.
But the anger is hard to measure. Is it nationalism or revolution? Is it single issue outrage or pent up frustration? Is it sincere love of land or long awaited excuse?
Protests were prevented at many locations throughout the country, but permitted downtown. There were arrests, but no deaths. A follow up is scheduled for April 25, Sinai Liberation Day.
Is it state prescience to allow opposition to vent and permit a degree of protesting rights? Or is it state impotence to shut down the street completely?
God, there is much to ask of you. These two islands threaten to shift the equation, for good or ill.
Determine the border. Let public discussion turn on the truth of the matter, encompassing all legal and moral claims.
Establish transparency. Let government and society nurture openness, reforming policies for greater public trust and accountability.
Cultivate civic duty. Let rights and responsibilities seep into public practice, shaping both governance and protest after a long emphasis on stability.
Grant discernment. Let authorities respond rightly to international realities and public mood, coalescing with protesters seeking right outcomes through legitimate means.
God, define the above consistent with overall justice, redeeming Egypt from all errors contemporary and historic. Create a society where righteousness will rejoice and people will prosper.
Let these islands be an opportunity, God. Guide Egypt accordingly.