Forget what self-appointed experts might tell you or what political bureaucrats might suggest either! Just cast a quick look for yourself at the Middle East North Africa (MENA) map today. The inescapable conclusion - the revealing truth if you will - is that things are not going well at all. In fact, things are quite messy - and perilously so too.
Egypt is a great country for conspiracy theories - the nuttier, the better. In relation to penises, animals or the national football team, talk of agents and conspiracies are amusing and, although genuinely believed by some, are widely shared as a joke. But when they are used to shut down debate or demonise groups of people they become more sinister and even deadly.
A jolt of excitement ran through the house as it was announced that the butcher Ahmad Najjar had arrived. Ahmad was in the El Azba area of Barat, a village on the West Bank of Luxor, Egypt, to slaughter a sheep for twenty-two year old Mohammed Sakkar's family on Eid al-Adha, one of the most important Muslim festivals of the year...
Over the past year there have been a number of allegations in the UAE that authorities are torturing prisoners. Defendants in a trial of political dissidents, three Britons held in Dubai and two Syrians have come out to say they have been tortured. Now, smuggled handwritten letters by Egyptian prisoners facing trial over alleged Muslim Brotherhood links say that they have been tortured as well.
A new Amnesty report paints a bleak picture of Muslim mobs smashing their way into Coptic Christian churches in Upper Egypt this August. The attackers, sometimes hundreds strong, beat up worshippers and church staff, stripped out all the valuables (right down to air conditioning units and electric cables) and then burnt buildings to the ground.