Egypt: Strange Signs And Portents

Strange Signs And Portents

Relations between Muslim fundamentalists and Coptic Christians in southern Egypt have been less than neighborly in recent years. So the fire was fanned when rumors spread last month that Coptic troublemakers were spraying the veils of Muslim women with a mysterious substance that caused crosses to appear on the material. As the tale swept through several towns, mobs of Muslim youths went on a rampage.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is concerned that the violence might mar next month's parliamentary elections, urged his countrymen last week to "use your heads" and ignore "rumormongers who would destabilize Egypt." Meanwhile, the Ministry of...