these armed fellows were really there to prevent terrorists from preying on tourists and from causing mayhem among their own citizenry. So we relaxed and appreciated them and finally forgot they were there.
Both Morocco and Tunisia had a good many armed men on the streets as well, in the form of palace guards, military police, city police, and guards at all the tourist sites. However, they were not as noticeable or as numerous as those in Egypt—except on the island of Djerba where the Tunisians were expecting a huge pilgrimage of Jewish folks from around the middle east and the world who annually convene at a very old synagogue with one of the oldest Torahs in the world inside. The Tunisians were not taking any chances of terrorism on that island and among those pilgrims. There was armed protection seething all over the island and cars were subject to search both inside and underneath their chassis. Machine guns were carried casually but obviously at the ready. This was the only site that the Tunisians protected so completely. Egypt was protecting all its treasures while Morocco just seemed armed for any trouble that might arise. One last observation regarding the Islam practiced in all three of these north African countries. While Egypt has 10% Shia Muslims and 90% Sunni, it does contain a small fundamentalist organization bent on establishing “sharia law” in the country. Morocco is 99% Sunni with only 1% Shia and very little problem with fundamentalists. Tunisia is 98%
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