Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Egyptian Madhouse

Watching the news in Egypt from afar these days, you cannot help but be shocked, amazed, and all together disgusted at the headlines dominating local media. From public lynchings, to attacks on women, to journalists being sued without first being notified of it, to what appears to be the overall collapse of the State, I feel almost nauseous reading the news.

I mean, public lynchings? Really? 2 men accused of kidnapping a child are "found guilty" by their compatriots  stripped, beaten, and hung in public. Did I miss a beat and we suddenly regressed to the 12th century? Oh, no that's right. Egypt's Prosecutor General had a brilliant idea to propose the power of citizens arrest to individuals, granting them full access to arrest anyone they saw fit. What has been called the "Judiciary policing," was met with outrage by many. From those working in the tourism industry, lamenting it will deal a further devastating blow to an already crippled economy, to laymen who simply wonder what the fuck? And as is the norm in Egypt, once the uproar sounded, the Prosecutor General's office swiftly denied what they claimed to be rumours, asserting they had never intended to grant citizens arrest powers. Never mind that; the stage had already been set to give some individuals just one more reason to shun the (minimal) rule of law still remaining in Egypt, and hang two men in a public area. Let me also note, these two men mark the THIRD victims of public lynchings in the same town Gharbeya, after another individual Hamada Saber was lynched. Have Egyptians lost their minds?

Well the answer would appear to be, perhaps, but one cannot deny that they have been driven to this extreme by the surrounding circumstances. With Morsi and his gang of MB cronies establishing one backwards ruling after the next, then subsequently retracting them (here's just one recent example), or the Islamist dominated Shura Council saying laws that have been established violate the Constitution that THEY THEMSELVES drafted, you can't help but empathize with the state of madness that has gripped the country. The upcoming elections are set to go ahead in the coming few months, assuming of course Morsi doesn't again delay them, are expected to be a perfect display of Egyptian Democracy pure corruption. I'm sorry did I say that out loud? The MB is already predicting "massive wins" in the elections, despite the ever waning popularity of their party. But of course they know something we all don't know, that elections can be bought with meat and bread, and when all else fails, just stuff the ballot boxes. 

Then we have the increasing sexual harassment in Egypt, which has long been documented as an a phenomenon with no end in sight. Women have launched websites, facebook pages, and mobile alerts in an attempt to deter the harassment, but it's hard to fight that battle when the very institution sees women as a problem in the first place. Ah yes, again we have the wisdom of the Shura Council. This headline would be fitting in a satirical John Stewart piece; it would be funny were it not real. "Shura Council Members Blame Women for Harassment." You can all join me here: what.the.fuck. Here's a few quotes from this gem: 

“Women should not mingle with men during protests. How can the Ministry of Interior be tasked with protecting a lady who stands among a group of men?” [Reda Al-Hefnawy, a member of the MB's Freedom and Justice Party]

“The woman bears the offence when she chooses to protest in places filled with thugs,” a member of the Salafi Party (known for its more extremists views) Abdel Salam said. Salam reportedly continued to say that the phenomenon needs to be addressed. OH! GOOD! You realise that do you? But of course what's your solution? Lock the women in the house? Never allow them to step into the obviously dangerous streets because the mere fact we are born with breasts mean we ask to be raped?

Don't let yourself be fooled into thinking it's just a few stray men.
“Women sometimes cause rape upon themselves through putting themselves in a position which makes them subject to rape...Some foreign-funded organisations are imposing western beliefs upon us; tents present in some squares witness prostitution.” Adel Afifi, a prominent member of the Salafi Al-Asala party, said.
I am offended for all women here. I just don't know what else to say.

To continue with the charade that is the recent on-goings in Egypt, we have the headlines from the past few days. Between rising fuel prices, increasing electricity cuts - deemed a result of the fuel crisis, finding out Egypt is sending MILLIONS of dollars outside of the country in Foreign Aid to places such as South Sudan and Palestine (this comes, bear in mind, that Egypt has been told it needs serious reforms for the IMF loan to come through, including parliamentary elections; the loan is seen by many economists as being one of the few things that will save Egypt's economic crisis), the government has now suggested bread rationing. Do they not remember the bread riots of 1977

What I find amusing about this proposed rationing system is that electronic cards have been proposed as a means to monitor the rationing. Well that should be fun, seeing as how most kiosks / bakers don't even have credit card machines...and throw that on top of the constant electrical outages, I can only begin to imagine how many "Maleshes" will be handed out to customer. "Malesh, we have no electricity, please come back tomorrow for double ration." "Malesh, our machine is broken, have a free ration today." Seriously? The MB couldn't make it any more clear than they already have that they are not only completely out of touch with the reality of life in Egypt, they are completely out of touch with any sense of realism whatsoever.


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