By Alya Essam
Driving out of Cairo’s neighbourhood of Dokki last weekend, I saw a group of youthful girls and boys dressed up in yellow phosphoric coloured vests and latex gloves. A group was holding brooms, and the other was simply collecting piles of waste in the nearest green-coloured garbage bins. I mumbled and recalled a similar scene taking place in the same street on 12 February 2011, when Egypt had its first morning without Mubarak. On that day I was almost fervent to join the group and clean my country from all the dirt the old regime had left in its wake. We have had a revolution! And at that time I thought it was definitely a success which would be owned by all Egyptians, not just the Islamists!
But this time the situation forced me to re-visit my thoughts about the entire idea of the revolution and to whom it actually belongs. For me, collecting garbage this time was a bit absurd. Basically, I felt the extreme opposite, especially as I spotted the clear symbol of the Freedom and Justice Party printed on the vests of the sprightly young men and women. ‘‘Ikwan !’’ I muttered. It is only because of Morsy’s national hygiene campaign that those youths are collecting garbage now.
Come on, of course they are his folks! The problem is that they missed the entire point of paying monthly taxes. Their affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau and president has dashed the common understanding of their rights as Egyptian taxpayers to be provided with already clean streets.
I have to admit, however, that the Muslim Brotherhood and their branched committees are unique in their communal work, and probably the most active in charity. But what is the aim of having MB youths going over Egypt’s streets to abide by their Islamist president and follow the orders without a true general feeling of the importance of doing the cleaning? I feel sorry for Morsy who seems to have an actual problem in understanding the culture of those who do not subscribe to the Brotherhood’s politics. It seems to me that he needs some good help in setting his priorities right, so as to avoid becoming bogged down in the minutiae which should fall on the shoulders of his newly appointed prime minister.
I hardly see typical Egyptians reacting positively to his ‘clean nation’ campaign. Many critics chide him for calling upon Egyptians to collect the garbage themselves, as he probably underestimate the considerable amount of money taken out of their pockets to provide them with a minimum level of public cleanliness. Surely, the apparent objective of the campaign is welcomed, but I can hardly understand the timing of the call to collect garbage while the posts of minister for health and minister for education remain unannounced! I look at the group actively gathering the waste and I feel downhearted for Egypt and its people who can’t feel the same towards their country as the way they felt on 12 February 2011.
I scarcely estimate any drastic change in Egypt’s public sanitation after Morsy’s call for hygiene or his people’s housecleaning efforts. I am just hoping maybe someone passing like me would at least change his attitude and not throw their paper in the street, neither because of Morsy nor his campaign, but at least because we deserve to live in a clean place.