Far from violence, clashes and clouds of tear gas, from press releases and accusations, we are called to escape the chaos of our country and pick up the scattered pieces that once formed a picture of Egypt. This picture, as it currently exists under the Muslim Brotherhood, is in the process of being created, but we will never be able to see it materialise unless we work to organise the fragments.
I leave it to you, dear reader, to pick up these pieces and organise them in any way you see fit, perhaps in the same way the famous Italian fantasy fiction author Luigi Pirandello, who wrote the well-known play “Six personalities looking for one author”.
The first piece of our puzzle: As the country focuses on the state of Egypt Air and how it has downgraded the quality of services provided to its customers, Ahmed Fahmy, president of the Shura Council, has made known his opposition to a film shown on an Egypt Air flight that he deemed crude and inappropriate. Fahmy personally saw the film while on a flight and was so offended that he forced the crew on board to immediately stop showing it.
This despite the fact that the film had already been approved by the country’s regulatory agencies and chosen for display by Egypt Air because of its agreeable, conservative nature. When speaking of the incident, the company’s spokesman said that the film had been stopped for the remainder of the flight for all passengers aboard, while a statement released by the company said that it had only done so for the flight’s business class, where Fahmy was seated. Other sources claimed that the film was no longer shown on any Egypt Air flights.
The second piece: Al-Ahram recently published a story entitled “Farmers will be given soft loans enabling them to be able to afford to marry three women” on its front page. The Farm Credit and Development Bank recently announced in a press conference, attended by the Minister of Agriculture, that they had decided to grant the loans to promote the practice of polygamy in order to put an end to the problem of spinsterhood, with interest paid on the second wife being just 6% and interest on the third wife going up to 15%!
Third: Commenting on the recent train crashes that have left dozens of Egyptians dead, Shaykh Nasir Fareed Wasil, previous Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar, stated that according to the Sharia, the maximum level of indemnity that could be paid to the families of victims was either 200 camels, or 1,000 gold dinars. This form of compensation, he said, could and should apply to any other accident that has recently occurred.
Fourth: In pursuance of those plotting against the Muslim Brotherhood and Islam, authorities recently happened across a pigeon with what appeared to be a strange letter tied around its leg. Although many poked fun at the issue, Al-Ahram published an article stating that a group of fourth year students from the college of Sharia law at the Asyut branch of Al-Azhar University found a pigeon, “with a piece of cloth wrapped around its ankle.
Upon opening the cloth, they found a strange strip of metal with unintelligible signs and writing on it. One of the students, when asked what was done with the pigeon said, ‘we killed it.’”. So: for anyone seeking to foil the plots of those conspiring against the Muslim Brotherhood, killing strange-looking pigeons is clearly an easy, efficient way of doing so.
Fifth: While rates of sexual harassment and rape throughout Egypt have increased, Al-Ahram decided recently to put on its front page a story about how Hamas has launched a campaign in the Gaza Strip to “solidify values and virtue” in order to “combat the spread of Western style dress in the strip, particularly beach shorts, tight fitting women’s clothes, and foreign haircuts”. Adel al-Howr, director of the Gaza Strip’s Endowments Agency, was quoted as saying, “the campaign will begin by educating our youth and strengthening efforts to increase awareness.
So far, no end date has been determined for this campaign”. He further went on to say that “Imams in mosques throughout all Gaza, particularly on Fridays, will be tasked with explaining the significance of this campaign”. He added that “the parents of the Gaza Strip’s youth welcome this campaign”. When does Al-Ahram plan on launching similar campaigns in Egypt? And what is meant by the word “parents”?!
Sixth: The debate surrounding the constitution, and the extent of its legitimacy, is not yet over, as it has not only been subject to criticism by Egypt’s liberals but also its Salafis. Many Salafi sheikhs who advised their followers to vote ‘Yes’ on the constitution, only did so as part of what they considered to be the first step in implementing an even stricter form of Sharia law.
One sheikh, whose video recently went viral on YouTube, claimed that after passing the constitution, the nation’s Salafis would take to court those clauses of the constitution that they felt violated Sharia law. Egypt’s Administrative Court has already had cases brought before it regarding Law 212 of the Penal Code, and Law 271 passed by the minister of health in 2007 criminalising female circumcision, with the prosecution claiming that these laws violated Sharia.
Fortunately, the court refused to hear the case, claiming that none of the women associated with the prosecution were actually in danger of being victims of circumcision or had solicited the help of doctors to perform such an operation.
What we are discussing today is not violence, death and injury, martyrdom, harassment or rape, but rather the issues of the day that the Muslim Brotherhood has chosen to concern themselves with. This includes the banning of films previously deemed appropriate by regulators, female circumcision, the proliferation of polygamy, launching campaigns to spread values and virtue, and pursuing those who seek to get in the way of or overthrow the Brotherhood’s plan for cultural revival.
In order to ward off the dangers associated with this last issue, this of course requires that Egyptians take up pigeon hunting, and keep an eye out for any bird with a strange cloth around its leg. Watch out for those strange signs, Oh Egypt!
Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party