An acquaintance several weeks ago was in shock, “I got my daughter a bicycle which she parks on the street. Last night I found an old man trying to break its lock. I couldn’t believe it!”
Confronting the petty thief, the old man fumbled, cried and apologised telling my friend that he needs the money to eat. My friend gave him the bike telling me, “What else could I have done?”
Variations of such stories have been regaled to me, some more violent; a girlfriend found a knife at her side after she forgot to lock her car doors and a man got in at a traffic light. She crashed her car forcing him to flee. Another friend on his bicycle was chased by a pair on a motorcycle who he luckily evaded without being hurt. A friend’s house in one of the more posh neighbourhoods in Cairo was ransacked in the middle of the day while another was burglarised as they slept. Carjacking has become a part of everyday life. Many people have even paid “ransoms” to get back their cars, after the police either refused to help them or as one acquaintance put it, “just did not care”.
While such crimes may be a daily occurrence in some countries, in Egypt it is not the norm. It is an indicator of how desperate people are becoming and how severe the lack of security is.
Besides the personal tales of horror, the slew on news we, as journalists, cover every day highlights the lack of a state.
The charade of the kidnapped soldiers a few weeks ago reached its peak with the release of the hostages after “negotiating” with their kidnappers who belong to militant groups and promising not to arrest them in return of the safe retrieval of the soldiers. Egyptians on the street were shocked; many telling me “it’s a hoax” as others wondered how was it possible that no arrests were made while the military knew the exact location of the kidnappers in Sinai. The lack of transparency and retribution sent a clear message that Egypt is no longer a country run by the law but the whim of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau.
The United States embassy in Cairo issued a warning on Friday to American in Egypt, warning them against visiting the Giza Pyramids. Apparently, “thugs” have taken over the area and are causing troubles for tourists, forcing them to pay money to be able to conduct their tours.
Every day there is news on acquittals of police officers accused of killing protesters during the 25 January uprising. On Saturday, officers accused of killing Khaled Said, seen by many as the spark of the Egyptian revolution, were released on bail. It seems the judge does not view them as a threat to society or a flight risk.
Cases of contempt of religion and insulting the president have become an almost weekly occurrence.
Last Tuesday, as Ethiopia inaugurated the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that remains a cause of mystery on how the flow of the Nile water to Egypt and Sudan will be affected, a Shura council member demanded a ban on dancing ballet, calling it “the art of nudity”. Representatives of the current Egyptian legislative body decided it was more fitting to discuss dancing than Egypt’s Nile water shares. One has to wonder about the mental capacities of such individuals. Well, they were elected by less than 6% of the eligible voting body, mainly pseudo-Islamists if this sheds any light on the way they think.
Another blow was handed to the culture scene in Egypt last Wednesday when the Brotherhood’s minister of culture fired the head of the Cairo Opera House Ines Abdel Dayem, giving no plausible reasons for such action, particularly since Abdel Dayem is reputed to be an efficient and versatile manager. Workers in the opera house are currently on strike, suspending all performances against a decision seen by them as an attempt to enforce Brotherhood values on a cultural hub.
The cash reserve has reached $15.5bn in April, increasing by $1bn which should be a promising indicator only to discover that Egypt has lost $20bn of its currency reserve in the last two years. The Egyptian government’s has so far failed to score the $4.8bn International Monetary Fund loan. This comes after Morsi’s promise to incur a flow of $200bn into the Egyptian economy during his presidential campaign.
The dollar has reached a record high of EGP 7.02 spiking prices of almost all food supplies as well as energy products except for the so-far subsidised petrol.
During the presidential race the Brotherhood sold the Egyptians on the Renaissance Project, the Islamist group’s ideas for a new Egypt. They promised a plan that will transform the country in four years, Morsi’s term as president.
They came through with their promise and transformed Egypt, only for the worst. The Renaissance Project turned out to be a hoax.
Egypt has become a stateless country and the definition of bad governance. The Ikhwan proved that they have no experience running a country of Egypt’s importance and cannot offer real solutions to its problems. They continue to use the same oppressive methods through the Ministry of Interior as well as their own members; torture, imprisonment and libel.
As one watches Egypt crumble a little more every day with people stumbling under the burdens of life, one remembers the hope Egyptians felt after ousting Mubarak and is filled with anger. The promise of a better future is becoming more distant with the Ikhwani rule.
The positive aspect of what is happening now is one thing: people are revolting. Egyptians have discovered they are able to enforce change. They are revolting against the monopoly over religion from self-proclaimed Islamists. They are revolting against the patriarchal tone of the current regime which is copied off Mubarak. Most important, they are revolting against the current conditions on forced poverty.
Millions have signed the Tamarod petition withdrawing their confidence in Morsi’s presidency and calling for early presidential elections. People are mobilising others on the streets to join the “revolt” on 30 June, an open-ended sit-in by the Presidential Palace until Morsi leaves.
Clashes are expected on that day with pro-Morsi supporters, but people are no longer afraid of blood and mayhem.
Egypt has reached rock-bottom and now Egyptians have to claw their way up from the rabbit hole.