For the light to come back

There is something gloomy now about the nights of Cairo, which you notice it while driving at night. It’s as if the City has suddenly become less bright at night, and it doesn’t shine the way it used to. I used to think I am imagining it, and then tonight I’ve finally figured it out: Not only does it seem as if the light bulbs that they are using now to light the 6th October bridge at night are dimmer, there are dozens of light poles that are simply off, and have been for a while now, with no one fixing them. Their absence makes the night full of dread, as if with the rising crime and the continued lack of safety of our streets are not reasons enough. Those light poles and their conditions are perfect metaphor to what’s happening in the country right now: The situation is, slowly but surely, deteriorating, and nobody is doing anything to fix that. The Arab spring has turned into nuclear bloody winter, and the lights are slowly fading.

If we ignore the current political situation for a second, we might be able to focus on what’s really happening in the country, and maybe, just maybe, figure out the ways to which we can ensure that the current dark phase is a temporary one, and provide solutions to the real concerns of the people that are both well-thought out and researched. We don’t do that, and instead we offer platitudes and theoretical solutions that don’t adhere to practical reality or our goals. We started a revolution to prevent corruption, and now the government officials, at least on the municipalities’ level, are being more corrupt than ever and being blatant about it, and nobody is doing anything or offering any real solution to actually stop that from happening. The same is happening in regards to our cattle, and to our economy, and nobody has a clue on how to fix this, or has a real full understanding of the problem and why it exists in the first place. Without that, we are doomed to stay stuck with our problems and to watching them continue to exasperate and grow to something of ghoulish proportions, without the ability to fix the problem on the long term. And nowhere, and I mean nowhere, is that more evident in our problems with security and law enforcement, or the fact that it still doesn’t seem to exist on our streets in any meaningful capacity. There are reasons for that that we must understand, or we are stuck in this limbo of a broken country, with no hope of ever getting out.

There is no doubt that our Police force leaves much to be desired, or that it’s filled with people who may not have criminal minds or intentions, but definitely have criminal attitudes. However, this is not an article that aims to attack them and continue to call them all the names and adjectives that we have so grown to use regarding them, neither does it aims to apologize for their actions, or excuse them. This article aims to understand the root of the problem of police reform, and why they continue to act like criminals are worst, or criminally negligent at best. It’s easy to take the position of many revolutionaries and write off the force as 99% criminals and butchers, but it doesn’t help solve anything, nor will any of the plans that aim to “clean the police” that keep popping up. The Problem, in a nutshell, and away from any criminal or corrupt activity they engage in, is simply this: Our Police is comprised of severely limited (many of which are violent) human beings that are facing an extremely hostile environment without proper training or resources, at a shit salary and shitty hours, to protect a public that daily demands their presence on the street, but refuses to obey the law or respect their authority. But if we take a bird eye view, we will find that things are slightly more complex than that. Here is some food for thought to consider in this debate:

  • Like many government institutions (the army, the judiciary, the media), our police suffers from a severe case of nepotism, with families that all work in that sector. The Son gets into the MOI due to some strings done by his father who is also in the MOI, and pre revolution it was the parents and their friends protecting the sons if they got into trouble. After the revolution, it is the sons, the law-ranking street officers who are refusing any punishment against their parents (and parents’ friends) generation. For the lack of a better word, our police force is a clan.
  • Throughout their 4 year study in the Police academy, they are not trained in any way, shape or form to apply the law or deal with the public, or even to do proper police work. They don’t get trained on crime scene investigation, proper interrogation techniques, or respecting the same law & process they are supposed to protect. They have something called “The scene of the crime” theater, where they are supposed to learn how investigate a crime scene. That thing is never opened or used unless we have foreign visitors. Otherwise, it is closed and never used.
  • As much as there is talk about how much funding the MOI receives in the Budget, the reality is that they are severely under-funded and under-resourced. Take Maadi for example, where they have one police officer and three soldiers to protect all of the Maadi banks, and with an old blue pick-up truck (elbox) to chase out potential robbers who usually are driving stolen new 4×4 cars, or guys on motorcycles (They also have one police officer in charge of protecting all the gas stations in Maadi as well). Or in Heliopolis, where during my run for parliament my friend Ramy’s bag was stolen from his car, at 10 pm at night, on the very busy street of Marghany, on a Friday night, and the car was parked in front of the presidential palace. Our trip to the Police station was depressing, because they were helpless, and still reeling from the fact that the police checkpoint in Roxy was just robbed two days ago of its computers. We awaited the patrol sergeants in the area to arrive, which they did 20 minutes later in a taxi, because they don’t have cars or motorbikes, and are supposed to “secure” a three kilometers radius area at night on foot, which is safe to say is not the most efficient way to do this. They complained to us incessantly on how helpless they are, and how they have orders of “selective law enforcement”: i.e. if they found someone smoking up in the street for example, and they have a Heliopolis address (thus rich and upper-middle class) they were clearly instructed to let them go, all the while are encouraged to apply the law fully if the person had a “Ain Shams” address for example, which is the neighboring lower-middle class neighborhood. Why? Because their commanding officers don’t want headaches (upper-middle class people have connections & media access that could cause them trouble as opposed to their middle and lower-middle counterparts) or the people from the neighborhood to dislike them further, thus sending to their lower-ranks the same message they had before the revolution: the law is meaningless when it comes to the affluent, thus ensuring the perpetuation of the lack of respect to any law, because If the country’s most educated won’t respect the law, even on the level of putting seatbelts on, or talking on the phone while driving, or hell, having your license on you while driving, then who will?
  • The question then arises: well, if the resources are the same, and the attitude was the same, how was Cairo so secure before the revolution? Well, the answer was simple: FEAR. They harnessed and perpetuated the fear from the Police, and the fear from being taken into Police custody, who will abuse, mistreat, torture and sometimes even kill you, to ensure that the citizens complied with “the law” and that the streets were “secure”, which they did through the mistreatment of the citizens or the distribution of what is now known as “Police torture videos”, which were aimed at lower classes to put the fear of God into them. This method lead them on the very dangerous path of viewing themselves as also above the law and able to literally get away with murder, especially with the culture of zero-accountability that marked the Habib El-Adly reign. They also had a very good idea of who the “repeat offenders” in the area were, so if a crime happened, they would simply round them up and torture them until someone confessed, fully understanding that if he was truly guilty, then justice was done, and if not, the population would feel safe again since “the criminals were caught”, and that the true perpetrator would be unlikely to repeat the crime in that same area because they know someone else took the fall for them, and they wouldn’t want to attract that kind of attention in their direction again. This is no longer the case, with the torching of Police stations, and break-outs in the country’s jails, which makes them completely unable to gauge how many “repeat-offenders” exist in the area they operate in anymore, and the rise of human-rights organizations and advocates, who became focused on defending the “suspects” and “repeat-offenders” rights from Police abuse, and supplying them with the lawyers that would defend them, and god knows our Police was never even trained on the right legal procedures to arrest or interrogate anyone, thus ensuring their release and the placement of the Police officer under internal investigation. So, in return, the police realize that it’s far easier to not bother with the rounding up of those suspects in the first place, especially with how well-armed the lower-class neighborhoods’ are at the moment, and the general lack of sympathy when a police officer dies on duty or get injured if they do try to stop a crime, and decided to let it all go to hell.
  • This, of course, doesn’t go well with the few good apples that exist in our Police Force, and they do exist, who would like to ensure that the respect of the police and the security of the streets return once again, because, like the rest of us, they reside in them. So a few in Heliopolis suggested that the MOI supply them with small wireless lipstick cameras that they can wear as part of their uniforms, recording their interactions with the general public, and acting as evidence and an arbiter in deciding if they broke the law or rules of conduct with the citizens and vice versa, and have it all logged in hard-drives in their patrol cars. That idea was of course rejected by the older generation in management, no reason given. Another police officer came up with a plan to actually secure an entire neighborhood with the low cost of 15,000 pounds (2.5 thousand dollars), and that idea was also rejected by the older generation, no reasons were given. One can guess the reasons to be anything from 1) their reluctance to change their ways to 2) lack of resources, to 3)fear of “trouble” if those cameras recorded evidence that one of the more connected citizens broke the law, or one of their officers in the lower-class neighborhoods did the same thing, thus stopping their ability to interfere or “resolve the situation”. Thus again sending them the same message from their offices of Power: Don’t bother; which is easy for them to do since they are not the ones on the front-lines of anything and don’t want any accountability for anything.
  • This general culture of lack of accountability or desire for improvement by the older ranks naturally leaves the lower-ranks officers quite resentful of them and of their orders to “bring back security” to the streets, and also making them believe that they are expendable, since they are asked to go and stop criminals that have better guns and better cars equipment than they do, and without the leaders that don’t care for them or the public that neither fears or respect them, so they simply don’t obey any order given to them that would place their lives at risk. Take for example of the events of Mansour Mohamed, where the MOI insisted that they didn’t give any of the officers any live ammo or birdshot ammo, but rather blanks, and contrast that with the thousands of injured with birdshots all over their bodies. We naturally assume that the MOI is lying, but that’s actually not the case. The MOI really did not give the officers any live ammo of any kind; the low-ranking officers, Lieutenants and captains, are the ones buying it themselves, with half of their salaries, mostly from their officer friends in the army, and if they don’t have any, they go to Gun-shops and buy it there. Why? Because they believe, totally and utterly, that the revolutionaries want them dead, and that if any of them gets caught by the protesters, they might not make it our alive by firing blanks at them, so they take the blanks from the Ministry, toss them, use the live ammo and go out guns-blazing and shooting any of them that’s close enough to be in range, to get them to either flee or be “neutralized”, knowing full well that they will get away with it because legally there is no evidence, and that the rule of zero-accountability still exists in the MOI, and emboldened by the fact that any Minister that takes over can simply be removed by 1) mounting public anger to anything bad that any of them anywhere in the country can do or 2) Cabinet changes that keep taking place so often that I bet that half of the readers of this post wouldn’t be able to say who the current MOI Minister is without looking it up. After 15 years of having the same minister, the MOI has changed ministers 3 times in the span of a year, and is expected to have a 4th one the moment the MB forms the new government, so why bother with any of their directives orders or plans, if they can just be replaced at any given moment?

And mind you, this is nothing. Just the tip of the ice-berg of the cluster-fuck that is our current security situation, and it doesn’t even take into account all the Police officers who have, over the years, become so corrupt that they are the ones running crime (drug rings, prostitution rings, theft-rings) in their neighborhoods, nor does it take into account our fantastically criminal state security apparatus and all the shit that they did and still do throughout their reign, and that nobody, again, is doing anything real or substantive about it. So, for a lack of a better word, we are currently in a cluster-fuck, and one that is unlikely to change or improve in the coming couple of years because as any criminal-justice major will tell you that worsening economic situation and the lack of strong and present law-enforcement will lead to the rise of petty-crime. You add to that the instances of newly forming organized crime structure that are starting to show themselves, and the ever worsening situation of street-children and street-families, who are 1) increasing and 2) many of which are venturing into semi-organized crime as well, and you start seeing the increasingly darker picture of our very near future. The question then becomes: what should we do?

Well, many of the proposals and solutions presented, from “firing everyone who broke the law”, to “we can train lawyers to become police officers in a year” are naïve and impractical. If we fired every police-officer who broke the law, we will fire them all, and if we train lawyers to become police officers in a year there is no guarantee that 1) the lawyers who will join won’t be equally corrupt to the ones in office now, or 2) that they will be any more effective in enforcing the law, given the worsening crime situation and their lack of the tools and street knowledge that the police force cultivates over the years that allows them to do their jobs and 3) the problems highlighted above will continue to exist, because, well, who will train and equip them except the current crop of MOI honchos who are equally ill-trained and equipped? What can be done?

Well, I am no expert, nor am I nearly qualified to provide the solution, but I do understand some things, so I will present them here also as my suggestions to slightly improve the situation:

  • There is no such thing as fast police-reform. The Police in Belguim, an affluent first world rich country, took them 10 years to reform their police force from something that used to be considered a joke to something respectable. Their conditions were nowhere near as bas ours was, and it took them 10 years, so we shouldn’t expect anything faster.
  • Crime will happen in Egypt, like it happens anywhere else in the world. Muggings, breaking and entry, even murder, are commonplace everywhere in the world, even in the safest areas of the most affluent civilized countries. It sucks, but it’s normal. What we had before was abnormal and resulted in consequence to everything that took place in the past year. The return to that will not solve any of our crime problems, but rather exasperate them more.
  • Join the Police. The corrupt clan “Band of brothers” culture of the MOI needs to be broken and this could only happen if ethically-minded Egyptians applied to the Police academy and joined the force. We didn’t encourage young revolutionaries to do that last year, even though we should’ve, because that would’ve been the most logical way to produce a new crop of Police officers in the near future that wouldn’t be corrupt and who would take their job and the law seriously. Another suggestion should’ve been ensuring that the two years of law that the Police get as part of their education as police officers should actually be taken outside the academy and in the regular universities of Cairo and Ain Shams, thus breaking the fraternity feeling that the police recruits have and that makes them protect each other over applying the law, and making the newly graduated police officer a part of a greater society, instead of the bubble they get placed in for four years inside the Police academy.
  • There is absolutely no other choice but for the culture of proper Police investigation to make a come-back to our Police force, which should be our demand and concern. Training the officers and recruits on police investigations should be our first priority, and getting them experts from abroad on this should be a national demand until we cultivate our own.
  • Technology and IT will help: The use of cameras is not a bad idea at all, and ensures 1) the existence of evidence of the charges presented against the suspect, 2) the following of police procedures by the police, and 3) ensuring the equal treatment of all, citizens and police, according to the law. The creation of a strong national database is also a must that connects everyone’s ID number with the criminal record or lack there-of, and giving the officers hand-held computers that allows them access to such a network when they apprehend someone that they believe to be suspicious due to his “appearance” to verify the need to take them to the police station to investigate further. Currently, the only such computer is found inside the police station, and thus created the need-or the excuse- to take the suspected citizen back to the police station to “investigate”, which is where the majority of the abuse historically happens. Having those computers or hand-held devices will eliminate that problem or excuse immediately.
  • Put on your seat-belts. For real. Respect the law even if you don’t respect the law-enforcer. Don’t complain about corruption when you are willing to use it to get yourself or your loved-ones out of trouble. Don’t complain about traffic officers when you continuously break all of the laws every time you drive. The Law shouldn’t be respected because of fear of punishment, but for the desire of the citizens to live in a civilized ordered society. You know that corny saying of “Be the change you want to see”? Well, in our case it’s not that corny. If you won’t respect the law and encourage others to do the same, don’t complain about the crime or the police, because, guess what? You are part of the problem. Big time.
  • Offer your assistance to improve the situation, and it might get improved. I am working on getting the police sergeants in Heliopolis Chinese motorbikes, so that they can at least cover their 3km patrol areas on something other than foot, and thus making them slightly more efficient in crime prevention or criminal apprehension. Someone else I know is offering to 15 K necessary to implement the plan of that police officer, with the condition that the same officer present an equal plan for a poorer neighborhoods that he is also willing to fund. We are living in the same country, might as well start behaving like we are a community.

Those suggestions are not a silver bullet, nor will they solve the problems that we have immediately, but they are a start, and we must start somewhere, and do it together, if we want things to improve, instead of always wanting to throw the responsibility on someone else and complaining that they don’t do their jobs. The deterioration that is taking place in all the sectors might not be our fault, but it has to be our responsibility, if not for the love of our country, then for our own self-interest. The nights might be becoming gloomier by the minute, but if we don’t do something about it, well, the light might never come back.

29 Comments on For the light to come back

  1. jobicoppola
    March 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    If you think putting on seatbelts is silly and trivial, you should read about ‘broken windows theory’:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory

    It worked in New York City, and it can work in Egypt, but know this: the small things do matter, and if you want a society with order, you yourself must be part of the solution.

    Reply
    • tim seah
      March 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      The Broken Window theory did not work in NYC. An economic boom and the discriminatory rounding up of black people worked in NYC. Giuliani the highly paid law-and-order consultant has had much less luck applying his (police commissioner’s) much-vaunted doctrine in Mexico, to take one example more similar to Egypt than is New York.

      Reply
      • Valerie
        April 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm

        Wow, Tim, you have no idea. Who told you this garbage, and why did you believe it? The Broken Window Theory DID work in New York, as did hiring of locals for law enforcement in DC, to end what appeared to be widespread lawlessness. With more information, that picture of widespread lawlessness resolved into the multiple violations at every level by a relatively small number of persistently bad actors.

        As for the situation in Mexico, you can look to the US Federal government, which has in recent years shipped a small army’s worth of armaments to the drug cartels, FOR THE PURPOSE of creating more crime traceable to the US in that region. Irresponsible does not begin to describe the known actions by our Attorney General, for the purpose of securing more support for “gun control.”

        Shame on you for posting lies in this forum.

        Reply
  2. DementedBonxie
    March 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    ‘Light a candle, don’t curse the dark.’

    Reply
  3. M. Lynx
    March 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Although I guess if I may chime in, I think he’s saying, fuck these theories at the moment, both the one and the other; let’s do something practical to improve the situation before we find ourselves in some serious shit. I’m all for the practical, especially if it doesn’t involve any more guns in the hands of untrained citizens.

    I mean, theory matters, but at this moment rolling up the sleeves and doing something positive is…heroism.

    Reply
  4. yousra
    March 30, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    amazing,objective analysis…

    Reply
  5. kathie
    March 31, 2012 at 2:12 am

    If you think a condition is not permanent, you get all you can while you can and hope for the best. You need a head to direct the body. Where is the head?

    Reply
  6. Ulla Lauridsen
    March 31, 2012 at 10:46 am

    My heart ache for you, Sandmonkey, because you are obviously one of the few very good apples.
    But seen from a distance, it is so obvious to me: Your problems as a nation – and you can extend this to a lot of other islamic nations – is that a lot of people grow up learning to fear only external controls, punishment and reprobation. They do not internalize real values, a personal morality or conscience. And thus they will do anything they can get away with when external controls are loosened or they themselves get into a position of power (like a policeman or politician).
    I really think this has something to do with your culture – the individual being made responsible to his father, his family, his clan or whatever, but never being asked, as a child or young man: What do you think is right?

    Reply
    • Yogi
      March 31, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Ulla,

      I think that is the crux of the matter. I think the issue can be stated in terms of a collectivist culture, that nurtures complete obedience and a high level of loyalty to the group (family, clan, religion, ethnicity) at the expense of developing the individual.

      This is also the basic conflict between Western and Eastern culture. One culture exalts and nurtures the individual, the other exalts the collective and does anything it can to preserve it, crushing the individual in the process.

      If there is no individual there can be no personal responsibility, accountability or morality.

      Reply
  7. yqxo
    March 31, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I hope you seek a position in parliament (again) & maybe in local elections.

    First elections are nothing, second and third are something. I mean we don’t know until after second or third elections if it is democracy Egypt has gotten.

    Power changes and FJP is ousted if there is truly democratic change, it happens in all democracies. The opposition becomes government and vice verse, sometimes quiet often.

    Reply
  8. Guest
    April 1, 2012 at 8:10 am

    We must now all suffer a fate decided by the masses of Egyptian fools who gave the totalitarian brotherhood breathing space.

    Reply
  9. Guest
    April 1, 2012 at 8:11 am

    @yqxp: you are a fool to put faith in a man who scrubbed his archives in an attempt to erase his previous views.

    Reply
  10. Tallulah
    April 1, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    It certainly is bleak in Egypt these days, and there are no quick fixes to make it all right. I am involved with an animal rights organization in Egypt and seeing the lack of political will, lack of law enforcement, is frustrating to everyone who is trying to improve a very dire situation.

    I like that you are looking at practical ways of dealing with law enforcement. More of this is needed. In fact, each interest group needs now to put aside the rhetoric and begin to implement their new ideas into practice, and become part of the solution.

    It’s one thing to talk about wanting change; it’s another to actually put the effort into creating the change you want to see. I have faith this will happen in Egypt. But it won’t happen overnight.

    As always, prayers and solidarity with Egypt.

    Reply
  11. igoy
    April 2, 2012 at 12:06 am

    It’s a shame that most of the liberal Egyptian bloggers seem more interested in writing in English and shaping the international press narrative than writing in Arabic to help their Egyptians brothers run away from their mental jail.

    Reply
  12. Jack
    April 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Glad you are back, SM, but the problems for the Middle East, and Egypt, continue to be Islam and tribalism. Sorry. Look on the bright side though.

    You got to have a rebellion, bring down Murrabak, and then have a couple of elections before electing another President for Life, only this time it is an openly Islamic president.

    Boy, did you fuck up.

    Reply
  13. Faré
    April 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Georgia fixed the problem in much less than 10 years. The secret? FIRE ALL THE POLICE OFFICERS. Replace them with a brand new force.

    Reply
  14. Justice
    April 4, 2012 at 12:13 am

    ‘Sandmonkey’s voice has been a glowing candle in the dark for years in Egypt. If every street light and neon bright bulb were to be extinguishshed in Cairo, those like him – voices of goodness – will still illuminate the scariest storms.

    What inspires me most about this extraordinary man is that he wants the very best for even the most ignorant and misguided. He has compassion for them too. Human decency moves me to tears as ultimately, it removes the most wicked forces.

    Egypt has only begun its revolution. Democracies take time and constant struggle to shape and nurture and protect. My heart aches for all of the people caught up in this transition, as their lives cannot be lived to the full without freedom. One day, I’m sure that there will be a movie made about ‘ The Rantings of A Sandmonkey”. Others will then be inspired to throw light into the darkest shadows.

    Reply
  15. Valerie
    April 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    This is a really good analysis, with some very good, doable recommendations. If Egypt secures peace and prosperity for itself over the next couple of decades, it will be through these kind of actions, by many, many Egyptians. In order to build a country that is a desirable place to live, large numbers of its people must take an active interest in making it work well. It’s slow work, but the rewards are huge. When people of good will work together for the common good, their actions are both wise and effective.

    Maintenance of a country that is already wealthy and powerful is also necessary, and also depends on huge numbers of people, again of good will and again working together for the common good.

    Consistent with my response to some slander posted above by an ignorant person, I say it is just as important to identify what works, and to praise those who have made worthwhile contributions to the common good. Having a big, wealthy, powerful country that adheres to the notion of “liberty and justice for all” is not a permanent condition, and it is dangerous to fall for facile lies by people who want to destroy it from within.

    Right now, we have people who want to lie to us about what works, to tell us that the good and strong safeguards for freedom built into our society should be transformed into the dusty, unworkable habits of the old Soviet Union. They want to pretend that decisions in our judicial system, from the decision by a police officer to question a person, through investigation, trial, appeal, and release or punishment, all turn on trivia like the color of a person’s skin, or their creed.

    They do this because people in America hate decisions based on trivialities such as a person’s race, creed, or color, and no slander is worse in American society than the charge of such injustice. They sling that charge around very carelessly, because they know their own polices are not well-liked because they are extreme and limiting for our future.

    Each generation of each country has its own watch. You have yours, I have mine, and may we both find energy, faith, and good will sufficient to the trials of our days.

    Reply
  16. New Era Hats
    April 5, 2012 at 5:07 am

    I would like to appreciate your hard work you did write this post, Thanks for sharing this valuable post.

    Reply
  17. Zahra
    April 5, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I wonder if trying to implement reform would work from the ground up, instead of the top down. Meaning – perhaps neighborhoods should start some “Neighborhood Watch” type of groups. In the United States we have them – they are all volunteer and do not act as police but as a deterrent by their mere presence. They patrol the neighborhoods keeping an eye out for suspicious activity which they report to the police.

    Now I realize there are not really any police to report to but if things are scaled down to neighborhoods providing security, and having a good relationship with the police – the police will feel more respected, and less able to be generally corrupt. The citizens will feel more involved and empowered – they will start to feel a sense of personal responsibility for their community.

    On that vein – in the USA (btw I am in Egypt right now), we have ‘Adopt a Highway’ programs where various civic groups adopt a stretch of the highway (maybe a mile in length) and once or twice a year clean up the trash along the sides of the roads. It isn’t limited to highways but people also adopt streams, rivers, neighborhoods, etc. I fail to see why some neighborhoods – affluent even – have so much garbage even between buildings.

    Our mosque in the USA routinely organizes groups of men, women and youth, to go around the neighborhood picking up trash just as a way to be good neighbors. I know that people will see this post and say that the USA is a rich country but no – we do these volunteer activities for free as a way to enhance life and do not wait for the government to come up with the money to do it. And, it is the well-educated, wealthy people leading the way, who are out there organizing and picking up the trash. It is not seen as a ‘shame’ at all – it is admirable.

    I am just kicking around ideas but it seems to me that Egyptians need to feel a sense of ownership of their own destiny instead of waiting for ‘the government’ to solve their problems. People power and a sense if civic identity and responsibility can go a long way.

    Reply
  18. W. C. Taqiyya
    April 6, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Dude, assuming you are in Egypt, you live in a country with no established, properly functioning institutions of government. Unless total corruption counts. How long has it been since Egypt had a properly functioning legal system? The fact is, the only thing holding your country together is the military dictatorship. Propped up and now replaced by the council of generals who function just like mafia chiefs. I last visited Egypt in 1985 as a member of the U.S. military force that was sent in to scare the crap out of Libya’s dictator, among other things. Mubarak, dictator though he was, still had to replace the military forces in the Cairo area with ‘reliable’ units during our visit. Plus, approx. 100,000 Cairo residents were also removed for our safety. So you see, Egypt isn’t so much a nation as it is a possession of whatever strongman happens to be ruling. And most of the time, that strongman is kept busy suppressing revolts. Self governance is an alien concept in Egypt. Voting, with no functioning institutions of government to moderate the distribution of power, is an empty gesture. Everybody is unhappy but as you noticed, there is nothing to replace the military dictatorship. It may take centuries for you in Egypt and your barbaric neighbors to develop the skills, sensibilities and institutions of self governance. It can’t happen overnight and if you insist on clinging to the caveman culture of Islam it never will. Americans, after the revolution, were already equipped with a long history of parliamentary procedure, limitations on the monarch, even handed justice and individual rights, liberties and freedoms. We were lucky. Although we are now experiencing the disintegration of the American republic under Obama, we can still remember what it’s supposed to look like. You in Egypt have lots of work to do, basically from scratch. So, get to work.
    By the way, have the bomb damaged (1973 war) buildings in Cairo been repaired yet? If not, don’t bother, next time you attack Israel, they will flatten the entire city.

    Reply
    • Zahra
      April 8, 2012 at 4:01 am

      I just want everyone to know that this bigoted as*hole does not speak for me even though we are both American. Even though he has some valid points to make, they are lost in his arrogant, racist rantings at the close of his post. I write people like him off as right wing tea party loons.

      What is laughable is that he thinks a visit to Egypt 27 years ago makes him an expert on what is going on today.

      Reply
      • W. C. Taqiyya
        April 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm

        Do not be concerned, I would never deign to speak for such as you Zahra. Your comment, aside from recognizing the validity of ‘some’ of my points, was a waste of time. Quick quiz: How many Muslim majority nations don’t have a dictatorship, massive official corruption and a healthy dose of chaos? What is the relevant common denominator? No, it is not wealth. S. Arabia and Dubai have tons of money. Right, they are Islamic, nice work. Islam is a culture of slavery, oppression and murder. Disagree? Then, you may have missed the exciting parts of the Egyptian, ‘Arab Spring’ or the so-called ‘green’ revolution in Iran, etc. Maybe you just don’t pay attention. However, the authorities actually kill people who peacefully protest over in Islam land. Yep, and they stone women to death for driving and for getting raped. You know, really advanced civilization stuff. Unlike your smelly American OWS comrades who rob, rape and murder each other. Thank you for that BTW. Yep, facts are inconvenient things, especially to the ideologically blinded. Happy to upset your rainbow dreams, pretty pony.

        Reply
  19. cheery428
    July 17, 2012 at 1:10 am

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