May 18, 2013
Dispatches From Cairo: Brother, Can You Spare a Breeze?
Posted on Aug 7, 2012
Recently, detractors of the new president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, have been complaining on social media about his “Clean Egypt” program, claiming that his asking the people to participate in a cleanup was out of line. It is not our responsibility to clean the streets, some say. … We pay for the government to take care of that. Yet Cairo residents must walk around mountains of garbage on streets and sidewalks. I have seen street children sleeping on piles of garbage in my area. Several months ago a dead child was found in a mound of garbage not far from where I live.
As expected, many Egyptians—encouraged by liberal and extremist media—are complaining about Morsi at every opportunity, finding Islamist agendas in each of his actions. The political opposition howls without proposing alternatives and attempts to block all the solutions he proposes.
Perhaps he is not the good guy some of us imagined, but why reject projects that will benefit everyone?
In fact, Morsi, who took office at the end of June as the first elected president since the revolution, in some ways resembles U.S. President Barack Obama immediately after his own election. He is, at the beginning of his term, a first, a symbol of a new era, a new hope and potential. I believe that he sincerely intends to make changes that will benefit the country and create a fair and viable system free of the stranglehold of the old plutocrats, oligarchs and other corrupt power tyrants who have siphoned off the riches of the country at the expense of the 99 percent. Like Obama, he is a former university professor and untarnished at the outset by an excess of political careerism.
Perhaps, like Obama, he will not be strong enough against the overwhelming self-interest of the opposition to succeed in changing the course of his country. Perhaps he will succumb to the deep-rooted system and become corrupted in order to secure his position. He has made a “hundred days” promise to achieve a number of improvements, but the naysayers have declared him a failure even before the effort has begun.
So many snakes in this box, as the expression goes, it’s impossible to tell which one will bite you when you put your hand in.
One of Morsi’s early projects that has drawn fire is to revive talks with the Saudis about the long-debated bridge between Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the Red Sea.
Experts at Nature Conservation Egypt claim that this bridge would effectively destroy the ecosystem in the Tiran Island natural reserve in the Red Sea. The plan was shelved earlier for this and other political reasons, but Morsi, seeking a stronger alliance with the Saudis, supports the project, which is backed by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Between blackouts, families are still strolling late at night in Cairo, many of them window-shopping. The post-revolution return of TV soap operas, historical sagas, religious and food shows—Ramadan television fare—shows the country is resuming its old habits of television-watching en famille during the long days of fasting. Many families cheered last week’s broadcasts of a significant moment for the nation: the groundbreaking Olympic victory by Egypt’s Alaa el Din Abou el Kassem, the first silver medal in fencing for any Egyptian, Arab or African. Alas, a blackout prevented me from seeing that remarkable event as it occurred.
If the current electricity shortage continues, missed TV shows surely will not be at the top of Egypt’s list of problems.
Ramadan Karim, everyone. Be good and true and cool.
New and Improved Comments