As part of its long-term campaign against
common sense swine flu, the government has put up US Aid funded posters inside metro underground trains, advising passengers on what measures to take to avoid contamination. One of the suggestions, after household members' temperature monitoring is, “avoid crowded areas”. I wondered if they're taking the piss.
The other arm of the flu-fighting strategy, is, as the whole world alas now knows, the culling of Egypt's 300,000 pigs. I myself used a similar strategy a while back, when I got a CD stuck in my laptop disc drive. After the fix-all cmnd+alt+esc didn't work, I switched the laptop off and on again. When that didn't work, I did a thing which I thought at the time was logical but with hindsight realise was moronic. I inserted a second CD into the disc drive.
The thinking behind this was that there's no way the bloody thing will accept a second CD, it can't hurt, and this might somehow solve the problem. I anticipate a recruitment call from the ministry of health tomorrow morning first thing.
The health minister has admitted that the cull has nothing to do with the swine flu. Advocates of the destruction of Egypt's pork industry say that is a public health measure necessary to rid Egypt of the vile four-legged health hazards and their stink. Opponents suggest that in addition to being unnecessary and insane, the measure has sectarian overtones.
The administrative court today issued an important judgement. The case was brought by a lawyer who clearly does not use Facebook and therefore has too much time on his hands. He is also clearly too concerned with what other people do with their time, and their hands. He raised a case demanding that the ministry of telecommunications ban 'obscene' websites, and the court found in his favour, goddamit.
Here's an extract from the court's pompous and stupid reasoning:
“Rights and freedoms are not absolute, but rather limited by the [need to] protect the pure essence of the family which in its turn is the basis of society, and whose constituent elements are religion, morals and patriotism. The state and society are obligated to safeguard the nation’s high level of religious upbringing, moral and patriotic values … as well as public morals.”
If someone can illuminate me as to how society should safeguard moral values when society itself is getting busy with the google searches, I would be grateful.
Some ministry of telecommunications suit gave an interview on talk show 90 Minutes this evening, sounding non-loony and quite reasonable. Maybe they'll appeal, or ignore it. Or maybe Egypt's youth will be dusting off their porn collection before the year is out.
The porn decision – issued by a court, OK, but some observers suggest that the government is waiting for any opportunity to control internet activity – forms part of a series of weird decisions taken by state bodies recently.
Porn – spreading depravity. Ban.
Pigs – spreading sausages. Destroy.
Hezbollah cell in Egypt – sending aid. Prosecute.
Caritas – spreading love. Stop.*
Emos – spreading black eyeliner. Arrest.
* To be fair, the campaign against Catholic relief organisation Caritas is being led by newspaper El-Masry El-Youm, which more and more seems to “report” news from another planet.
The common factor in all these cases is that they involve a foreign element (or an element foreign to Islam, as with the pigs), which reminds me of a bonkers front page story published by Al Ahram recently:
The official Egyptian government daily newspaper, al-Ahram, devoted its main front-page headline Saturday to an unprecedented attack against the leaders of Iran, Syria, Qatar, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt, Hamas, as well as the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera television network and Hezbollah’s al-Manar television. Al-Ahram accused those countries and organizations, which have been dubbed by Egyptian commentators as the “Axis of Evil,” of collaboration with the “plot” to topple Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime from power by means of terror attacks inside Egypt.
(This was before Swine Flu, which is why pigs weren't included in the list of mortal enemies.)
I'm stating the obvious, but I'll say it anyway: a paranoid regime which exerts the majority of its energies on rabble rousing against an external threat(s) is trying to conceal its own inadequacies. Which is not to say that suspicion of the other does not exist in Egyptian society. It does. Ask an Egyptian Bahai. But as with xenophobia against immigrants in Western Europe, how much of this antipathy is attributable to deliberate misinformation, and poor education, and media which loves a sensation? Does what is ostensibly over zealous nationalism mask a deep insecurity, even a loss of identity?