Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Egypt: The Constitution First…And Honesty Last
By Mohammad Salah
Why don’t the symbols of the parties or the members of the many alliances that were formed in the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution join the people who are holding sit-ins or the people who are protesting for class-related motives or to demand their right to good living conditions? This would not aim at solving these people’s problems, but only at expressing solidarity with them or at raising their awareness on the fact that the gains of the revolution will not all be achieved at once, and that some time might be needed in order to treat the diseases caused by the former regime within society’s fabric. The answer is that most of the parties’ members and political forces are busy with the battle of the constitution firstly or secondly. They prefer the conference halls and the satellite channels’ studios similarly to most of the media outlets. Thus, they carry useless news that do not meet needs. We wish that these pieces of news were real because honesty is no longer a priority and this week was a flagrant example of that.
It is natural for instance that the Egyptian media outlets should be concerned with the reactions of former President Hosni Mubarak to the successive events. Since he stepped down, newspapers and satellite channels have been actively carrying his reactions – as well as the reactions of his wife Susan Thabet and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal who are currently in the Tora Prison – to every important event starting with the launching of the revolution all the way to the ousting of the Egyptian soccer team from the African Cup selections and the resignation of the team’s coach Hassan Shahata! (One newspaper mentioned that Alaa and Gamal objected to the sacking or resignation of Hassan Shahata as they believe that he is the best suited to carry on with Egypt’s soccer march!)
There are stories everyday about the atmosphere in the Sharm el-Sheikh hospital where Mubarak is staying, and the atmosphere in the Tora prison where his sons and some of the members of his administration are found. These stories are carried in minute details that make you believe that the writer is actually lying under Mubarak’s bed or that he is touring the prison cells. Recently, there has been news about the arrest of the Egyptian businessman, Hussein Salem, who is well known for his close friendship with Mubarak and his family. Many pieces of information were revealed about this mysterious man who had remained outside the limelight throughout the term of his friend in Egypt. After the revolution, he turned out to have been the most efficient man and the man who made the most benefit from this era. The Egyptian media outlets felt that the people are quite keen on finding out Mubarak’s reaction to the arrest of Hussein Salem. [Mubarak] is waiting for the launching of his trial on August 3 for charges that might lead to the death penalty. He might be facing the same fate with his two sons.
Among the publications of the Egyptian newspapers two days ago about this issue, there are two prototypes that reveal what the readers are subjected to, and what the media is suffering from. The Al-Ahram newspaper carried, on its first page, a story under the title: “Former president is depressed as his friend got arrested.” The news also read: “Concerned medical sources at the Sharm el-Sheikh Hospital asserted that former President Hosni Mubarak has suffered, on the day before yesterday, from elevated blood pressure and an increased heart rate. His mental status also deteriorated and he was hit by depression as soon as he learned about the news of the arrest of his friend Hussein Salem…” As to the Al-Wafd newspaper, its title read: “Susan gave instructions to abstain from informing Mubarak about the arrest of his friend.” The details of the news read: “Susan Thabet, the wife of President Hosni Mubarak received the news of the arrest of Businessman Hassan Salem in Spain in a state of disbelief… Informed sources revealed that she has given severe instructions to the medical team that is treating the ousted president to not inform him of the arrest of his friend in order to prevent his health from deteriorating.” Al-Wafd added: “Susan Thabet is worried that Salem will deliver information that might weaken Mubarak’s legal position in the current investigations with him.”
And at a time where the residents of the Salam neighborhood were blocking the Nile road in Cairo in order to ask for residential apartments, and while the workers of the marble plants were blocking the highway in order to object to the increase of the delivery charges, the satellite channels were airing the loud battle between the Islamists and the liberals on which should come first: the constitution or the parliamentary elections? Meanwhile, some people were reading a report carried by a newspaper concerning the secrets of the presidential palace. The report read that the former Chief of Staff of the President of the Republic, Zakariya Azmi, had whispered something in Mubarak’s ear: “……” The journalist carried the statement as if he were hiding in the area between Azmi’s mouth and Mubarak’s ear!
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 20/06/2011