Crime becomes the norm
Doaa El-Bey looks at Netanyahu's desire to shift the focus from two states to the Jewish state, and the violence permeating Egyptian society
The news about a number of unprecedented violent crimes committed in Egypt together with reports on the rotten Russian wheat that entered the country, put a sombre face on the newspapers this week.
The daily Al-Wafd wrote in the front page that public opinion is at odds over the Russian wheat deal. The independent daily Al-Masry Al-Yom wrote that a new batch of rotten wheat entered through Damietta port despite it not being suitable for human consumption and that some citizens reported to the police that the wheat used for making bread is rotten while the Ministry of Supply denied the accusation. Al-Gomhuriya wrote that documents pertaining to the Russian wheat are currently before the prosecution.
Mohamed Amin wrote that he did not know whether the wheat was rotten or that was a mere rumour, or whether the importers deserve to be executed in Tahrir Square or hailed for providing bread for Egyptians. However, the fact that the importers requested that the wheat enters Egypt through Safaga port raised questions because the port is remote and there is hardly any control over it.
Amin also wondered how the state could declare that the wheat is suitable for human consumption although one of its ministers said it contains poisonous grass. However, the writer said there was no need to wonder since corruption surrounds the citizen from all sides. "The citizen is facing corruption from legal as well as illegal sources," he wrote in Al-Wafd, mouthpiece of the Wafd Party.
Abdel-Fattah El-Deeb wrote that MP Mustafa Bakri had referred the case of the Russian wheat to the prosecution because the food contained insects and other harmful objects. While, on the other hand, the minister of agriculture desperately defended the wheat, denying that it contained anything that could harm the people of Upper Egypt. And when members of the People's Assembly called for forming a fact-finding committee, the assembly's speaker said there was no need and that it was enough that the local authorities had become aware of the whole subject and had taken all the measures necessary to protect the health of the public.
El-Deeb added that the whole issue is now in the hands of the prosecutor-general.
The series of inter-family crimes committed during this week was a cause for concern among many writers who looked at the reasons behind the violence and ways of dealing with the problem. Tareq Abbas wrote that such brutal crimes could be described as destructive to the social security of all Egyptians. To him, it is as if he slept and woke up to find himself in a different land, air, people, language and behaviour.
Although Egypt lived in worse conditions, the brutality of the people's behaviour and the crimes committed have never reached such levels. That, according to Abbas, could be attributed to a few factors, namely the corruption of the educational and cultural institutions in Egypt; the absence of fairness in applying the law because it is only applied to people of little influence; and the absence of the role model. "There is a great difference between a society that was influenced by Taha Hussein, Makram Ebeid and Umm Kolthoum and that influenced by Saad Al-Soghayar. There is a difference between a citizen who was brought up to fight the British occupation and that who was brought up to hate himself because he is not capable of fighting his internal as well as external enemies. When the citizen falls victim to despair, he is without an objective or a respectable culture. Thus he loses confidence in everybody, including himself," Abbas wrote in Al-Masry Al-Yom.
Khairi Ramadan wrote in the same newspaper that crimes are committed for trivial reasons and that a quick look at the crime pages in the newspapers would show that killing has become a daily practice that could be ascribed to various reasons besides poverty.
He ruled out that the reason behind crimes is lack of security, but a change in the psychological state of the Egyptians towards random killing. Hatred is on the increase, and the will to get rid of life could push one towards killing others as well as committing suicide.
Thus, Ramadan concluded, we do not need a study conducted by psychologists and sociologists to study the problem, but, as we did with swine flu, we need to declare a state of emergency against violence which has become part of our behaviour.
Amani Sadek wrote that words like slaughter, killing, kidnapping, burglary and rape have recently penetrated our daily life causing fear that they could become the norm in our homes, streets, schools and relationships.
Sadek called on officials to stop showing violent movies on television and end the publishing of lurid stories in the press because they give detailed descriptions of crimes and explain to whoever wants to commit a crime the way of doing it and even how to escape punishment.
In her explanation of the causes of the problem, she wrote: "at a time of globalisation, satellite channels, cheap books and yellow press, children and youths are surrounded by foreign and Arab movies and series that contain scenes of killings, beatings, fires and other scenes that teach disrespect to parents. Youth, who spend long hours watching these scenes, are influenced by that kind of behaviour that is later reflected in their action. This happens especially in the absence of supervision and the diminishing role of the school in teaching good manners.
"These kinds of crimes emphasise that there is an imbalance in sentiments and relationships between people. Self-serving interests have become the only factor that controls relations," Sadek wrote in the weekly official newspaper Akhbar Al-Yom.
Abdallah Kamal looked at the phenomenon of killing and tried to point out who is responsible, the government or the media. He did not rule out that the phenomenon is on the increase. "The press used to publish crime news on the front page as an exception. Now the pages are full of these crimes," Kamal wrote in the weekly magazine Rose El-Youssef.
He partially ascribed the increase in the rate of social violence to the economic and social policies of the government. However, he pointed to the role of the media in growing social violence. In the quest of public interest, all newspapers report on crimes as a phenomenon. In most cases, the newspapers' coverage transfers the readers' interest in a crime of absolute vehemence to know more. Thus the newspapers that publish all the details about a crime, also start writing political and economic analyses of the crime in a way that root the idea that crime has become a phenomenon in society.