Watch till you drop
Doaa El-Bey reveals what could be behind the release of the Lockerbie bomb suspect, and worries about Egyptian TV bursting at the seams from the deluge of Ramadan soap operas
Newspapers marked the advent of Ramadan by looking at the increase in prices especially that of meat, the availability of Ramadan- related commodities, traffic, and the charitable activities held in the holy month like Mawaed Al-Rahman (public meals served to the poor). The huge number of TV serials being shown in Ramadan is annoying many writers especially when the ads concerning these serials are still filling whole pages in many official as well as independent newspapers.
Abbas El-Tarabili welcomed Ramadan which he called the month of eating rather than the month of fasting and worshipping God as it is supposed to be. He recounted the good old days when people used to wait for the firing of the madfaa, or the cannon, that announces Iftar time and for the drum of the mesaharati who announces Sohour.
El-Tarabili praised one habit that all Egyptians have till now: having Iftar with their families on the first day of Ramadan. However, families still prepare huge amounts of food that far exceed their needs.
"And, as soon as they finish their Iftar, they rush to watch the malady of our age, the TV serials, while savouring the famous Ramadan sweets, especially konafa and qatayef. These serials detract from praying in the mosques as they used to do," El-Tarabili wrote in the daily Al-Wafd, the mouthpiece of the opposition Wafd Party.
He asked why television does not show us programmes about famous mosques through which the audience could visit a mosque every day and listen to its history and the famous sheikhs who recited verses from the Quran or delivered sermons from it.
Ahmed Abdel-Salam wrote in the official weekly Akhbar Al-Yom that without doubt the advent of Ramadan makes everybody happy. However, he pointed to the fact that the holy month is supposed to give the digestive system a rest. Thus it is designed to cure the body from diseases and purify blood from cholesterol and fats.
But, in reality, the poor eating habits and the noticeable increase in consumption of food in Ramadan have repercussions on the digestive system. As a result, Abdel-Salam called for moderation and self-control in eating in Ramadan in line with the Prophet Mohamed's teachings in filling one-third of the stomach with food, another with water and keeping the third part empty in order to be able to breath.
Mohamed El-Shamaa wondered at the number of TV serials being shown during the holy month and at the slogan "with us from Iftar to Sohour" that all the channels seem to raise. He underlined that all the channels aim to attract as much advertisement as possible.
Commenting on the phenomenon of publishing whole pages in the newspapers about the programmes of satellite channels during Ramadan, El-Shamaa wrote that it was a good sign as it showed that the printed media was very effective in attracting TV audiences. Meantime, it is a sad phenomenon as it reflects the channels' resolve to magnetise the audience in front of the TV, something that has a devastating impact on productivity during the holy month.
"One needs an unpaid leave to be able to watch just 50 per cent of the unbelievable number of TV shows during Ramadan," El-Shamaa wrote in the official daily Al-Akhbar.
Fekri, who prefers to write only his first name, wrote that audiences are enjoying a heavy meal of TV serials that will make them stick to the TV. It is a festival of over 25 serials immediately after Iftar.
Fekri added in the official daily Al-Gomhuriya that the audience will simply move by remote control from the social to the political and historic serials or to various light shows on terrestrial and satellite channels.
"Dear spectator, you are glued to the TV. There is no escape. Forget all about sleep. Then you may have a chance to perform fagr [dawn] prayers," Fekri wrote.
Unlike previous years, certain precautions are needed to be taken by the organisers of Ramadan's Mawaed Al-Rahman in order to protect the public from swine flu. The independent daily Al-Masry Al-Yom shed light on these procedures, namely choosing well ventilated areas, using disposable cutleries, regularly cleaning and sanitising chairs and tables and putting lots of lemon juice on the food provided.
Al-Gomhuriya hailed the decision by Beni Sweif's governor to cancel all Iftar parties as the most important decision taken regarding Ramadan. Instead, the money will be used to improve hospitals responsible for treating swine flu cases.
The 34 fishermen who returned from Somalia after being held hostage by pirates in the Somali coast since April were welcomed by their families, friends, and most newspapers this week. The editorial of the official daily Al-Ahram hailed President Hosni Mubarak's decision to build a new fishing port in Ezbet Al-Borg in Damietta as a positive step in resolving the fishermen's problems. However, the edit focussed on the basic issue which is providing work for the fishermen and ensuring their safety when they are on fishing trips away from home.
Most probably, the edit added, the government will want to provide creative projects for the fishermen. It could also encourage banks to finance some projects for these people who have the courage and the will to work. "Fishermen have the legal right to fish in international waters. The government has to make a bigger effort to protect them on their fishing trips and protect them from piracy in the framework of coordinated international arrangements," the edit read.
The issue of using sewerage water to irrigate vegetable and fruit crops was raised again this week by Al-Masry Al-Yom which published a two-page feature about its impact on the health of the Egyptian. The newspaper quoted experts who confirmed that typhoid, para-typhoid, cholera, mental retardation and renal and liver failure are some of the illnesses that could be caused as a result of using sewer water because it contains poisonous minerals like mercury and lead that enter fruits and vegetables. Washing will not get rid of these minerals.