Needless to say
Sir-- Al-Ahram Weekly should have been more informative with its coverage of the pig culling ('Back to square one' 30 April-6 May). Your newspaper did not reveal, for example, that there is no evidence that a virus, as it is now known, is transferable from pigs to humans. There has so far been only human to human transfer. Furthermore, both the UN and the WHO called the decision of the Egyptian government a mistake.
It is an illogical and baseless move. It isn't intended to prevent the transfer of the flu, since transfer is not based on pigs, but merely to placate the unfounded concern of uneducated and misinformed masses for the sake of social stability. It will have no effect whatsoever in protecting Egyptians from the swine flu but will ruin the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Egyptian farmers who will not be compensated by the government for the seizure of their property. Again, no international health organisation has endorsed the move, and this move even prompted the WHO to change the name of the flu virus. That the move will overwhelmingly impact one sectarian group is not lost on observers in the West. This decision completely undermines the credibility of the Egyptian government and respect for Egypt abroad.
Out of Luxor
Sir-- I am an English lady living in Luxor. I am semi-retired and live alone and bought a flat with a view to spending my latter years in it. I have made many improvements, putting money into the local community in the process, and with a non-stop selection of English visitors, bringing a good deal of money into Egypt, to say nothing of my initial outlay.
I am now horrified to find that my building is to be demolished as part of the "improvement" plan to widen the Corniche. I have met with the governor of Luxor and explained that my building is behind the line of widening, but it seems he is insistent that it is demolished nonetheless. I have also written to UNESCO who are funding the project.
In most cases one would receive appropriate recompense but I find that I will receive only a fraction of my initial outlay, despite the fact that this building is a prime piece of real estate. I find this unacceptable and indeed it will leave me in considerable difficulty financially. It seems that in effect the Egyptian government is "stealing" my money and forcing me out of Egypt, when I have brought so much funding into the country.
I am well aware that there are hundreds of other Egyptian people who are similarly losing their homes at the whim of the governor and I find it extraordinary that nobody in authority is bothered about this situation and the fact that people's lives are being totally wrecked. I also find it strange at a time of world recession, when people are not travelling so much, that Luxor is being completely re-modelled in the name of tourism.
I believe there are similar plans for the Egyptian West Bank, where there are many English and European land and property owners and I wonder if the Egyptian government is happy to see us all, together with our input into the economy, forced out of Egypt.
Surely if you are taking people's property away, when they have brought foreign money in to pay for this, they must be compensated appropriately.
Not to be touched
Sir-- Your piece 'Above ground, and below' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 16-22 April) is very interesting. However, you must understand what God states in the book of the prophet Jeremiah, that Jerusalem cannot be touched by any man, lest he be damaged if he tries to divide it. Once Arabs understand this then peace could be achieved and both peoples could live in harmony. Whether the Israeli government in power at the time accepts or not the division of Jerusalem, it would never happen.
Sir-- Another remarkable Egyptian technological innovation: preventing flu H1N1 by culling pigs -- about as effective as sticking one's head in the sand.