Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-

Ahram Weekly

If you can’t do the job, resign

Remember, O history, that our merciless enemy, an enemy with no regard for the lives of women or children, at 8am on Saturday, 17 November, committed yet another atrocity that shook the world. Our enemy repeated what it did 42 years ago, when it shelled the Bahr Al-Baqar School in Egypt, but this time the enemy didn’t send its Phantom planes to bomb us. It used home-made Egyptian skills.
Remember, O history, the ill-fated day on which our ungodly and unfeeling enemy attacked a school bus carrying 67 children, killing most and injuring others. The enemy’s hideous crime took place at the Mandara Semaphore in Manfalout, in Assiut governorate.
Within seconds, we lost 51 lives, with more in critical conditions.
This editorial was supposed to be about Gaza. Then the news came in like a thunderbolt of an attack that was indescribable in its brutality. Israel, with all its venom and firepower, unleashes the Pillar of Cloud Operation against Gaza, and killed 39 in the first wave of attack, whereas we, with unsurpassable efficiency, annihilated 51 in mere seconds. How ironic!
The semaphore operator was asleep when the train passed, and he ran away right after the incident.
Gnash your teeth and plug your ears, so as not to hear the screams of frightened children, so as not to hear the sound of cold metal against metal, or bone and torn flesh. Close your eyes, so as not to see the images of notebooks, the drawings of ducks and cats on their covers, the shirts and sneakers smeared with blood and oil and scattered on the railway, amid the twisted metal. Numb your brain so as not to think of the beautiful girl who kissed her mother goodbye, holding tight to her bag, her lunch inside, before climbing into the bus. The mother didn’t know that this would be the last kiss.
Assiut governorate, Dar Heraa School: this was your lesson, pure and simple. The worst enemy we ever encountered is Egyptian. This is the brutal enemy that is hell bent on exterminating us. The Egyptians are the worst enemy of Egyptians, the most murderous, and the most efficient killers. This is the lesson we are reminded of every few days.
Why do we keep killing our people non-stop? What Israel couldn’t do, we could. We managed to pull off two major accidents within one week, and there is more — no doubt — to follow.
The president, prime minister, railway chief and transportation minister all are to blame. They are all culprits and must be held accountable. The revolution we’ve had was against this type of accident, and against officials who pass the buck.
But how can you prevent the next Sayed Gabbara from falling asleep while the train is passing?
You can let heads roll. But how can you instil a sense of responsibility and civility into people?
Here is a question for our dear preachers. Since our people are so religious that they can only listen to you, and since you are convinced that the time is right to implement Sharia with all its rulings, why don’t you educate the people while you’re at it? Why don’t you speak to them of the merits of a job well done?
Why don’t you teach them how to remove harmful obstructions from roads? Why don’t you tell them to stop blocking traffic? Why don’t you teach them how to drive; that running a red light is not a virtue? Why don’t you teach them to be kind to animals; inform them, for example, that blinding donkeys and drowning cats are acts of cruelty?
It is all well and good talking about the importance of the niqab and the loveliness of the higab. You keep urging men to let their beards grow, shorten their robes, and marry four women, but there are other things you can also speak about.
We need, for example, to teach children, as young as those who were mutilated by the bus accident, to take pride in their work. The nation has grown rusty in its mind, lazy in its attitude, and fatalistic in its thinking. We pray for the children who died to find the grace of God in a world that is better than this one. We pray for their families to have the strength to cope with their pain and sorrow. But all the words of consolation, all the vengeance we may bring upon officials, are not enough.
Egypt, after the revolution, deserves first class statesmen and top-notch professionals to steer it to safe shores. Egypt needs to confront the problems that Hosni Mubarak left behind, and which multiplied after the revolution.
Some people felt optimistic with the Renaissance Project propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood to get the country out of the current crisis. But weeks and months have passed and we are still unable to see this project materialise, or even take shape. Was it just a figment of imagination, a phantom that swirled in the minds of those who spoke about it?
The current government of Egypt has no reconstruction plans capable of reviving the hopes of its people. And the worst part is that its members are apparently incapable of implementing such plans. The government and its ministers are barely qualified for the job.
Meanwhile, Egypt is turning into a failed state, a state that is incapable of tending to the needs of its own people and meeting their aspirations. The very idea of legitimate authority is eroding, as the government fails to provide public services in any acceptable way.
The government’s handling of the recent strike of the Metro workers is a case in point. The Metro is Cairo’s lifeline. Some would say that it is the only achievement of Mubarak’s 30 years in power. Even when the Metro is working, traffic in Cairo is still a mess. So what do we do when it stops working?
The crisis began when the workers warned that they would stage a strike in one week. Their threat was conveniently ignored by the government although their demands were mostly of an administrative and not financial in nature. Our officials can be excused when they are faced with financial demands beyond their budgets, but this was not the case. Once the strike went into effect, the government panicked and fired the Metro chief, a man who had been showered with praise on previous occasions. In a nutshell, its reaction was sluggish, inept and confusing.
The Metro crisis was typical. The government is clearly incapable of figuring out solutions or pressing for action on any real issue, although it is prone to acting tough on stuff that doesn’t matter, such as early closure of shops. Security is still lacking in our streets. Prices are spiralling out of control. And public services are worsening on all fronts. And yet, the only thing the government seems to be interested in is getting shops to close early.
The train accident brings to mind the Mubarak era. And the oil spill that drifted down the Nile for hundreds of miles is another sign of the inability of the Kandil government to take action, or responsibility. You’d think that the prime minister, being a former water resources minister, could handle an oil spill, but apparently this is too much to ask.
No one questions the patriotism of the current government. But patriotic people should put the nation’s interests above their own. Patriotic people should resign when they fail to do their job.

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