Friday,24 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1130, 10 - 16 January 2013
Friday,24 November, 2017
Issue 1130, 10 - 16 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Social media

Egyptian TV’s first political satirist spares no one

Bassem Youssef’s Al-Bernameg comedy show was the source of debate among Egyptians over the social networks last week. While many people say Youssef is making history by appearing in the first political satire show in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, others — mostly supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood — see in Al-Bernameg an example of the media spreading false information and distorting the facts.

Mohamed Ali believes that Youssef considers the first political comedy show in the Arabic language very important during this stage that the so-called Arab Spring is passing through.

“I think Bassem is sending a message to all Arab politicians that they are subject to criticism as long as they live in societies that believe in democracy,” he said.

Nahla Al-Hatim agreed with Ali saying Youssef’s show makes it clear to all Arab leaders “that they must stop playing God, and that the media will hold you accountable.” Al-Hatim added that Egypt should be the pioneer of political comedy for all Arabs.

Mahmoud Abdel-Rahman sees Al-Bernameg as an example of how the media manipulates the facts by taking things out of context. “I think Youssef does not know the ethics that all journalists and other people in the media follow. He takes our quotes and videos out of context to prove his point. We all have the idea that he hates President Morsi.”

Mustafa Hamed finds Youssef’s show “silly and uninformative”, saying that Youssef never said anything good the president has done and only focuses on putting the blame on Islamists.

Government reshuffle consolidates Morsi’s grip on power

Issandr Al-Amrani wrote in his blog The Arabist an analysis of President Mohamed Morsi’s recent government reshuffle:

Some notes about Egypt’s new cabinet seem in order. The shuffle had been expected but postponed several times, and despite Prime Minister Hisham Kandil’s pledge to make the shuffle a purely technocratic one, the presence of new Muslim Brotherhood figures in cabinet posts and the absence of any opposition politician suggests a consolidation of the Morsi administration’s grip on the government. For months, Brotherhood officials had complained of resistance in the administration, including from cabinet members. Of course, the previous cabinet had been appointed jointly by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Morsi — at the time a necessary compromise.

The official reason for the change stems from recent resignations by some ministers and the government’s need to address the perceived mishandling of the economic crisis facing the country. The following points are worth noting:

Kandil retained his position as expected, despite reports that Brotherhood strongman Khairat Al-Shater could be in line for the position. As I suspect another cabinet shuffle is likely after the upcoming parliamentary elections, Al-Shater could still come in at a later point — say the end of the Egyptian financial year in June. But he is also more valuable in the shadows of the Brotherhood, having re-asserted his authority in December as the key link between the group and their Salafi allies, on which the Brothers appear to increasingly rely, and as a potential kingmaker during the candidate selection process of the Freedom and Justice Party. The key latent tension between the Brotherhood and the presidency is in the Morsi-Shater relationship, with the latter’s seniority in the movement having been trumped by Morsi’s election. But Al-Shater’s control over both the MB and his links to the Salafis during the constitutional crisis (notably his role in mobilising them during Al-Ittihadiya protests) now boost his role.

The ousting of minister of finance Momtaz Al-Said is not surprising, considering his public statements often contradicted those of the administration. The choice of Al-Morsi Al-Said Hegazi as his replacement is somewhat puzzling considering the gravity of Egypt’s economic predicament.

With the conclusion of an IMF deal increasingly urgent, the government must now repair the damage done by Morsi with his late December policy reversal on the introduction of new revenue-raising taxes. Once again, the Brotherhood is going full steam ahead in trying to secure the deal, making a mockery of the president’s call for “social dialogue” on economic reform issues. There will not be any such dialogue worthy of the name. They will probably try to negotiate some changes in the steps they were going to take, and will probably benefit from the backing of the US at the IMF in allowing this, since Egypt’s macro-economic stability is a high priority in Washington (unlike, say, the constitution or human rights issues).

The minister of interior has been replaced — unsurprisingly after his forces’ scandalous failure to protect Brotherhood offices that were attacked and arsoned and his ministry’s general state of semi-rebellion. His replacement, however, is one of his deputies, showing that Morsi is not ready or interested to take on the Interior Ministry from the outside. General Mohamed Ibrahim was formerly in charge of prisons (hardly a ringing endorsement) and his appointment, I’m told, is seen as a failure among some in the Brotherhood. I can’t say I’m surprised that another police officer is taking the helm at Lazoughli, though.

Tweets

“It’s official — was easier and less stressful for me to walk around as a foreign woman in central Kabul than in Cairo.”

@Erin Cunningham

“Morsi doesn’t have to save the economy to survive. He just has to manage its decline.”

@Nervana Mahmoud

“We need another miracle like #Jan25 to save #Egypt from grim future in nutshell.”@Zeinobia

“Coptic Pope Tawadros’s Christmas message pretty unambiguous: Do not fear, do not be afraid, be reassured.”

@Carina Kamel

“Ok, so President #Morsi couldn’t be there. What abt PM Kandil? Very low level representation at Coptic Christmas Mass.”

@Rawya Rageh

“No civilian should be tried by military tribunal, especially in Egypt where revolution fought so hard to end 60 yrs of military rule.”

@Mona Eltahawy

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