Viewpoints from Tanta

Written by Menna Elkhateeb on Sunday, 09 March 2014. Posted in Egypt

Why do they think, people believe all that?

I'm sorry for not being that optimistic girl anymore I once used to be. Nothing in Egypt can make me optimistic any longer - and not only me: A lot of my friends are sad as well: My Facebook wall is full of posts about leaving Egypt and searching for means and opportunities to travel abroad.

What happened? Why do I, who was so proud of her country, feel that way?



I don't like that all the mainstream media is talking about al-Sisi and declare him next president of Egypt. I don't like journalists and tv-presenters, who clap their hands like clowns to the people who are in charge of the government.       I get sick of hearing how they love al-Sisi, what a great and beautiful man he is, that he is the only hero on earth and that he alone will rescue Egypt from all its problems and save us from terrorism. Maybe al-Sisi is a good man indeed, but so far I haven't seen that he has done anything - except from removing former president Morsi. And the constant propaganda in all media channels makes me suspicious. Even more so, as the overall image you get from the government, if you look at it closely, is too ambiguous to trust in.

The famous Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef, for example, has had his tv-show “al Barnameg” since the beginning of the revolution.
In this show he joked about everything in Egyptian politics, and during the days of the Muslim Brothers he was making jokes about Morsi, and no one did anything to him. But now, after the first episode of the new season of his show, he made fun of al-Sisi and the tv-presenters who keep describing al-Sisi as the super hero of the nation - and his show was banned. Fortunately another tv-channel bought his program and now he is aired every Friday again as usual and he continues to make fun of politics, even about al-Sisi. But for how long?

Let me give you another example: A couple of weeks ago, a group of young people went to Sinai to climb the mountain of Saint Catherine.
The group was caught in a severe snowstorm and got lost. People, who live in the area, asked the military for help and asked to send helicopters to search for and rescue these young people. The military answered that if these guys had been foreigners, they would have sent helicopters right away. But as they were Egyptians, they would have to get through the routine of signing papers first to get the approval to send the helicopters - and that would take some days.
The young people were stuck on the top of the mountain. They all died. Only after the media got to know that, al-Sisi sent the helicopters to get the dead bodies and handed them over to the parents. And what happened then? Instead of criticizing the military for its delay, the media thanked and praised al-Sisi for his role in this drama. It was a good thing, that the media put pressure on the military. But why this praise afterwards? Why not just analyze the events and ask for a fast improvement of rescue procedures?

And here is still another example:
Two weeks ago the chief army engineer unveiled that a doctor from the military had invented an antenna-like device that would detect and cure AIDS, hepatitis and other viruses without having to take blood tests from the patient. This is really absurd! Why do these guys think that we, the Egyptian people, are that naive? And why are there journalists, who applaud such an invention?

The problem is that many poor, illiterate people in Egypt easily believe all that propaganda.
And still too many Egyptians seem to love to admire a ruler as if he was a god or a pharao and pray to him. Some people even made small al-Sisi-statues and sold them at Tahrir Square on the 25th of January, the anniversary of our revolution. How thoughtless can that be?

I know, anyone who publicly voices his or her criticism against the government or the military, especially against al-Sisi, is arrested or forced to shut up.
That scares me. And anyone who will make the sign of "Rabaa", that yellow four-finger-sign of the Muslim Brothers, will be arrested instantly. That scares me as well. I deeply dislike the Muslim Brothers too and am relieved that they are removed from power. But: Is that the freedom people wanted and fought for?

Unfortunately there is no progress in Egypt.
There are many problems. Just look at the situation at our schools and universities: After the midterm vacation they should have started in February. The government, however, postponed the start to the 8th of March because there is too much trouble at the universities. Students come in groups and sometimes throw stones at the faculty buildings. The students are filled with angry powers and provoke fights with the security guards whenever they can. And when the police or the military arrive they throw stones at them as well. And of course, the police and military fight back with tear gas.

And every day a bomb explodes in different places near police stations.
In Tanta a lot of police cars were burnt. The police says, that those, who set the cars on fire and placed the bombs were Muslim Brothers. As a consequence lots of Muslim Brothers are arrested, even at night at their homes, and sent to prison, sometimes even though there are no charges against them. They are arrested only because they belong to the Muslim Brotherhood. Sure, it’s forbidden nowadays to be a Muslim Brother. If you are a Muslim Brother, you are labelled a terrorist.
Will this improve our situation? Or will the Muslim Brothers, now that they are oppressed again, become attractive again - maybe even for people, who aren't really religious, but frustrated and disappointed and seek means of opposition?

I don’t even want to imagine how bad our image is right now, how to the world out there sees us.
I feel ashamed of what is going on in Egypt, and I feel sad when I hear from friends in different countries that their governments have issued travel warnings for Egypt. I feel so sad, but what can I do? I feel that I can’t do anything except being good girl, who prays for her country and concentrates on her work and her life. 

But stop! I forgot to talk about the electricity cuts:

Every day the electricity is off for one hour or more.

And that was happening in the days of Morsi.

And it stopped after he was gone.

Now it’s back.

Cut off again.


About the Author

Menna Elkhateeb

Menna Elkhateeb

I met Menna Elkhateeb a couple of years ago at an innovation fair in front of the Mugamma,  Egypt's kafkaesque government office complex located on the South side of the Tahrir Square in Cairo. Together with some colleagues Menna presented a 3-D-computermodel of the human dental arches. A model, that was designed to improve the work of future dentists. This model caught my eye - Menna and I started to talk. And we became friends. Menna works on her Master's degree in computer science and lives in Tanta, a bustling town between Cairo and Alexandria, that is famous for its sweets and its grand mosque. Whenever I go to Egypt I travel to Tanta to visit Menna and to exchange thoughts and ideas. I love Menna's wit, her sharp mind and her outspokenness. I am happy, she is one of the explorers who venture to go beyond the veils.