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“I Told My Son Sameh”

Date of publication: 23/05/2005

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Egypt is my perpetual pain that I carry with me wherever I go and pass it on to my children in our exile through constant reminiscing about it.
My young son Sameh- the fifth amongst the six brothers- once told me: “if I had a billion Dollars I would be able to resolve all of Egypt’s problems.” His mother was quick to agree with him but I said: if you had all the money in the world and taken it to Egypt to resolve its problems, you would fail. Poverty is not Egypt’s problem, it is despotism.
I told Sameh that the Egyptian despotism is the most ancient in the world. It started before the Pharaoh Mina to the era of Hosni Mubarak. No other nation has suffered from despotism like the Egyptians, and no other nation was able to reconciliate itself to it and produce and excel under its ruling like the Egyptians did. When Despotism was the common way of ruling in the ancient and medieval times and faced no opposition or protests, the Egyptians perfected their labors and contributions. The entire manpower of Egypt took part in this- laborers as well as creative minds- and that was the real source of Egyptian wealth.

I told Sameh that Egypt is not the gift of the Nile as the Nile runs through other countries that did not produce significant civilizations and hardly had any history. The history of man and civilization started in Egypt with the hard work of the Egyptians and guidance of Despotic Pharaohs at a time when despotism was accepted. At that time the Egyptians used to chant the love of the worshipped Pharaoh as he worked under the burning sun to produce a civilization that amazed all subsequent generations.

I said: “and so the ancient Egyptian era was over and Egypt came under the foreign colonization of the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Mamlouks and Ottomans. During two thousand years of foreign occupation, Egyptian civilization and contribution shrunk gradually until they have become a nil by the end of the Ottoman era. The reason for this deterioration is the fact that the despotic ruler was not Egyptian but a foreigner with a foreign army and language that have caused a chasm between the people and the rulers.
Egyptians then turned from creativity to mere performance of duties, mere imitation that soon came to a halt, backwardedness and waste whilst Europe was advancing and creating modern civilization on the basis of a new intellectual trend of Democracy and Human Rights. Western civilization led humanity to a new era: its materialistic component is the scientific advance that led to digital and information revolution, whilst its intellectual component is the culture of Human Rights, Democracy and religious tolerance.
The new era put Egypt in a crisis. Its political heritage is tied to an ancient despotic system of ruling that was no longer acceptable even though the new tyrants were Egyptians themselves.

The real wealth of Egypt - the creative minds and strong arms of Egyptians- failed to react with the modern pharaohs brought to rule by the army. Abdelnaser enjoyed a tremendous popularity, but his totalitarian approach was not in tune with the culture of our modern times and so led to the 1967 defeat causing a shock and a great wound in the Egyptian memory to date. The second pharaoh -Sadat- made some accomplishments at war and peace but he wasted them with the new constitution that appointed the President a pharaoh that could rule all his life, with absolute power and no accountability before anybody else as if he were a God. Then he encouraged religious extremism and let it take control over education and religious life leading Egypt to a fall between military despotism and religious political totalitarianism. Then he crowned the tragedy by appointing Hosni Mubarak as his successor who ended up ruling Egypt for a quarter of a century and it is the worst period ever of Egyptian history during which Egyptian people suffered an unprecedented humiliation inside and outside Egypt.
Egyptians were shocked after the defeat of Abdul Naser and yearned for freedom at the time of Sadat but were shocked once more after his comic revolution of 5th September when he detained the real figures of the revolution and ended up being assassinated a month later. Hosni Mubarak did not unfortunately learn the lesson even though he witnessed the assassination personally and declined the opportunity to make history by being the first pharaoh to respond to the criteria of modern times and grant his country –the mother of civilizations- the Democracy it deserved.

In the beginning of his ruling, departed author Mohamed Khaled continuously urged Mubarak to implement democracy and when he gave up on him he said: “enjoy what is bad because the worst is on its way” and thus his prophesy became true. We presently live the worst experience with a third class dictator at the end of his life and era, but nevertheless willful against the interests of his time, people, religion, country and nation for the sake of protecting himself from being questioned about what he had committed against Egypt and its people and wealth. He will, God willing, be the last dictator in the history of Egypt who will hold on to power until he finds his end in a way similar to that of Sadat or Saddam.

My son Sameh turned around looking for an answer to his question and I said: imagine you had gone to Egypt carrying all that money for investment, imagine what will happen? They might make a false accusation against you at the airport and take it away from you in the same way they did with the Egyptian returning from Iraq with a large amount of dollars that was confiscated despite any laws or rights. Sameh then said: “I will transfer the amount electronically to the bank”, I said “have you forgotten the list of “wanted” and that you are my son?” He said: “suppose I am somebody else and have this money to invest for the benefit of my country and to save people from poverty!” I said: “if you distribute the money they will arrest you with any charge according to the emergency law and confiscate your money to share amongst themselves.”
Sameh said: “I will tell them that I want to make projects that will benefit the country.” I said: “if you decide to make projects you will find the government boards interfere in everything positively and negatively at the same time, and the person in charge is a humble civil servant under the control of some other senior or minor civil servant in every administration or body, from alimentation to health to police to ports to agriculture to investment to tourism to local administration etc. They will make you hate Egypt and want to run away from it. This would be the case if your project is a small one within the city periphery. But if you wanted to reinstate the desert into green land, routine will still haunt you, but corruption will only kick in if you succeed to turn it green. You will be surprised that a group of senior minor army generals or police officers have formed a certain union that occupies your land and removes its ownership from you. Or perhaps another group of minor senior officials in agriculture or tourism get together to draw an authenticated map to prove that the patch reinstated falls under the army or tourism department.
If your project is of a large scale, however, you must get a partner that is well backed from the authorities. This partner will come according to the size of the project and investment; if it’s worth millions then you could opt for the son of a minister, but if it was higher than millions, then you could knock on the royal door and meet up with the agents of the Pharaoh. This eventually still does not guarantee you anything because the competition is so fierce and everybody tries to get in it. Most of these competitors control the money of the banks originally owned by Egyptians, but if ever things took a bad turn they would just run away with it all.

Anyway my son- I am still addressing Sameh- the poor Egyptians for whom you are dreaming will not gain anything from that money, just like they never got their hands on the billions donated to them, or raised from selling the public sector that was supposed to be owned by them. You will only gain sorrow, detention or salvation if you decide to run away.

Sameh then said: “so what does Egypt really need?” I said: “a real reform protected by the Egyptian army and established by a temporary government headed by a member of the Egyptian Judiciary system that will carry out complete legislative reforms in the constitution and all other legislations, and on whose basis the first non-central, democratic Egyptian state will be set up as per the decrees of Human Rights which- to me- are the same as the principles of true Islamic Sharia. In this democratic state there will be separation between the three authorities: Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. Each will be a guard to the other under a transparent Media that is free from any governmental influence and under the umbrella of a civil society that is powerful with its local governments that organizes the human resources to work in an environment of freedom and security, and under the existence of real political parties that urges the three powers to compete for the service of ordinary civilians who own the right to choose and vote in transparent glass boxes in genuine elections for which we call the whole world to oversee their authenticity, transparency and genuineness, and on whose basis power will alternate with ease and flexibility and no head of state, governor, member of parliament or local council will be elected more than twice to ensure every Egyptian, whether Muslim or Coptic, male or female, gets an equal opportunity in their country where the sole parameter for ruling will be aptitude and votes.

If this happens, and I am still addressing my son Sameh, Egypt will not be in need of the billions wished for by you and your mother. Egypt’s precious manpower will return from Eastern and Western exiles to produce a modern civilization that will amaze the world just like our forefathers did. Everything will change to the better once the advocates of despotism are removed and replaced by people of aptitude- the real makers of civilization. As long as despotism is removed, its companions of corruption, poverty, inadequacy, extremism, torture, wrongdoing and humiliation will depart as well.

Finally, Sameh said: “all of this is linked to the departing of one single individual?” I said: “this is half the solution. The other half is the genuine reform legislatively, politically, religiously, culturally, economically and socially. Otherwise, if another despotic ruler comes to power it will all go in vain, and you will be, my son, in need of other dreams that will not come true!!”

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