I was like those who drink paying no attention to the following day’s hangover… I travelled and didn’t take a book or laptop with me but totally forgot about that devil or mobile phone dwelling in my pocket… first, I flew from Cairo to Rome and then to Detroit in 13 hours in addition to more few hours I spent waiting and sitting in airports… then, I found that there were more 3 hours still to spend on the road from Detroit to Saint Louis in Michigan state… Once, I got the devil out, I found it indicating a new timing zone and switching to another telecom network… I also found a free Wifi service in the hotel, so I went on… as if I haven’t left my place or travelled at all.
That was too quick a jump for a man like me in his seventies… Thank God my hip or neck were not broken in such journey which lasted for 4 days starting from the time I arrived at my destination until I left… during that time, I attended an occasion that was so dear to my heart and which I declared about on Facebook… no need to mix here between advertisement and media in this space allocated for my article… as I find this space a part of my very existence after I had learnt from my friend Kamel Zoheiry – May he rest in peace – to write as if I will die tomorrow and to read as if I will live forever.
I have been following the visit of the International Monetary Fund delegation and read all I could of opinions and comments either with or against the loan with a question looking for an answer left in my mind… that is; how can we accept that bitter medication that may lead to hair fall, conceal our features and exhaust us, however it’s the only cure?... Those who had refused all prescriptions of the MIF before discovered that if we had put into action some of its economic reform and distributed the bill over the years, it would have been better than what we did when we let matters exacerbate until we had no way out but to accept the loan?
How can we apply reform plans while avoiding mass protests in streets, government institutions, schools, universities and other places like what happened before and was a threatening deterrent to any decision maker to finish his term and thank God it went OK and then those who succeed him shall bear the consequences of his bad deeds? No one; either those who agree to economic reform terms of the IMF’s prescriptions which were proved viable in some countries and others who disagree to them again due to the failed experiments in some other countries, has discussed the way to handle and face the reactions that can take effect in the sociological map, like what happened in January, 1977.
Yes, there are big differences between circumstances at that time and now… most important is the relation between the people and the regime… let us remember some slogans of January, 1977 uprising which went out spontaneously and reiterated by millions at that time… these slogans that reveal some reasons behind people’s refusal to that way of reform… the way of liberating prices and achieving balance between real cost of products and their selling prices, whether these products were electricity, water, transportation, educational services…etc. or anything else.
One of these slogans was: “he – meaning Sadat – dresses in the latest fashion while we sleep ten persons in a single room”… also “they eat meat and chicken while we got emaciated from eating beans”… then these slogans targeted certain names in particular like Sayed Marei’e and Jihan Sadat… people even shouted slogans that are odd to the common in the Egyptian street and public decency.
So I believe that the most important factor affecting reactions of the wide social masses that do not read for big strategic writers is how much people feel injustice that is connected to huge differences in the standards of livings between them and those who rule them and make decisions… Then comes corruption which became public and approved by and between regime heads and certain names that were and became well-known for everyone… while media used to depict the elegance of the president, show him wearing shorts and latest-fashion suits and smoke pipe… also lights were shed more on the role of Jihad Sadat who gave herself the title of the first lady… it was not possible for people in any way to accept easily the rising prices in food, water, fuel and others…
In the same time, marriage relations were conducted between the presidential palace with long-in-time feudal and capitalist families… also royalty percentage imposed on everything rose… in the middle of all this, it was not possible for people to stay silent when they woke up to find new rises imposed on their life and pockets suddenly.
As to our present-time situation, I believe that since the current regime has proved by real actions it is determined to be transparent and fight corruption… and that president Sisi gave an example of himself… so we no longer have a first lady going everywhere while ministers and military leaders stand before her… the president is no longer scheduled among the most elegant famous figures worldwide… in addition, the president has conceded half his possessions and salary to the state… also, slogans of building and development were translated into reality in the mega projects and in finding solutions for energy problems, slum areas and other achievements which were accomplished in really short time… so we no longer have reasons to take to the streets to protest.
Another factor I think will help alleviate the reactions and cut the road at those who fish in troubled waters to attack the regime and revenge; that is the factor of clarity and transparency which we have always called for regardless of our different political and thought ideologies… we have long said if decision makers revealed all about the current situation to the people and asked them to participate in taking responsibility, it would be the shortest way to accomplish the mission and would be easier for people to accept the harsh solution no matter bitter it is… people will bear the tough side-effects as long as they realize the solution is working on the long-run.
Despite all I have said above, the question still persists: how can we avoid the mass or limited public and social reactions to reform agenda without resorting to violence? Since it was proved that armies of central security recruits and other violent means have never stood in the face of mass uprisings… it was also proved that practice makes perfect.
Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar
Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar
This article was published in Almasry alyoum newspaper on August 17, 2016.
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