Watani Mail

15-12-2011 09:04 AM

Compiled by Victor Salama


Soaring prices

The winds of high prices are blowing all over our vital goods such as food, clothes, and housing. I propose that we all agree to stop buying—for one week, for instance—commodities whose prices have unjustifiably soared, such as oil, fats, ready-to-wear garments, soap, cement, or concrete. Consumer Protection societies have a role to play in promoting public awareness and drawing producers and traders’ attention to the fact that profiteering is, in the long run, not in their interest. Egyptians have a successful precedent with meat consumption, and it can be repeated. Let us remember: “Man does not live by bread alone.”

Tawfik Mikhail, Cairo


Mental restyling 

I believe that extremism, fanaticism, killing others, and unjustifiably wasting money and resources are without doubt the worst output produced by intellectual illiteracy. Under the name of jihad suicidal operations are conducted; under the name of religion modernisation and civilisation are rejected. Closed minds stress religiosity instead of religion; matters of dress and superficial rites take precedence over real piety. 

Since religion is such a vital component of our peoples’ lives, I believe we should care about educating them and making them more aware of all its aspects. The media ought to play a vital role in that. What would be the use of the modern press if it circulates cultural illiteracy instead of culture, or falsities instead of facts? The same applies to all the media.

Religious programmes should be used to promote a tolerant, understanding attitude instead of the shallow, outdated material they now promote. What we really need is a mental restyling.

Sameh Lotfy, Abu-Tig        


No one will escape 

The sectarian violence at Abu-Fana monastery in Minya, at the villages of Nazla and Tamiya in Fayoum, and the many other incidents all over Egypt should sound an alarm of a peril that threatens Egypt, its Copts, Muslims, and police. Egyptians, take note: no-one will escape unscathed.

Zakariya Atta, Fayoum    


Mother of the hero

Just as many other beautiful things, the palaces and modern statues which dotted our land in the past are swiftly disappearing. I was on a recent visit to the city of Assiut following many years of absence and was shocked to find that the statue of the Mother of the Hero has disappeared from the square that carried its name. The statue was made many years ago and depicted a mother from Upper Egypt presenting her son, the soldier, as a sacrifice for the nation. On plates of marble placed below, were listed the names of the hundreds of dead from Assiut in past wars. The names included, naturally, Christians alongside Muslims.

All the countries in the world care for their old buildings and statues as part of the national heritage. They should be kept and maintained not removed and forgotten.

Youssef Helmi, Paris


Dual standards

I recently read in one of our national papers that Qena governorate in Upper Egypt has completed a project to install central air conditioning units in the centuries-old mosque of al-Aref Billah Abdel-Rehim al-Qenawi, at the cost of a million Egyptian Pounds. On the other hand, I read in Watani that the security authorities had stopped the restoration works as well as religious services at St Mikhail Church at Ho village in Naga Hammadi, Qena, which was built of bricks and a wooden roof in 1934 and was never restored. Anba Kyrillos, bishop of Naga Hammadi, asked for a permit to demolish and rebuild the church, which serves a 20,000 strong congregation, but was only granted permission to rebuild a fencing wall on the east side of the church. “When we began the work we were under security supervision. Some cracks began to appear in the building, and we tried to repair them but the security forces stopped us. They later stopped us from holding any services in the church,” Anba Kyrillos said. I can appreciate what the governor did in case of Qenawi mosque but I would be more delighted if he did the same for the church.

Nabil Youssef, Cairo


Honey-Sweet memories

What is more beautiful than remembering the good old days, especially when the times are hard and one grows old? For the immigrant, the times are even harder; only one who is away from home for years on end can really know how hard. 

I wish I could wake up one day and find myself on a Cairo street, especially one in Shubra. I would see the ice-cream peddler with his famous whistle. As a child I used to ask to blow his whistle and drive his car, and he would laughingly agree. My parents would see me happily pushing the ice cream cart; they disapproved and would try to scare me of committing an accident, but I didn’t care; boys will always be boys.

Another peddler I used to love was the assaliya, the honey-sweets, seller. He would make his assaliya from pure molasses fresh on his cart, pulling and forming the viscous, ductile honey dough. Now assaliya and ice cream are produced in factories, and are almost non-existent on the streets.

Once I did come to Cairo for a visit, and so many of my Egyptian friends asked me to bring them some assaliya when I returned to Australia that I tried to board the plane with a load of the honey-sweets. The airline would not let me carry them unless I paid LE96 in excess baggage—which came to several times the price of the assaliya. So I had to leave most of it behind and be content with a few pieces for friends.

Nash’at Rushdy, Australia  


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