On to a religious-based State
What is happening in Egypt now appears to strongly imply that the country has become a semi religious-based state. One need only observe the recent highly-publicised court cases which involve religious identity to confirm that we are on the road to become a full-fledged religious State. Such cases involve Christians who had converted to Islam and are now being denied the right to revert to their original Christianity, teenagers who are forced to become Muslims because their father converted to Islam, and the notorious case in which a judge rejected the testimony of a witness because he was Christian. In all these cases, there is an attempt to uphold sharia or Islamic legal code instead of civil law. The argument usually used is that the second article in the Constitution stipulates that Islam is the religion of the State, and ++sharia++ the main source of legislation. So what are we to expect next? Court sentences of cutting thieves’ hands, floggings, or public executions? All based on sharia? We are not against religion, but against the exploitation of religion and using it as a stumbling block in the face of any progress. Let religion be the personal relation that it is between a human being and his God, and let civil law govern us.
Essam Nessim, Cairo
The devaluation of values
Principles, values, and morals—even quality of goods—appear to be taking a downward spiral in Egypt. We have lost almost everything beautiful around us. Even the 30-match box of safety matches has been rendered so safe that only two are guaranteed to go alight. The other matches are non-inflammable. Indecent language has become the norm on TV. Children swear and use insults, and you discover they learnt them through TV. I wish our schools would go back to teaching children the rudiments of courtesy, the two expressions “Thank you” and “I’m sorry”.
Mina Youssef, Giza
Like a tourist
Terrorist attacks are handled—and rightly so—very severely by the State. When a tourist bus is attacked, the attackers are found, tried, and penalised—in many cases condemned to death. But when an attack takes place against a Coptic church or Coptic-owned houses, shops, or cars, no one moves to condemn the event, as if these deeds were lawful. Some of the attackers, and an equal or greater number of Copts, are detained until the Copts acquiesce to signing a reconciliation document. Copts are thus deprived of the most basic human justice; they are not even accorded the same level of care given to foreigners.
Maher Wahba, Minya
In order to obscure the real meaning of a word, we may say it in a nicer way or exchange it with a more agreeable term. We say “moving prices” instead of “rising prices”, “opening”—as in the Arab opening or conquest of countries—instead of “invasion”, “revolution” instead of “coup d’état”. This is all so misleading, and is an ongoing practice in hypocrisy. When will we go back to calling things by their real names?
Bishoi Youssef, Giza
We need positive participation
Assuit governorate participated in the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and that was a great step forward. But, it was a shock to know that all who participated did nothing; they just went and took part without achieving any positive results. They voiced strong impressive slogans which can never satisfy the hunger of the poor. We need positive, pro-active and practical participation. We need to teach our youth to contribute and give, not to utter useless slogans.
Ezzat Aziz, Assuit
Bread by force
A subsidised loaf of bread sells for 5PT whereas an unsubsidised loaf sells for 25PT or 30PT. So it is no surprise that long bread lines pile up in front of bakeries which sell subsidised bread, but even this is no guarantee that everyone gets a fair share. More often than not the bakery announces that there is no more bread before all have been served, and many go home empty-handed. This at a time when rumours abound that these bakeries sell part of their quotas of subsidised wheat on the free market instead of using it all to produce bread. I propose that these bakeries should be obliged to operate 24 hours a day and that the armed forces should control the process to guarantee that the subsidy is well-spent. After all bread is a strategic commodity for all families.
Attiya Amir, Sohag