8 March 2009
When will there be change?
Oppression and discrimination against Christians have become widespread in our region. In Iraq it resulted in a large-scale exodus of Iraqi Christians. In Egypt Copts are subjected to bouts of sectarian incidents and ongoing attacks in the media that harm them on both the material and moral levels. Yet the Egyptian Constitution and law stipulates the equality of all Egyptians, and Islamic texts include provisions of equality for all. Nonetheless, no equality exists on the ground. If the Constitutions and laws of Arab and Islamic States are in many cases unable to abolish discrimination against the other, what can be done? We need change that would work on public conscience and awareness if there is any hope for the aspired change.
Maher Wahba Ibrahim, Cairo
It begins at the Top
It has become an almost daily routine to read or see in the media about corrupt officials, abuse of power, illegal profits, seizure of public funds, and so on. If we are to fight corruption, it must begin at the top. Senior officials are role models for junior employees, and even for the broader public. Good role models can positively contribute to fighting corruption.
Youssef Helmy, Paris
Women, defend yourselves
The issue of sexual harassment on Egyptian streets has imposed itself upon the attention of all Egyptians; it is claimed that 80 per cent of women in Egypt are regularly subject to harassment. Combating the phenomenon is a long-term project that involves changing outlooks and attitudes. However, women today must be helped and equipped with the means to confront harassers. Zaqaziq, the capital town of the East Delta governorate of Sharqiya has been the scene of a recent experiment which I consider very positive. Women are being offered training in karate and self-defence to be able to confront any ugly situation on the street.
Zarif Kamel, Cairo
Not shoes, but minds
The Arab reaction to the shoe hurled at the US president by an Iraqi journalist was one of euphoria. Jokes, poems, opinion pieces, and applause were written in honour of the incident. A Saudi man offered to pay $10 million for the shoe. It was claimed that that shoe had restored the lost dignity of the Arabs.
I see the hurling of shoes at public figures as a manner of expressing indignity and wrath, not any different than hurling tomatoes or rotten eggs at officials. Yet people who resort to such a method of protest are never hailed as heroes, but as the indignant protestors that they are. It is time we realise that shoes do not buy dignity neither do they release from bondage. Our bondage as Arabs stems from our inability to think critically or to come to terms with modern-day cultures. If we are ever to command a memorable place on the global scene we ought to aspire to better information, education, and freedom of critical thinking. The Arabic progress needs not our shoes but our minds.
Sameh Lutfi, Sohag
We are living a life in which we talk too much, trying to search for solutions to our problems but, alas, in vain. Soaring prices are making more and more people destitute. We refuse to see the real reasons—and hence find real solutions—to the problem, merely laying the blame on the greed of merchants and the inadequate State control of the market. Many young people are unemployed. Again, we see nothing beyond the immediate problem, refusing to acknowledge the scarcity of skills required by the job market. Sectarian violence is never placed in its true perspective of rampant fanaticism and is relegated to a few individual disputes. The ugly truth is that, as long as we refuse to see the truth about our problems, we will never be able to solve them. Only if our eyes open to the truth can we adequately handle our suffering.
Romani Talaat, Assiut
A route map for Copts:
Watani lately printed an article by Magdy Khalil in which he called upon us Copts to draw a Route Map to guide us on the path towards solving our problems and allaying our grievances. My answer to Mr Khalil translates in just two words: voting cards. If every Copt took care to have a voting card once he or she is eligible to carry an identity card, we can be sure that we would be on our way to end the notorious discrimination practised against us. I hope we would all wake up to this simple but effective solution before it is too late. Rights are never granted, they are grasped.
Nagy Youaqim, Cairo