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Dirty Businessmen
Dirty Businessmen
Regardless of the verdict which will be issued by the Egyptian Criminal Court in the case of the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim, in which former police officer Muhsen Al-Sukkari is charged with executing the murder, and businessman Hisham
Monday, September 15,2008 10:33
by Mohammad Salah Dar Alhayat.com

Regardless of the verdict which will be issued by the Egyptian Criminal Court in the case of the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim, in which former police officer Muhsen Al-Sukkari is charged with executing the murder, and businessman Hisham Talaat Mustafa is charged with arranging it, the truth is that the image of Egyptian businessmen in general has been considerably damaged. Their reputation is at stake and, from now on, they should work on changing the impressions that have become rooted in people"s minds. Indeed, news stories about businessmen have moved from the business and politics pages to the crime and scandal pages. Pictures of businessmen are now published with them either behind bars and in court, or in cabarets and resorts. They are also portrayed among the ruling elite, seeking, as some believe, to obtain special favors or to cover up their violations of the law and perhaps of social norms and morality.


The alliance between money and politics has led the former to flourish and the latter, meaning real politics and politicians, to retreat. This has had a negative effect on the meaning of democracy, the idea of alternation of power, and people"s desperation of seeing political change that would reduce the pressure and tension, as well as give them hope for the future. All of these factors have made citizens who are concerned with politics believe that the increase in freedom and the widened margin of democracy have benefited businessmen who are close to those in power more than it has members of the opposition. It has given them new ways of cementing their influence, confronting their rivals, and settling accounts with their enemies or competitors. Racing to own newspapers and satellite stations, or using the power of advertising, are only examples of this. Films, television soap operas, satellite programs and independent or opposition newspapers have not created a new image for businessmen, even if they sometimes exaggerate for dramatic or even opportunistic purposes. However, it is the behavior and stupidity of some businessmen, their illicit activities and their pursuit of more wealth, power and influence that have established this image. It has reached the point that some businessmen, who are not involved in such unethical practices, have begun to believe that this is no longer their time, and that it has become the era of dirty businessmen, no longer allowing for clean businessmen such as themselves.


Some incidents involving businessmen that have taken place in Egypt in recent years have made ordinary people go beyond the phase of feeling unconcerned and move toward hatred. This raises fears that such passive hatred would turn into a type of behavior which some worry will be out of control, especially when one links between interfering in elections to benefit a certain businessman and secure him parliamentary immunity, and accusing that same man or others of being implicated in a corruption case or of evading the rights of the state or of citizens, not to mention criminal or moral cases. It is an atmosphere in which the image of indulgence and excessive spending by businessmen is coupled with that of a multitude of citizens whose greatest aspiration is to make a decent living. All this without mentioning the tragedies in which simple, ordinary people have fallen victim to the corruption, negligence or perversions of businessmen, whether we are talking about sunken ships, rotten food, harmful medical products, or insecticide that should protect crops but instead leads to people"s deaths.


None of this has anything to do with the case of the singer Tamim, as the rule is that the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty. Hisham Talaat Mustafa is in the hands of the Egyptian judiciary and he may still be found innocent. If he is, he should fix himself and his image, but that is something that concerns him. More importantly, the image that includes him and others who have come to be called "businessmen" has become uncomfortable and now includes many motives of suspicion and hatred. The government, its ruling party, civil society, factory and company owners, as well as the "kings of business", should hasten to clean up this image and get rid of its blemishes, or else everyone will lose, including the dirty businessmen themselves.



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