Have Egyptians Come to Hate Themselves?
Saturday, October 13,2007 21:44
By Mohammed Salah

Do Egyptians hate themselves? An Arab intellectual posed the question to a number of Egyptians, after all of them had spent time discussing about the situation in the country, the language of violence that has come to control behavior, and the tone of shouting that has become normal discourse. It"s no secret that a severe situation of tension is dominating segments of the Egyptian public, seeing any ordinary dispute between two people develop and turn into a fight, followed by a battle, gunfire, fires and wounded and injured - the news occupies prominent places on the front pages of local, Arab and international newspapers and on satellite news bulletins.

Perhaps a month doesn"t go by without such an incident taking place. Of course, if the two sides are Muslim and Christian "everything goes crazy"; everyone suddenly becomes concerned with events in a small village attached to a remote city in an Egyptian province, when the matter concerns a Christian converting to Islam, or vice versa, or an interfaith marriage. The issue then goes beyond feelings of protecting one"s religion to a desire to cause harm and destroy the other. Sometimes it goes as far as rejection or a desire to protest to some, to the point of bringing down the house upon those in it. It has become natural for the media to spend short periods of time on the clashes between two families, villages, tribes, or even cities, because the fight is between a Muslim and a Christian, and has occurred for whatever reason, as if people are waiting for the opportunity to hurt each other.

A few days ago it happened again, but in another way, in northern Sinai, as people were preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the October War of 1973. The peninsula was at the forefront of events, not in celebration of the important historical military occasion, but because a fight broke out between two tribes in the northern part of Sinai. It went as far as attacks on public facilities and burning the headquarters of the ruling party, and it appeared that people were more violent than the reason for the eruption of events. As usual, a fight between two people belonging to two different tribes evolved, as usual, to the point where everyone knew that these two people had fought. These people weren"t important, but their fight began a new chapter of hatred, or a way to let people in the peninsula to "let off" some of their anger, rejection, or rejection, which in the media and in politicians" meeting-places is called "tension." Thus, they appear to now hate each other, and unable to stand each other.

Even the current crisis of the Egyptian press isn"t limited to a political dispute between party and independent newspapers, which are talking about constraints that the press is resisting, pressure that journalists face, and prison terms for a number of journalists, and between the pan-Arab newspapers, where the majority of their workers believe that the violations and cursing that have taken place via the party and independent newspapers have wrongly taken advantage of the atmosphere of freedom. The dispute went further, and reached the point of a clash between the newspapers; the sides traded "bombs" of accusations of treason and working for a foreign power, and "bullets" of accusations of dissent and going to far when it comes to individual rights.

Why have journalists lost their minds and arrived at where they are today, which has made their cause more complicated and placed obstacles in the path of a solution? Journalists are a segment of Egyptian society and what happens in Egyptian newspapers today took place earlier, with the political parties. The beating taken by the Wafd Party only serves as a model that has been repeated, in different ways, and a disparate levels, in the Tagammo, and Nasserist parties. Thus, the tension in the world of politics in Egypt is not just among members of the ruling and opposition elites, and not between the ruling parties and opposition parties, or between government and party supporters and opponents to them.

The tension even covers those who belong to the same party or group, and it appears to be prevalent to see Egyptians come to hate even themselves, even if there are motives that stir these feelings of evil within them. The talk among the elite no longer focuses on accepting the other and holding dialogue with him; it"s about accepting one"s self and talking to it.

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