A country ‘on hold’

Upon phoning a friend or relative who is busy, you are likely to be put “on hold” until they answer the call. During that time, the recipient of the call will finish whatever business they may be doing, often leaving you with music to entertain your ears.

There is a basic problem with this kind of wait: You never know what the person you called is really up to. At the same time you are unable to do anything until the conversation resumes.

All you can do is wait.

This dliemma best describes Egypt’s current situation, particularly the relationship between the regime and the people.

Nobody knows what is going on in our closed ruling circles these days, or what our politicians have planned for the post-Mubarak era. All we ever hear are fiery condemnations against people scrambling to succeed President Mubarak, as though he were still in his youth.

The entire country is detached from its ruling elite–who themselves have become increasingly disconnected from the regime they are supposed to lead. As a result, all our problems are put on hold as we wait indefinitely for solutions. We are all required to do nothing but linger passively, as hanging up is not an option.

Curiously enough, asking officials about their plans for the next year or even month usually elicits the same response: that they take every day as it comes. They do not plan ahead. Like taxi drivers, the flow of traffic determines how much money they make.

Thousands of ambitious projects, many unrelated to politics, have been thwarted for the simple reason that they were proposed from the other side of the line–from those who are put “on hold”. So too have the grievances of many ordinary Egyptians been treated.

The government has turned a blind eye to crimes of torture and assault. Dozens of young men have died in alleged incidents of torture, yet not a single case has been publicly condemned by the president nor has he called for the rule of law and human dignity to be upheld.

After tensions recently mounted between lawyers and judges, the government responded with a quick fix rather than addressing the roots of the problem.

No effort has been made to nip sectarian tensions at the bud. Instead, the regime has encouraged hasty reconciliations to patch up the issue–which have had the opposite effect of aggravating Muslim-Christian relations.

Serious solutions to Egypt’s problems are never heard, because they come from the muzzled side of the line. In the meantime, all we can do is wait.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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