|Only in Egypt|
The hovering helicopter at the military-civilian “handover” ceremony displaying a massive Egyptian flag was a poignant symbol of the charade of the “revolutionary” events in Egypt over the past 18 months. The faded, heavily ripped and unevenly positioned flag fluttered over a high command trying to look serious while squinting through the desert sun. The handover event, which commenced suitably late, was staged on a cleanly paved flat of asphalt with fancy white lines in the middle of absolutely nowhere (Camp Huckstep (aka Hikstep, Hike-Step), a World War II era detention camp, cum prison for Islamists, cum staging ground for the "big day"). It was as convincing in projecting order as a decorative traffic light on a Cairo street. First, a rambling speech about the grand achievements of the “transition” period was supported by an amateur, and nearly totally irrelevant montage on Egyptian television that looked to have been pieced together by a failing first year media studies student, or possibly someone trying to create a Pink Floydian video to capture the surreal moment. Next, the supreme commander of the armed forces (who somehow remains the supreme commander notwithstanding transferring authority) went through another long-winded speech about the military’s great achievements. Then poor Morsi took the stage, doing his best to seem relevant, while the blank faces of the attending big wigs stared indifferently into the distance. Only Ganzo’s disgusted and impatient face seemed to exhibit any real feeling.
The event came after a series of similarly half-assed swearing in ceremonies, one before the ostentatious, faux-Pharaonic constitutional court (with the high court judges resplendent in newly tailored robes with colors and bows that did not quite look credible, but almost came across as serious), the other an Obama-inspired moment at Cairo University, where final exams were summarily delayed and the establishment crowd tried to look adult-like on cushy seats, as Morsi went through another monotonous, carefully censored monologue that said nothing offensive.
While all of this was a bit sad and plainly fake, it was also slightly amusing and in a way comforting. For as dire as it might seem to be under continued military rule, and as odious a prospect of life under austere Islamism is, that unintentionally tattered Egyptian flag and the shambolic swearing-in ceremonies are a reassurance that Egypt will not easily succumb to any form of organized rule. Egypt is the land where nothing is what it seems, where rules are there to be broken, where cues are only for the suckers, where it is fine to bow in prayer after scoring a goal with a handball, and where all is ma’alesh, inshallah and bokra.
Given the circumstances, thank goodness.
|Between "b" khafeef and "b" ta2eel|