Sad for my country

Mohamed Abul Ghar
Monday 14 Mar 2016

There were two times when I felt desperate to save my country from falling into the abyss. The first was in June 1967, after the grave defeat that killed my country and with it tens of thousands of its soldiers and officers.

Back then I was so distressed that I saw no hope whatsoever and I decided to just take off. I could have gone anywhere in the world but I was too scared for Egypt and I still felt I could not simply be too far away. I chose to drop the offers made for me to go to the US and I chose to opt for northern Europe – thinking I would still be close home.

At the time, we had none of the communication accessibility offered by the internet today. I had to go to the city's public library to read a four-day-old copy of Al-Ahram.

I tried to hang on to what was offered to me there. I tried to avoid coming back to a country that was in deep distress, a university that offered very little, and a job that offered even less.

Inevitably, I came back and I said to myself that I should never leave again and I should never part ways from my country and people.

My life went on and I tried to get so engrossed in my academic research and clinic and also in some public activities.

Then with the October 1973 crossing, I saw a new glimpse of hope – but that was short-lived as there soon came considerable turmoil that opened the door for three decades of backwardness.

This was happening to Egypt at a time when countries all over the world were pursuing liberty and building their economic success stories.

I tried all I could, along with some real patriotic figures, to defend my country against widespread corruption, unfairness, suffering, and injustice. I also tried to defend the country against the spread of obsolete ideas that were brought to life by despair and corruption.

And suddenly I felt hope on 25 January 2011 when the great people revolted and called for freedom. I did have hope but I was always aware in my mind that there was a threatening challenge for the revolution because the country was caught between the army and the religious groups.

I feared for the revolution and for my country – again. I chose, in an act of defense, to establish a civil social democratic party in the hope that it might help rescue Egypt.

Today, I realize that there is only a very small chance for hope. I see a nation that is falling into so many divisions. I see police forces not protecting the people but beating and torturing them.

I see ministers that fail to live up to their mandate and an economy that is falling apart in a fashion that has shocked the exchange rate of the national currency versus the dollar – taking the dollar to be worth almost ten pounds.

I see highly disturbing international reports about the future of this country that is being left by foreign companies and banks, one after the other.

I see unexpected increases in national and foreign debts and with them economic hardship and expansion of poverty.

I see incredible malnutrition levels that are taking a toll on the physical well being and mental fitness of our children in rural areas.

And I see thousands of citizens forced into jail, torture, and humiliation against a backdrop of an absurd setting where children and artists are sent to jail for incredibly senseless charges and where the media is dominated by mediocrity and vulgarity.

I see a country where a lawyer is being interrogated for having dared to draft an anti-torture bill.

I see a country that is suffering an enormous drop in its international relations – without the exception of a close ally like Italy that has always been supportive of Egypt, and without the exception of Arab countries where our influence is barely visible.

I see a disturbing threat to our share of Nile water – at a time where the public opinion is kept in the dark about this crucial matter.

There is parliament that was engineered upon a made-to-measure law in an exercise that was designed to bring a legislative house to serve a particular purpose that is to bow to the wish of the state.

Even the president, who the people looked up to at one point as the country's savior, has chosen to act in a very unilateral fashion and to adopt crucial decisions away from the public opinion and to embark on mega projects with no feasibility studies – and to finally make a very depressing statement where he symbolically proposes to put himself up for sale.

We are on our way to a terribly disturbing abyss that only the blind cannot see.

I am really and truly desperate to do anything for this beautiful country that I see falling apart before my own eyes with nothing in my hands to offer.

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