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Troubled times ahead

Unlike in Japan, Egypt’s tsunami, the 25 January Revolution, has not left people united

Gamal Abdel-Gawad , Thursday 24 Mar 2011
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Egypt is in revolution and Japan is in calamity. Those killed in Egypt were no more than 1,000 at the worst, but the dead in Japan are more than 9,000 and a similar number are missing, their fate unknown. The disaster in Japan cost the country $300 billion, while the economic price of the Egyptian revolution remains in the tens of billions according to available estimates. Millions of Japanese are exposed to deadly radiation, which will affect generations to come, while the psychological disorders resulting from tension, anxiety, fits of joy and fear, which accompany a revolution, are temporary.

Despite this, Japan will come through its crisis and overcome the catastrophe quicker than Egypt will transcend the ramifications of revolution. The Japanese tsunami destroyed infrastructure, homes and power plants, but these can all be rebuilt and recovered except for the lives of the victims who drowned. The Egyptian tsunami, however, submerged the political regime, state institutions, security agencies and decision-making institutions. All these require a long time to rebuild, and we may or may not succeed in this endeavour.

The Japanese will stand united behind their government as it rebuilds the country, while Egyptian ranks will be divided into political parties and blocs competing over the prize and trying to undermine or eliminate each other. Today, all Japanese share a common sorrow and will rejoice together when they move forward on the road to rebuilding; but the Egyptians today are divided between those who are joyful and others who are not. These are the same sentiments that will be repeated at every step we take forward, similar to what happened after the referendum on constitutional reform.

Human society is similar to a computer, composed of hardware and software. The hardware is the metal box and the screen connected to it, and the software are the complicated programmes that transform the computer from a metal and plastic box into an intelligent device that does miracles. Japan’s hardware was destroyed but the Japanese can buy another one and use the same efficient software.

But in Egypt, the revolutionaries destroyed the slow, malfunctioning, fickle software and have no alternates. Egyptian engineers are now battling over creating the new software, and each is building with one hand and destroying with the other what their peers are making. It seems we will remain at this phase for some time to come.

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