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The Horror

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Mahmoud SalemFor the past week I have been avoiding, ducking and evading the black hole of negativity that has seemingly sucked everyone in. It wasn’t an easy task especially because for everyone I spoke to, the news of what’s been happening in the country, from mass sexual assaults and terrorism to police torture of street children, was slowly but surely driving them insane with depression.

The newspapers kept stoking their fears with stories providing awful data on just about everything. Evidence suggested that we were not doing well, and it was freaking them out.

According to them, the “situation” here has “deteriorated”. Mayhem and brutality are on the rise and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Suddenly, serious experts from all walks of life were on television informing us all that we should be very worried, and no one challenged.

Anxiety was fluttering everywhere. Everybody was speaking of how doomed we all are, how we should all leave, and how nothing could transform any of this into something positive. Everybody was so afraid, albeit in a repetitive and boring way. It was almost fascinating. Almost.

Assurances are not my thing, although they seem to be required of me in every conversation I have had with a freaked-out friend in the last 2 years. So I have come to accept it as part of being a good friend, and since I like you, dear reader, and consider you a friend, let me reassure you the same way I have reassured them when they confronted me with their fears and anxiety: stop being a baby and GET OVER IT. Seriously…

I am not a cold-hearted person, and I do recognise that what’s been happening all over the country is horrifying to any soul out there, but it’s hardly new. None of this is. Mass sexual assault and rapes in Downtown? The first time we (you know, those annoying activists) witnessed it was in 2006 during Eid, and that was only because some of us were there to see it and record it.

The media at the time tried really hard to suppress the story, with almost everyone denying this had happened. Another video found online showed the same thing happened the year before. It makes you wonder how long ago this phenomenon really started, but there is no way to find out.

Same thing with the street children, who we as a society have turned a blind eye to for the past 30 years. We didn’t care who they were, what happened to them when they got arrested by the police, or how bad their living conditions were. We just didn’t want to see them, and some of us have managed to erase them from our vision, accepting them as somehow part of the background like a tree or a sidewalk. It’s not like we didn’t care- oh wait, we didn’t.

We also didn’t want to see them. We just wanted them gone, telling ourselves that they were all in gangs and criminals, as if somehow that justifies what was happening to them. Children. Imagine.

I have no intention of moralising at you, or informing you that this is the price you must pay for your complacency and your indifference. No. I am simply here to inform you that this has been the state of the country for years, and that while the incidents may have intensified or transformed into something worse (stabbing a girl in the vagina with a knife is most certainly not about sexual gratification), they have always happened. Egypt did not get worse.

You just didn’t know Egypt. Now you do. And by the way, this is why we needed this revolution, because no one was doing anything about it and everybody was pretending that we lived in some safe and secure utopia where everyone was out of harm’s way. Now you know we don’t. Get over it.

Get over it and do something other than blaming everyone else. Get over it and understand that blaming women for years for getting sexually harassed was bound to lead to this horror. Get over it and think of ways to save street children from the hands of their abusers, government officials or civilians, instead of always waiting for someone else to do something.

Get over it, and stop blaming society, because you are the society, and unless you do something, it will always be this way. And please don’t tell me that we have lost so much in the past two years, because we have lost nothing. We didn’t improve, but we didn’t lose anything. We haven’t even begun to lose.


About the author

Mahmoud Salem

Mahmoud Salem

Mahmoud Salem is a political activist, writer, and social media consultant. His writings could be found at www.sandmonkey.org and follow him @sandmonkey on Twitter

  • Justice

    Mahmoud’s writing strikes through complacency like a true arrow. Time for Egyot to grow up and allow all citizens to breathe free, clean air. Racism, sexism and religious madness course through the country’s veins like poison. Hw many more have to suffer before Egypt emerges from its Dark Age? Other cultures have had this struggle and moved forward to create fairer societies and forge democracy. These journeys have been painful and citizens around the world wish Egypt would learn from history and stop dismissing more advanced cultures. We can all earn from countries which do things better. Corruption rots every Egyptian institution yet everyone buys into it. It can be changed. It will change. The MB have already outlived their shelf life. The quicker they are binned the quicker you can move on.

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