A good friend was in London when the hot air balloon went down in Luxor killing 19 people, including two Brits, last week. “People were horrified, ” she told me.”Two lives were lost.”
Among the 19 killed was an Egyptian woman. To this day no one knows for sure whether she worked for the hot air balloon company or whether she was a tourist.
You see, she is Egyptian, therefore, she is not that important.
During the Mubarak era, there was a common joke among Egyptians: “ If you want the ambulance to come quickly, tell them there are foreigners involved.”
Thus was the value of Egyptian life before the 25 January revolution.
Things have not changed much in Egypt with the rule of the self-proclaimed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
Egyptians are being killed in clashes and demonstrations, and are kidnapped and tortured then found dead in hospitals. This has become the norm in the last six months of the Brotherhood’s rule.
Many foreigners, along with the Muslim Brotherhood, criticise Egyptians who call for the downfall of Morsi and his government, saying that Egyptians are not democratic in calling for the ousting of an “elected” president.
Morsi did come to power through the ballots, but what many fail to see is that blood triumphs over ballots.
Imagine this: A sixteen-year-old who campaigned for the current president goes to downtown marches on the anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes where many lost their eyes and others their lives in 2011 forcing SCAF to set a date for presidential elections. The boy was shot in the face by the police. This happened to Jika in November 2012.
-A peaceful sit-in violently broken up, not by the police, but by pro-government supporters, torturing many and killing seven. This happened in December 2012 at the presidential palace. Among the dead was anti-Morsi Journalist Al-Husseiny Abu Deif who was shot in the head at point blank range.
-Clashes erupt in a city. The police fires teargas, birdshot and live bullets at unarmed civilians. Videos of snipers targeting civilians fill the virtual world. The result: over 40 dead. This happened in Port Said in January.
-An activist is found tortured, electrocuted, and beaten. His family finds him by chance in a hospital. He survives for a couple of days only to lose the fight. Families accuse the police of kidnapping and torturing their children to death. This happened to 20-something year old Mohamed El-Gendy and Mohamed Al-Shaafy in February 2013. Other activists were found tortured, but alive.
-Children arrested and handcuffed, locked with adults in prison cells as the police completely ignore the Children’s Law articles protecting their rights. Lawyers documented shoe-prints on the children’s faces as well as signs of beatings. Some were interrogated without the presence of a lawyer or parents. This happened throughout January and February 2013 during almost all clashes between civilians and the police.
-Protesters and police clash for over 10 days, following civil disobedience and violence throughout different governorates resulting in nearly 600 injured and three dead. This happened in Mahalla, Port Said and Suez in March 2013.
Meanwhile, there is barely any presidential or governmental response. Officials, if they turn up on TV, give the usual line of “offering condolences” asking for “calm” and “respect of law” without offering tangible solutions to any of the problems causing this societal congestion.
Egyptians satirically now refer to the country as “the big morgue”.
So imagine, instead, those who died or were injured are named ‘John’, ‘David’, and ‘Mark’ instead of ‘Mohamed’, ‘Ahmed’ and ‘Mina’. Imagine that this happened in the United Sates or the United Kingdom and Obama or Cameron, instead of addressing the nation and changing the cabinet, chose to ignore the people and the deaths preparing for the next legislative elections amid the bloodshed while his wife jets off to a coastal city for much-needed recreational time (as Om Ahmed, Morsi’s wife, did while Port Said was burying its dead in February).
What if the police who should protect and serve you kill and maim your children using money you pay in taxes?
Would you care about the ballots as you bury your loved ones, all the while getting poorer because of the failures of the government?
Yes, the value of an Egyptian’s life is still to be decided.