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Bartered bride

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Philip Whitfield

Philip Whitfield

Philip Whitfield

Brave reporting by Hamza Hendawi. His Associated Press copy from Dalga makes your blood boil. Morsi supporters are ethnically cleansing Christians in a town a hop skip and a jump from Tahrir Square.

The police stand idly by while 20,000 Christian homes and businesses are torched. An Orthodox priest’s house is burned down. The 80-year-old celebrates Mass packing a pistol.

The monastery going back 1,600 years is looted bare burnt to a cinder; saints’ remains scattered to the winds. Christian women cower in the kitchen fearing abuse outside. A local rights activist says Copts are living in Hell.

A 60-year-old defending his property is dragged off the roof and murdered. A pro-Morsi leader Saber Askar sits on a chair barking orders at a priest to mash the tea.

This has been going on since 3 July. There’s only one conclusion. If you pray Christian you pay. The police? They look the other way.

What’s the government doing? According to AP the Ministry of Interior moved the local police chief. They’d say that, wouldn’t they? Why isn’t this plod in jail not jankers?

General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is the man of the moment. Most think he’d make a good president, so long as he kiboshes the khaki. Before that, Al-Sisi should march over there with an armed column and cull the creeps.

A seed flourishes in fertile soil knowing not whether a Christian or a Muslim plants it.

Egypt demands the opportunity to vote down the thugs. Brotherhood youth want to get a whack. Denied, they’ll buck ballots for bullets.

For generations Upper Egypt’s been a nest of tribalism and gunslingers. Given a breather, Dalga would turf out the monsters making their lives a misery.

Drive in the other direction. In the Delta, Mahalla seethes. When will its workforce be taken seriously? Their pay and conditions are Dickensian. They are chiselled out of bonuses negotiated in good faith. Who by? The government.

Mahalla demands the doors are thrust open to give children a chance to study unabridged books. Women deserve work on equal terms; all to train out of the menial. Their appeal for justice transcends servitude’s immorality. Their swords will not blunt cutting into greed. They are honed on realism, the revolution’s bedrock.

Not so long ago a furore would follow China’s forking out $3bn to scoop up gobs of Egyptian oil. These days? Nary a peep.

When they speak, it’s with forked tongues. The Minister for Industry and Foreign Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour says 613 factories closed in recent months. The manpower minister says the number is 4,500.

Owners close their factories. Some flee. Some sell the machinery. Others are insolvent. Some can’t get raw materials or skilled labour. Security is woefully lacking.

Money doesn’t create wealth. People do. Focusing on amassing foreign earnings through industry diminishes the Nile Valley’s beneficence. Import duties feed bureaucracy. They deter trading partners. Reversing deals scares investors away.

All the while, government’s excessive meddling consigns quality to the bargain basement.

Egypt’s torn between Karl Marx and Adam Smith: Das Kapital mangled with The Wealth of Nations. A clash of manifestations is ripping Egypt apart. Over there, a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie plods on, dreaming domes of dosh. Beyond, the proles scorn free enterprise, clinging to duds.

The warp and weft being woven into the fabric of the new society shuttles back and forth as laboriously as the spinning jennies and cotton gins that monetised Egypt’s staple a century ago.

Economics can be baffling. Economic game theory isn’t. Tune in to the so-called influences of scarcity, which secure subsistence for all, supplying one another with reciprocal wants. Another way of expressing that is financial sovereignty.

Dr Fadhel Kaboub, an economics professor at Ohio’s Denison University writes: “Egypt cannot achieve true democracy without delivering social and economic justice.” He says Egypt has been prescribing the wrong medicine: Over the last five years, the Egyptian pound plummeted 24% against the dollar. Neoliberal policies extend the misery.

Turkey says Egypt is playing politics. Egyptian customs are allowing only 30% of their exports to be offloaded. What on earth is going on: government management or mismanagement? Either is contemptible. Trade barriers don’t protect. They impoverish.

The government clings to outmoded economic theory. They cause depressions and war. Cairo University teaches mercantilism is a disaster. The economists they disgorge are pooh-poohed.

Saudi Arabia is being courted with EGP 33bn of business opportunities. Isn’t it time Egypt darned its own socks? DalyDress isn’t the only shop discounting everything 50%.

Bargain hunters are walking off with the Bride of Egypt’s trousseau.

Philip Whitfield is a Cairo commentator.


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