The Conman’s paradise

Mahmoud Salem
7 Min Read
Mahmoud Salem
Mahmoud Salem

In the 1960’s, the Egyptian state newspaper Al-Ahram was filled with headlines about the amazing scientific breakthroughs of the Egyptian military. One such headline celebrated the invention of the first “Arab-made” airplane – one that could reach Mach 2 – while the other announced to the world the creation of Egyptian missiles that could reach outer space. The Egyptian nationals who read Al-Ahram believed it, and believed that we were becoming a super power, until the 1967 Six-Day War, when our army suffered the most humiliating defeat of its history, and all of those inventions were seen as works of fiction. The editor of Al-Ahram at that time was Mohamed Hassanein Heikel, who was President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s chief propagandist, is now rumoured to be one of five people advising Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on his yet-to-be-announced presidential campaign.

Yesterday we received a similar report from Al-Ahram boasting the invention of the first Egyptian device that can not only detect Hepatitis C, and AIDS, but can also cure them. The detection device is called C-Fast, and it is a bomb detector that was supposedly further developed to detect an electromagnetic pulse that those diseases apparently elicited in our bodies. In a fantastic video shown on national television, not only were we shown the device, but we were informed that it could cure Hepatitis C and AIDS. An army doctor was shown talking to what is a presumably an AIDS patient, informing him casually that he used to  have AIDS, but now the AIDS is gone, and the patient casually thanks God. The military has naturally announced that it won’t divulge how this device works, or let it outside of Egypt, out of fear that “The West” will steal it.

The name of this miraculous device? CC-D. Get it? CC? Yeah.

You can see where this is going…

I must say, the past eight months have been nothing short of mentally exhausting. It was like watching a silly parody or a mirror image of the year of the Muslim Brotherhood rule. The Brotherhood had a hapless prime minister known as Hisham Qandil; we have a hapless prime minister called Hazem El-Beblawi. The Brotherhood had a constitution that they admitted to be “less than perfect, but the best we can come up with now and we can always amend later”, and the new Constituent Assembly also called their constitution “less than perfect, but the  best we can come up with now and we can always amend later”.  The Brotherhood had the Al-Nour Party as their ally, defending the constitution and the direction the country was taking; the interim government has the Al-Nour Party as its ally, defending the constitution and the direction the country is taking. The Brotherhood said that tourism was important to them, and then made a member of a terrorist group that killed tourists in Luxor the new governor. The interim government  says that tourism is important to them, and then have its media talking heads actively promoting xenophobia and encouraging distrust of foreigners by labeling them spies and foreign agents. The Brotherhood had the Renaissance Project; the interim government promises “huge development projects”. The Brotherhood nominated former president Mohamed Morsi, and, well, finishing that comparison could land me in jail.

An old friend once told me that Egypt is a conman’s paradise, and every day I find this to be more and more true. As we have seen over the years, we have a significant percentage of the population that is susceptible to a conman’s game, due to their incredible desperation and greed. As my father always said, you can only con the greedy, but once you do, you better take your winnings and run. Unfortunately for our conmen, they believe that they can maintain their con for the long term, which is why they always fail. The National Democratic Party did this and failed, and the Brotherhood did this and failed as well. Why? The Younger generations. They never fall for the con for long, and once they do, their retribution is uncontrollable. You can con their parents all you want, God knows that this is all that they are good for, but if you are looking for the long game, you better get the youth buy-in, and they are not going to buy anyone’s false goods anymore.

Egyptian schools and universities have been off for the past month and a half. The move was justified as a means to prevent the spread of swine-flu amongst large crowds, but that didn’t seem to stop them from having an audience at the local derby game that had 25,000 fans sitting together. Today, the news reported that  “security authorities” have recommended a cancellation of the second educational term in our public educational institutions for “security reasons”, which is code for “we don’t want to give large groups of young angry people a place to congregate until the elections are over”. The security authorities have forgotten that the angry young people can meet or organise through the internet, and that it will make no difference if they cancel this term, because you won’t be able to cancel all the coming school terms. Please also note that the younger generations do not care one bit about going against “legitimate democratic rule” if the idea is delaying school until the election is over and have the youth face the new reality “for the sake of the country or stability”. Yeah, good luck with that plan. Also, kill and jail as many as you want to enforce it. It still won’t work. And if you believe it will, I have one word for you: Ukraine.


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