Sunday, 13 February 2011

Egypt - apologies due

This weekend is especially about Egypt, and other than congratulations, they don't need my tuppence-worth to help them on their way. However, there is one thing for us to think about here in the western democracies, and in the UK in particular: hypocrisy. Ours. It's been there for a very long time in our relations with Egypt, and for 30 years until very recently we have been decidely acquiescent towards Mubarak.

So once again, congratulations Egypt, but also sorry. It seems that our own much-vaunted democracy, press freedoms, trading partnerships, and affluent lifestyles depend on tolerating the denial of the same freedoms for others. To avoid rocking our comfy British boat, Labour and Conservative governments alike have supported regimes - Mubarak's not least among them - whose conduct flies in the face of our own supposed principles. Then we pretend to be appalled and, for instance, invade Iraq. The point is, we can sit in bed on Sunday reading the paper and go 'hurrah!" (and hurrah indeed), but do we really imagine that the people of Egypt don't see the hypocrisy of our actions over the last 30 years and more?

If you think I'm just sloshing cold water about, here is a quote about Mubarak's regime in Saturday's Guardian from Adaf Soueif, the author of the best-selling novel The Map of Love. Ms Soueif, by the way, writes in both Arabic and English and lives in Cairo and London. What she says is followed by a shameful piece of information.

"The regime [...] have facilitated the exploiting, the degrading of the country's institutions to serve the interests of a small clique against the interests of the nation as a whole. And to be able to do this, they have maligned and misrepresented the Egyptian people to each other and to the world. They have engaged in nothing less than the the destruction of the humanity of this country."

The shameful piece of information is the fact that Mubarak sometimes lends his palace in Sharm el-Sheik to Tony Blair.
Here, at the opposite end of some scale or other, is Fruitcake the cat's itinerary for yesterday morning:
05.00     Rise for accompanied light snack and a turn in the garden for saucers of rain water
07.00     Rise again from double duvet for somewhat heartier scoff and more rain water
10.00     Rise once more for a proper very high protein breakfast that would in truth appal
             adherents of most of the world's major religions.
10.15     Read the paper on people's knees. Retire to sleep in a boxfile of receipts till lunch.
13.00     Light lunch of munchy things. Retire to boxfile.

The humans here are of course complete suckers, but Fruitcake doesn't torture anyone or let Tony Blair sleep in his boxfile.

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