x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

There will be other choices available to Egyptians

Egyptians were not wrong to topple Mubarak, but they deserve better government than they are getting now, an Arabic commentator says. Other topics: Boston bombings, Syrian war.

Egyptians are not destined to choose between the evils of Mubarak and those of the Brothers

The tale of the poor man, the rabbi and the pig is a good allegory for the current situation in Egypt, novelist Alaa Aswani noted in his article Will Mubarak keep smiling? which was carried by the Cairo-based newspaper Al Masry Al Youm.

A poor Jewish man lived with his wife and 10 children in a small two-room house. Unable to bear the misery, he went to a rabbi for advice. The rabbi ordered him to bring a pig into his home, saying this was God's will.

The man was astounded but eventually obeyed the rabbi. The situation could not be worse. The stinky pig made the man's life a living hell.

After a week, the man returned to the rabbi, asking to get rid of the pig. But the rabbi resolutely refused.

Another week passed. The man went again to the rabbi, crying and begging for a way out. The rabbi finally allowed him to take the pig out of the house.

The rabbi later asked the man how his life was, to which he replied: "True, I live with 10 children in two small rooms and we are extremely poor, but thank goodness, we live in bliss now, without the pig".

Awsani commented that "this story is usually used to argue for the idea that a man must not complain about his miserable situation, because it could be worse".

"But whenever I read it, I wonder why the man in the story had to choose between bad and worse. Is the man not entitled to live a decent life with his family?"

In the aftermath of the revolution, Egyptians were sanguine about the future. Yet two years on, the situation has deteriorated: unrest, price rises, unemployment everywhere. The situation led many Egyptians to become nostalgic about the oppressive, corrupt regime of Hosni Mubarak, just like the man felt about his dire life before he brought the pig home.

It is the worsening situation after the revolution that led Mr Mubarak to smile during the first session of his retrial, looking confident and waving to his supporters as if he were a presidential candidate.

It seemed as if he was telling Egyptians: "You rose against me and forced me out of power, and all you've got from the revolution is chaos and misery. If my rule was bad, you can see that the Brotherhood's is much worse".

Yet Egyptians were not wrong to topple Mubarak. They were wrong to have allowed him to enjoy his power for so long; and they were wrong when they entrusted Mohammed Morsi and the Brotherhood with achieving the goals of the revolution.

The Brotherhood in power is a sad but necessary experience for Egyptians to learn how to separate religion from those who trade on it.

The revolution will continue until its goals are achieved. Then Mr Mubarak will find no reason to smile, Aswani concluded.

Boston bombings a plain act of terrorism

The bombings that targeted marathon runners in the US city of Boston on Monday need to be condemned in strongest terms, regardless of who the plotters might be, Arabic-language newspapers in the UAE said yesterday, urging commentators not to jump to conclusions about the identity of the culprits.

"The bombings are clearly terrorist attacks as they indiscriminately targeted a crowd of normal people … but that does not quite help in determining the identity of the suspects, their cultural backgrounds or intentions," the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan said in its editorial yesterday.

In 1995, accusations were levelled against Muslims over the Oklahoma City bombing that claimed 168 innocent lives. The culprit turned out to be an American extremist.

The Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej said events like the Boston bombings, which killed three people and injured nearly 200, are painful reminders of the need to boost global efforts on counterterrorism.

"The general condemnation of this criminal act, as expressed by most countries around the world despite their diverse orientations and politics, is a reflection of a level of solidarity that must be exploited to thwart further attacks of this kind," the newspaper said.

"This roaming criminality must be stamped out … and that is the joint responsibility of all nations."


Syrian transgressions in Lebanon continue

Syrian aggression against Lebanese border towns must be treated as more than individual cases of security breaches, columnist Emadeddine Adeeb wrote in the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

Military action has been escalating on the Lebanese-Syrian border for the past three months. Syrian authorities justify it as defensive action against "terrorist" elements in the Free Syrian Army that are taking refuge with their allies in Lebanon.

The attacks, including raids by the Syrian air force on border towns, pose a challenge to the Lebanese president who has been trying to distance himself from the fallout of the Syrian war.

"But it seems that attempts to shield Lebanon from the ramifications of the Syrian crisis are tricky, if not impossible," said the writer.

Many complications make it quite hard to prevent the war from spilling over the border. One of these is the interest that major Lebanese factions have in the Syrian conflict in which Hizbollah is taking part.

At the same time, Sunni forces in Tripoli and Tyre are implicated in supporting the ultra-Islamist Jabhat Al Nusra that fights against the Assad regime.

It is unlikely that Beirut will be able to separate itself politically from Damascus.

* Digest complied by The Translation Desk