Your Tax Dollars At Work

I have been following the excellent coverage at The Arabist of all the pro-reform demonstrations in Egypt, where activists are being beaten, tortured, and sodomized. It’s utterly revolting stuff, and though it’s not new to Mubarak’s regime, the sheer magnitude of the arrests would seem to indicate that the country is on the brink of an implosion.

There’s also a worthwhile opinion piece by novelist Ahdaf Soueif in the GuardianComment Is Free‘ blog:

But Egypt has been teetering for years on the edge of chaos. The process of development the country has been subjected to for the last 30 years is now affecting the life of every citizen. Cairo has unacceptable levels of pollution; the haphazard slums that have sprung up have no access to clean water. For the first time in history Egyptians are undernourished. Cancer, respiratory disease and hepatitis C run rampant – said to be caused by suspect agricultural pesticides and other chemical imports. Unemployment sits at 12%. A nation that’s been rooted in its land for six millennia is queueing at every embassy’s immigration counter. Education has become a farce; so has healthcare. The gap between rich and poor yawns obscenely and the middle classes have vanished into it. And most of this is avoidable – if the country were run in the interests of its people, by a government accountable to the people and governed by the law and the constitution. This is what the reform movement is about.

The fact that Egypt has not yet collapsed is largely because of values that are entrenched in the Egyptian way of life: patience, compromise and solidarity. But now matters are coming to a head: a fault line is being created between Egyptian Copts and Egyptian Muslims, and there is official negligence and corruption. The situation becomes more and more unsettling.

Egypt, of course, is a top recipient of U.S. aid. Democracy is on the march, I tell you.

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