‘Look at the birdy‘ is a phrase few childhoods, the world over, are free of. But, whereas, those languid memories bring smiles and pleasure as children when we encounter the same dynamic, as adults, only trouble is our partner. Egypt, historically, has provided a perfect example of this and now more than ever.
The idea is simple yet remains highly effective: take a nation in deep distress, add a pliable government-obediant media, stir in a, largely, politically naive populous and presto: the game begins. Egypt has a slew of real and progress decapitating problems: a defunct tourism industry, under-employement, electricity crisis, sexual assault, security crisis to name a few and all are capped off by hyper division. But open an Egyptian paper or an Egyptian TV channel and you are just likely to see one of these issues as you are to see a 3 hour program on the rampant problem of atheism. Putting aside the fact that this is a personal matter between the heavens and those who choose that route it is issues such as these where the birdy becomes the focus.
Suddenly, Ibrahim Issa, a TV commentator ‘extraordinaire’, who changes political and philosophical skin faster than a Cobra, is discussing ‘punishement of the Grave’- the idea whether the punishement of those lacking faith begins in the grave. It maybe a ‘grave’ matter for some, but at a time when a nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, an economy kept afloat only due massive loans from Sisi fans in the Arab Gulf, it is likely not a notion that should garner national focus. Yet it is these topics that, seemingly, haphazardly, appear as agenda items in Egyptian media. Even if there isnt a particularly hot salacious intellectual devalue at the ready there is always the ready standby of El Jin (genies and spirits). When it comes to that issue Egyptian cinema and soap operas are ready to jump into the mix as evidenced by recent successes of the movie the Blue elephant and the soap opera the 7 Trusts. These subjects, and the greatest drug of all: Soccer, serve the all important need of an autocracy: to disengage the majority from the real issues facing an Egypt at the crossroads.
So next time you click that remote or that link remember this: one need not ‘look at the birdy‘.