Egypt: All Causes Are Equal, But Some Are More Equal Than Others

Egyptian blogger Malek Mostafa has been wondering if we just choose to defend all good causes, or if we tend to prefer some causes over others [ar].

It all started during the Labour Day celebrations that took place in Tahrir Square, Cairo, on May 1, 2011; some people became upset with the fancy stage set up in the square to commemorate the occasion. Malek tries to find out why all this happened.

One of the protesters in Tahrir Square during the Labour Day celebrations, carrying one of the most famous quotes taken from The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Workers of The World, Unite! Photo by Maggie Osama used under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

One of the protesters in Tahrir Square during the Labour Day celebrations, carrying one of the most famous quotes taken from The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Workers of The World, Unite! Photo by Maggie Osama used under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Malek writes:

كان مشهد مستفز جدا بالنسبة لي, اني اشوف المسرح اللي تم نصبه في الميدان عشان يغني عليه علي الحجار.
انا مبفهمش اوي في اسعار الحاجات دي, بس واضح انها غاليه اوي ومعديه كام عشرتلاف.
وتفهمت تماما, شعور المتظاهرين اللي قرروا يحتلوا الخشبه, ويعترضوا ع وجود احتفاليه بالمنظر دا”نفس الناس كانت قابله تماما في الاعتصام التاني انه يبقى في مطربين بيغنوا, وكانوا بيغنوا معاهم, بس المطربين دول كانوا بيغنوا ع المنصه العاديه, وبمكبرات صوت عاديه, من غير اي حاجه فخمه
The scene in the square that day was very provocative to me – seeing a stage like this one being put up for [Egyptian singer] Ali El-Haggar to sing on it. I am not an expert when it comes to the cost of arranging such events, but for sure it costs them a few tens of thousands of Egyptian pounds.
I totally understood the feelings of the protesting workers that day, who decided to occupy the stage and show their disagreement with the presence of such a fancy concert. The very same people had no problem seeing singers singing in the square during the sit-ins. They even used to sing with them, but then they stood on normal stages and used basic sound systems, nothing fancy was there then.

Malek continues:

مش فاهم, عمال ايه دول اللي معاهم عشرات الالاف عشان يجيبوا خشبة مسرح بالشكل دا ؟
ومين اللي معاه الفلوس دي وبيسمي نفسه منظمة حقوقيه, وبدل ما يصرفها ع “العمال” يصرفها ع الحج علي الحجار ؟
I don't get it, what kind of workers do have tens of thousands of pounds to bring a stage like this one?
And who has such a huge amount of money to spare and can yet call themselves human rights organizations? And instead of spending such money on the workers in need, they spend it on a concert?

Malek then moves to his main question, as he tries to figure out why some causes grab more attention than others:

بالنسبة لشخص زيي مستفز اوي, ان عامل او فلاح, او صنايعي, مايلقيش غير منظمة او اتنين حقوقيه ممكن تمثله بجد, وتشتغل عليه بجد, وواحد شبههي, يوم ما حيحتاج حاجه حيلاقي 50 منظمة تشتغل له, مش لشئ غير ان اسمه حيبيع لهم, وحيجيب لهم تمويل
For me, it's provocative how there are very few organizations that defend the rights of workers or peasants, while someone like me can easily find 50 organization to defend his rights, for nothing more than he's a well known name that the organizations can use to market their work and get more funds out of it.

He adds more reasons:

وطبعا عشان الشغل ع العمال او غيرهم من الفئات, مش نفس الوجاهة الاجتماعية بتاع الشغل ع حرية الرأي والتعبير, مع الفنانين, والمزز, والمثقفين, وجرائد وتليفيزيونات ويالا هيصه, فحتى المنظمات اللي كانت شغاله بشكل متفرد ع العمال, جزء منها حول نشاط
طبعا حيبقى لطيف تكون مدير-منسق-مشرف في منظمة شغاله ع قضية رأي عام جباره, ع انك تكون نفس الصفات السابقة وشغال ع عامل او فلاح او صنايعي الخ


And for sure, defending workers rights is not as prestigious as defending causes like freedom of speech, where the spotlight is more focused.
It's more appealing to be the head of an organization that works on causes that attract public opinion than have a similar position in an organization that defends workers or peasants rights.

And he summarizes how he sees the market driving people's choices for causes to defend:

برضه الشغل مع الناس النضيفه بينضف.
وطبعا مافيش مانع,انك تشوف المزاج العام رايح لفين عشان تكون وسطه, مره دستور, مره استفتاء, مره انتخابات, وممكن كوميكس ومدونين ونشطاء انترنت كمان


Working with prestigious people makes you more prestigious.
And why not follow the market! Constitution, elections, comics, and cyber-activists.

Finally, isn't it interesting how we choose to stand with some causes more than others. I don't know if it is ethical to do so or not?

Do you see it as using double standards or is it just human that each of one has his own preferences and priorities, supporting causes closer to them and their interests?

1 comment

  • azmat


    Its unfortunate how pathetic and hypocritical the Islamic revolutions are. They have neither the credible leadership nor the sustainable purpose. The leadership will soon slip into the hands of the new terrorists and the dictators, a business as usual. The fact is, under Islamic governments there is no guarantee of equal treatment for Christians and Jews or any other minorities. The Qoranic instructions blatantly forbid the tolerance and protection of minorities.The prime example is the recent killings of Christians in Egypt which is no surprise to anyone. Its been going on since the formation of Islam. Remember democracy is the firstborn of Christianity not of Islam.

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