Friday, November 13, 2009

In Defence of Football Fans

The average Egyptian does not have business projects to look up to. He does not know whether he will have enough money to provide for himself in case he gets very ill, or worse, if a son or daughter gets ill. The average Egyptian takes up two or three jobs, spends 4 hours daily squeezed in public transportation, does not have a proper social life. The average Egyptian is savagely caught up in the rat race, and the only relief he can look up to is football. Now imagine that this relief gives your country the chance to be internationally prominent, wouldn't you feel proud? We see the Egyptian government failing to defend the hungry, poor and defencless, starting from its own people and ending with Palestinians and Iraqis. As soon as the US invaded Iraq, all Mubarak could utter was "We hope the US operation will end soon". I am not premusing he could do anything else. There was nothing else Egypt could do given the circumstances. When hungry and cold Palestinians stormed through the Egyptian border a year and a half ago all Abul Gheit said was Egypt will break the bones of any Palestinian who would dare get hungry and look for food again. What's the use of a gate if you will keep it shut off most of the time, except if what you're really doing is imprisoning Gaza? Here goes a political failure.
No one knows if Egyptian products are sold abroad, no one knows if there is an international Egyptian market. EVERYONE knows where the revenues of tourism and the Suez Canal really go. The average Egyptian sees only shillings of the billions the government promises to provide as July bonus or social bonuses. Here goes an economic failure.
Doesn't it logically follow a social failure? You bet.
Now, when the only victory, or even facade of victory, looms in the distance, you still want do not want the Egyptians to breathe? So basically Egyptians are asked to be poor, hungry, hopeless and smileless? The overwhelming majority of Egyptians love their country, there is no doubt about this, and they wait for any chance to show their feelings. When they express patriotism through strikes, or protests, or forming virtual youth movements, they are hunt down, beaten, tortured and even killed. Workers who protest low pay do not only want to improve their condition, they want to give their country, they want to work and produce. The Tanta Flax and Oil Company workers' chants gave priority to falx over their own lives. I have never seen patriotism similar to this.
According to Alaa Al-Aswany (arabic), football is the only area where Egyptians are allowed to express their patriotism freely. They are not beaten up by the police. They are given a real chance to participate. This is why you see thousands of Egyptians in stadiums chanting and cheering for hours on end but a few tens or hundreds calling for political and economic reform in demonstrations. Isn't it only logical?
If so, why do we find voices rising before every grand football event like tomorrow's calling Egyptians stupid and naive, just because they prioritise football above almost any other area?
To begin with, this accusation is pure false. We have seen thousands of Egyptians chanting for Palestine and Iraq, risking being arrested and tortured, even school children participated in anti-Israeli protests. Egyptians defend Palestinians and Iraqis, Egyptians now stand up for their rights and voice their opinions. Egyptians collected money and food and managed to give them to Palestinians whenever the oppressive Egyptian regime allowed. Egyptian doctors have ventured inside the Gaza war zone and performed operations on what was left of Palestinian raid victims.
It is horrendously unfair to say Egyptians only ever care about football. If you have two chances to express patriotism, the first involves sexual and physical assault, passing out, losing your job, getting arrested and/or tortured, the second involves being among masses of people who share your opinion and your passion, you are allowed to express yourself without being called "qilla mundassa" or "wishful thinkers", which would you choose?
Why are you denying Egyptians their only vent, their only way to feel the rush of victory?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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