Being driven to work today we passed again the front gate for the Ministry of Defense in Heliopolis (or is it Nasr City? I can never tell where each begins and ends) and I was struck by the inherent irony of the gate decor which is comprised of random pharaonic gods and a large replica of a pharaoh holding the severed heads of his four enemies by the hair. I think that there should be a word stronger than irony for this but I can’t think of what it would be. Sardonic reality? Anyways, we’ll get back to the reason I find it ironic later but first I was contemplating the obsequious use of pharaonic symbolism in all governmental buildings. To me it always seems somehow incongruous in such a religious society but then I reminded myself, as I always must, that Egypt is a secular country ruled by a democratically elected pharaoh president who puts politics before religion- except for the fact that the laws are based on shari’ah (loosely)- so of course they would use such religiously-safe symbolism as that of the mutually despised pharaonic civilization. Its least likely to ruffle feathers.
But then I was struck by an errant thought: I was once schooled by a sister, whose particular style of naseeha came with nausea, chafing, and rectal bleeding, who told me that it was haram to vote for any non-Muslim and therefore I had committed a grave sin by voting for Obama or voting in the American elections at all. (Side note: I know the man’s not Muslim but don’t I at least get some points for his name?) So, along that line of thinking isn’t it haram then to vote in any Egyptian elections? Have the 12 Egyptians brave enough to actually vote imperiled their souls?
And thinking further, is it halal to vote in ANY elections at all? What politician out there still has a soul and a connection to religion that doesn’t involve paying off priests and imams? Am I doomed to only voting for Kieth Ellison?
At least in Egypt we’re not given the choice and I have yet to meet an Egyptian who actually took the time to vote. Maybe Hosni’s doing us all a favor out of the goodness of his heart by not allowing us to vote in non-religious politics. That must be it- its for our own good.
And the irony of the gate is that it would be just as true if they had put Hosni’s face on that of the Pharaoh and the faces of the opposition leaders on the four heads of the conquered enemies. The only things this government hasn’t resurrected are the deifying of the pharaoh (they’re still working on it) and the marrying of half-brothers and sisters to keep the divine blood pure (but money and power only marries into money and power so its simply a matter of time.)