Notes from America
NOTES FROM AMERICA: THE CONDOM UPRISING IN EGYPT!
February 1st, 2016 Administrator
“You should wear a condom on every conceivable occasion” goes the saying, with one exception, never during the Egyptian National Police Day, a day that was overshadowed five years ago by the January 25th Revolution…..
For the recent Police Day, the hype reached a new hysterical and bizarre level considering all the atrocities and brutalities committed by these same police over the last five years.
On the morning of January 25th, two young Egyptians had a different idea of how to commemorate National Police Day. Shady Abu Ziad, a 20-year-old correspondent for a satirical TV show, and his friend Ahmed Malek, a young Egyptian actor, pulled a condom prank on the police officers and spoiled the hyped hysteria of the National Police Day celebration.
Shady and Malek inflated a few condoms–the male protector in Arabic–and sarcastically wrote on them, “From the youth of Egypt to the police on January 25th.” Then, they took them to Tahrir Square, a militarized zone for the day, where only Al-Sisi supporters were allowed in. From the YouTube video, you can see Shady and Malek arrived with smiles bringing their condom “balloons.” Shady knelt down, kissed the ground and then the two walked around distributing the “balloons” out as gifts to some of the police officers positioned there. The gullible police officers seemed amused and pleased with the “balloon” gifts, not knowing they were inflated condoms. Malek and Shady made a video of the prank and posted it on their YouTube channel. Of course, the video went viral on social media and within hours, it had been viewed by almost 2 million people around the world.
At first, this might seem just an innocent practical joke from two young men who wanted to poke a little fun at the police. But the Egyptian police don’t take condom jokes very lightly. The police are now hyper-sensitive after their humiliation during the Jan. 25th revolution in 2011, when under the pressure of millions of protestors, the police suddenly vanished from the streets with some escaping while shedding their uniforms and stripping down to their underwear, “size 7” joked one activist.
The hysterical Egyptian media reacted to this prank by calling for the heads of the two on a platter. They called for their arrest, accusing them of a moral sin and the crime of humiliating state officials fulfilling their duties. The state launched a manhunt sending their dogs and secret police to look for the culprits—the condom balloon gift criminals.
Mada Masr, an independent online news site, stated that “…Shady, a correspondent for comedy TV show Abla Fahita, had been arrested for appearing in the video.” This was later confirmed by the interior ministry’s statement of the arrest of Shady in his home. His arrest triggered an avalanche of support on social media; his page going from 33,000 followers before the video to 100,000s followers within a few hours of the announcement. The hunt for the two young Egyptians went public and private with stories of the search filling media and social media. The Egyptian Actors’ Guild sanctioned Malek and suspended his membership.
The terrified young Malek issued a statement of apology explaining his take on the prank video that seemed to cause a grave threat to Egypt homeland security. “I am 20 years old and sometimes at that age ideas precede rational thinking,” he confessed. The New York Times reported that, “The actor also said that the prank was motivated by “frustration with the inability of my generation to express our opinions.” Malek added, “…but that does not give me the right to infringe upon others,” he admitted. “What annoys me most,” he concluded, “is that the video will be used to tarnish the revolution; and if it happens, I am the only one to blame,” he added.
Shady Abu Ziad was condemned by his own father, a former air force pilot, in a national TV interview, while his mother hired a prominent lawyer to represent her son in court. A 24/7 debate is raging in the media over this issue—an “important, pressing” one in Egypt—over the serious questions; Was the prank of giving condom balloons to police officers on their National holiday, an act of treason or love?
TV show hosts are also calling for the heads of the two young men with threats to their friends and families. “If it wasn’t for the police, you would have found the condom lying next to your mother,” screamed a TV show host. Mourtagga Mnsoure, the head of the Human Rights Committee in the Egyptian Parliament, known for his hyperbole trash talk, went on national TV and shockingly urged police to sexually assault the two young men. “If I were them (police) I would stick this pen inside their $#%&, you know what!” he gloated as he waved his pen in the air like a sword.
Why would the Egyptian police, who rape and torture thousands of Egyptians, be too sensitive for a condom joke? “A fascist regime relies heavily on a police force to strike fear in people’s hearts and minds,” explained Karim Reda, an Egyptian activist and labor union organizer. Since General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi came to power with a military coup that toppled the first civilian president elected in Egypt, he has gone on a power-grabbing binge. He has wiped out the opposition, jailing, killing and committing massacres, using tailored laws that criminalize any sign of dissent or protest. General Al-Sisi has shown no appetite for any freedom of expression or speech.
Now, the regime is going after these two teens accusing them of treason and “insulting the state” by playing a condom prank on a few police officers. In fact, in the last few years, nobody has insulted the state like General Al-Sisi and his regime. He has politicized the justice system, the police, the media, and has turned the Egyptian Parliament into a political whorehouse. If those two young men have committed a bad condom joke, then General Al-Sisi, who headed the forced virginity test program during the revolution, has been trying not only to put a condom over the Egyptians’ mouths, but also putting the biggest political condom over all of Egypt.
Ahmed Tharwat is host and producer of the Arab-American TV show BelAhdan, TPT Mondays, 10:30pm. On twitter @ahmediatv.