In a long-winded, 1600-word article, the NY Times suggests Egyptians will snap over the existing sugar shortage. It reckons Egyptians can’t possibly withstand such a crisis and will become unhinged over the lack in sugar. “Snap” as in break down, lose their minds, or even revolt is what the NY Times implies.
My first thought was who writes these posts? Surprisingly, the writers are two Egyptians. I also wondered if scarcity of sugar in Egypt was worth an article in the acclaimed NY Times. And finally, and most importantly, I wondered if Egyptians were shallow and frivolous enough to revolt over sugar scarcity.
The article cites the reasons behind the imminent “snapping”: Egyptians have a sweet tooth, which makes sugar an absolute must. For example, how on earth will Egyptians manage without the spoonfuls of sugar piled in their tea mugs? How will Egyptians make do without their national pudding, Om Ali? I guess we cannot appease Egyptians without Om Ali, or maybe they will die of hunger for the lack of it. I cringe from the triviality.
Ahmad El-Gebaly, the subsidized-goods store owner in Bulaq, is quoted saying, “Nobody can stand him [El-Sisi] anymore…Who can live without it [sugar]?” The assumption is El-Gebaly, representing the poor, used to believe in El Sisi and now can’t stand him anymore because sugar is scarce.
Then the article goes into the many challenges that Egypt faces, which Sisi’s “management of the economy and his overall rule” created: the free fall in the economy caused by political turbulence and militant attacks; the plummeting pound, now worth half its value; the collapse in tourism; the dwindling revenue from overseas workers; the 15.5 percent inflation rate; and the rift between Egypt and Saudi delaying shipment of discounted petroleum products “setting off fears of a deteriorating relation with an ally that has propped up Egypt with more than $25 billion.”
High time someone goes after the NY Times to exonerate Egyptians and their president.
NY Times, had you said that Egyptians cannot take the agony of watching their young men die fighting terrorism, I’d have agreed. Had you said Egyptians will snap because the world doesn’t see eye to eye with them, I’d have agreed. Had you said Egyptians want a better education and a better health care system, I’d have agreed. But to belittle from Egyptians and believe they’ll snap over sugar is farcical.
You may be right that Egypt is facing an uphill battle, but your attempt to discredit President Sisi, as the cause of these challenges, is faulted. It is due to President Sisi that Egypt has managed thus far to survive the above atrocities against it. It is only because Egyptians believe in President Sisi’s efforts that Egypt is where it is, stable and functioning, despite the hardships.
In case you don’t know, with the flurry of attacks on Egyptian soil and men, Egypt is unequivocally at war—a different kind of war altogether, one Egypt has not been exposed to before.
Egypt fought many wars against colonialists, invaders, occupiers, and conquerors, but a war against terrorism, it hasn’t, at least in this magnitude. Still, it is a bonafide war, one that may last for years, and more of a war than many of the preceding ones.
And dire times demand dire measures not only in Egypt but everywhere else.
During and after World War II, shortages and food restrictions were the name of the game. In 1940, Britain rationed not only sugar, but bacon and butter, too; bread was rationed in 1946, a year after the war ended. Rations lasted for 14 years, until 1954.
In wartime Canada, home canning, parks-turned-vegetable-gardens, food conservation were common. People were encouraged to raise farm animals such as chicken and rabbits even goats in their back yards.
Canada also rationed sugar, butter, tea, coffee, and meat at different times during World War II. Months of food shortages and a hike in food prices led to these rations. I wonder if the NY Times would’ve incited these strapped-for-food Brits and Canadians to snap.
The austerity measures that some European countries are enduring in this day and age is another eye opener. Even with the austerity measures that followed the bailouts from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, and the cut in minimum wage, the Greeks did not snap but are taking the measures in stride.
I could go on and on about shortages, austerity measures, and what countries have to endure to get over the humps they face.
The fact that Egyptian aren’t feeling a harsher pinch is due to the efforts exerted to provide the needy with subsidized food supplies. The reform in the food subsidy system allows approximately 20 million ration cards holders, over 80 percent of Egyptians, to enjoy subsidized bread and many other foodstuffs including tea, meat, rice, etc.
I also hate to disappoint you, NY Times; if there is anyone who can call on Egyptians to “tighten their belts,” so to speak, it is President Sisi. Egyptians understand the man’s efforts, and they are willing, even if not very happy, to comply.
No other leader could’ve taken such extreme measures, such as the cut in fuel and power subsidies, except President Sisi. Power subsidies have been cut twice thus far, and Egyptians are only now beginning to realize the need to conserve energy.
In the seventies, when President Sadat tried to abolish bread subsidies, riots shook the streets of Cairo. Egyptians had no clue that they will live to regret the colossal damage attributed to subsidies; forty years later, President Sisi is abolishing subsidies but protecting those in need simultaneously. He realizes subsidy cuts are not very appealing, but he also recognizes that it is measure that must be undertaken. And today Egyptians understand.
Maybe your writers should’ve asked Egyptians if they would pay more to see a decrease in the number of staggered power outages that used to last for hours on end. What was the use of cheap electricity when there wasn’t enough of it to go round?
Or maybe your writers could’ve written about other improvements: the slow eradication of Hepatitis C while selling the medication at a fraction of the cost and creating a successful blueprint for other countries to overcome this debilitating disease.
Or maybe your writers could’ve written about the thousands of new homes built to relocate an estimated 850,000 slum dwellers who used to live in informal settlements deemed unsafe and likely to collapse, an effort that will bring them dignity and respect.
More importantly, maybe your writers should have listened to the mother whose son died in an ambush in northern Sinai, who, despite her grief, said that if her son had to die, then this is the best death, the one for Egypt.
Egypt will prevail despite your efforts to demoralize and belittle from Egyptians. We will keep a united front against all those who wish us ill.