I have been reminded recently of an awful joke about Egyptians that I cannot help but share.
It’s back in the days of Mubarak, and the US is worried about looking bad funding a dictatorship, so they tell Mubarak he needs to show everyone how tolerant he is of dissent. “But how?” he asks.
“Simple”, the envoy informs him,”just give some ground to a protest movement”.
“But there are no protest movements in Egypt!”, complains Mubarak.
“Well you’ll have to find a way to create one,” says the envoy with the finality of empire.
Mubarak and his aids decide, once the envoy has left, to put a toll on every bridge across the Nile, a pound every time people travel from East to West. Nothing happens. So they raise the toll to 2 pounds, and charge it going both ways. Still nothing.
“Right,” says Mubarak “enough of this, we’ll put a soldier on every bridge, and as well as paying the toll, you have to get fucked in the arse by him before you can cross. Surely that will get them protesting.”
The next day, sure enough, a crowd forms outside the palace, demanding attention. Mubarak asks for a delegation to be sent in. They arrive, major secular leaders, Azhar Sheikhs and Coptic priests amongst them.
They are ushered in and take their seats before Mubarak’s desk. “Well?” he says,”What’s the problem”
The delegations spokesperson, in this version an established expert on nuclear diplomacy, speaks firmly, with all the conviction of a true Egyptian liberal:
“We demand more soldiers on the bridges. The traffic is moving too slowly.”