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Egypt

'We Are The Cogs' - An Imagined Memo To Egypt's New Interior Minister

Essay: A writer tries to imagine the mentality inside the Egyptian interior ministry, after a new crackdown has reasserted some control of the state's security apparatus. That protesters again paid the ultimate price may be of secondary concern i

Security forces in Cairo in December 2011 (Gigi Ibrahim)
Security forces in Cairo in December 2011 (Gigi Ibrahim)
Issandr El Amrani

CAIRO - With violence flaring again nearly a year after the Jan. 25 revolution began, an Egyptian writer pens an imaginary letter to the country's latest Interior Minister, courtesy of a would-be senior official inside the ministry. It is a portrayal of the sentiment within the security forces that may have led to recent bloodshed.

To: Mohamed Ibrahim, Interior Minister

From: A senior ministry official

Your Excellency,

I believe I speak for the entire ministry in extending you a warm welcome in your new position at the head of our august ministry. Your precedessor was a respectable man, a little too respectable perhaps, not altogether attuned to the bitterness that has taken over our ministry since the regrettable events of late January 2011.

With your leadership, Sir, we will complete the restoration of this ministry to its former glories, burnishing once again its glorious image, so unfairly tarnished by its enemies. It is to inform you of the state of mind of those of us at the ministry who have gone through these difficult times that I am writing to you.

It is true that we were caught by surprise by the conspiracy hatched against us that black month of January, when a day dedicated to our humble service and sacrifice was so cruelly perverted by some rabble, and that some degree of panic after that affected our morale.

I am glad to tell Your Excellency that a lasting recovery is well under way. This ministry has been poorly understood and suffered from the anti-Mubarak sentiment that has prevailed of late in the country. Too many still see us as associated with the former president, but it is only because they do not understand that we live to serve. This we should never forget: We are servants of the state, no matter who is in charge. As you well know, Sir, we run the police, the public administration, the borders, the traffic, and so much else still. We are the cogs in this great machine of state, the indispensable bits that make it run. At times, Sir, my old eyes weep at this thought: What would the Egyptian people do without us!? We are both smaller and bigger than any Mubarak or Sadat or Nasser, great men as they undoubtedly were.

Yet we seek no special recognition — such is our devotion to our great country.

We here at Lazoghly ministry headquarters are happy to see that our friends in the military have began to recognize not only our usefulness, but also our patriotism. They should never forget that our fate is shared, now that they too have been put in the position of doing the difficult, unpopular but necessary work of restoring public order. This can at times be a bloody affair.

I cannot tell you how thrilled my men were to hear that one of your first decisions as minister would be to give them license to shoot-to-kill the thugs, foreign agents and troublemakers that have plagued our glorious nation for the past year. In one bold stroke, you have restored their self-confidence, and it was not even necessary to give them a bonus in the exercise of this license. You have not only told them, but the entire country, that they are in the right at a time when we are being confused with more talk of human rights and such. But the people will look at your decision and approve, for they know better: The thugs that threaten their families and belongings do not have rights.

Needless to say, we must remain vigilant, dear Sir. There are those who would make friends with our former enemies, including the Muslim Brothers, and the political agitators that would sacrifice the stability of our nation for some vague ideas. Perhaps they are afraid for themselves. We should remind them that we, the servants of the state, must stand together against the opportunists and politicians who would gamble with the fate of Egypt!

Read the story in full in Al-Masry Al-Youm

Photo - Gigi Ibrahim

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