A Conversation Between a Presidential Candidate and an Important Person

A Presidential Candidate: Good morning, sir.

An Important person: Good to see you. Where have you been? It's been ages since we heard from you.

C: Well, I've been busy with my election campaign. I visit a different province every day and hold rallies until I'm totally exhausted.

IP: Buck up. Nothing comes easy.

C: I'm your disciple, sir. You set us an example and taught us how to give endlessly.

IP: Do you need anything?

C: Not at all, thank you sir. I thought I'd call to congratulate you on the Abbasia operation. It really was wonderful. You gave those trouble-making kids an important lesson.

IP: Thank God. The operation was carefully planned and organized. In fact the State Security officers did a great job.

C: Those State Security officers are true patriots and they know their duty. We could never do without them. Preserving State Security was a very wise decision.

IP: Of course. If we had done what the kids in Tahrir Square said and abolished State Security, we'd be in a real mess by now. No Egyptian government could do without the State Security officers. They're the only people who know how to control the country.

C: The nicest thing about the Abbasia operation was that the people who sorted out the trouble-makers weren't army or police. They were ordinary Egyptians who were fed up with the chaos so they went out and beat the people at the sit-in to death. Really upright citizens.

IP (laughing): They were indeed upright citizens; they made plenty of money.

C: Whatever, sir, it's no great loss. Now that the kids know no one will let them demonstrate, the country will calm down and stabilize, and production will resume. We can't have them objecting and demonstrating against every decision the government makes.

IP: That's all in the past. From now on if anyone plans to cause trouble we'll deal with them firmly. Even the families of the detainees went to the military courts, and as soon as they started chanting, the military police came out and gave them a good thrashing and taught them how to behave.

C: God bless you, sir. My God, I sometimes say if we had dealt firmly with the kids from the start, President Mubarak would still be honored and respected.

IP: It's Adli's fault. He misjudged the situation. In the end it's all destiny.

C: I feel sorry for President Mubarak. You know it's his birthday today?

IP: I know, I called him to say happy birthday, God be with him.

C: A fine man; always has been... There are several important matters I'd like to discuss with you.

IP: Nothing wrong, I hope?

C: You know, sir, how the young people sit on the Internet all day long monitoring everything. Well there's a video clip on the Internet showing the thugs who beat up the demonstrators getting out of army trucks and there's a woman who appeared on the Dream channel saying she saw with her own eyes the thugs getting weapons from the Waily police station.

IP: And what else?

C: Sheikh Hafez Salama keeps saying that military policemen stormed the Noor mosque with their boots on, fired bullets and arrested the people praying and the girls in the mosque.

IP: So?

C: I mean that State Security could put pressure on the media so that these stories don't have any effect on public opinion.

IP: State Security gave clear instructions to the journalists and the writers who work with them to calm people down, but I want to tell you something: These videos, reports from witnesses and whatever sheikh so-and-so said -- things like that used to matter to us, but that's all over. If someone wants to take pictures, let them. We are the way we are and that's how we operate and we'll do the same thing every time there's trouble. From now on, if someone wants to demonstrate, they have to understand that they might be killed at any moment. If they're in fear for their lives they'll return to mommy and won't act tough. We have to purge the country of all these troublesome kids. Today I read statements by Sheikh Galil from the Islamic Studies Centre. Know what he said?

C: What did he say?

IP: The great sheikh said the government in any Muslim country has the right to kill a third of the people for the sake of the other two thirds. That's the view of Islam and we're Muslims, thank God.

C: Praise be to God, sir, that's the right thing to say.

IP: So let them take pictures if they want. We're on the alert and from now on if anyone causes trouble we'll break his neck.

C: I'm really impressed, sir. You always have a clear view of the future. You always help me to see clearly, organize my thoughts and show things I can't see by myself. God bless you, sir, and save you for Egypt.

IP: I want to say something. Teaching those trouble-making kids a lesson doesn't mean that we break the law.

C: Of course not, sir. You've taught us to respect the law.

IP: Absolutely. Egypt is a state with institutions. If someone has evidence they should submit it to the public prosecutor, and you know he takes action immediately.

C: Of course. The prosecutor is a fine man.

IP: In fact the prosecutor has rare and extraordinary legal experience.

C: Have I taken too much of your time, sir?

IP: I know you too well. You've always been a chatterbox. What else do you want? (They laugh)

C: Forgive me, sir. You've put up with me too much.

IP: Come on, man. Spit it out!

C: You know I've now taken on some difficult responsibilities. I've tried my hardest, as you taught me. Anyone who works in Egypt is bound to have enemies, people who are enemies to their success. People full of envy and rancor, who like to cast doubt on anyone who's respectable and make false accusations against them.

IP: That's enough rhetoric, get to the point.

C: You know how after President Mubarak stepped down, people with grudges submitted complaints about you. They were all spiteful complaints, God knows, sir. That was more than a year ago. Then suddenly a week ago they summoned me for questioning. Do you approve of that, sir?

IP: What do you want me to do for you?

C: I served Egypt with complete honesty and integrity. From you, sir, I learned self-denial and sacrifice for love of Egypt. And after all that they come and question me?

IP: If you're clean, why worry about the questioning?

C: I'm not worried about that, sir. That matters to me is to have your approval. If you're happy with me I'll go to be questioned with an easy mind.

IP: I couldn't possibly interfere in any investigation.

C: You can cut out my tongue, sir, before I ask you to interfere in the investigation. I learned from you to respect the law. All I want to know before I go to be questioned is whether I have your approval or not. I'm worried I might unwittingly have done something to make you angry.

IP: Lord preserve you, you are insistent!

C: Please, sir, set my mind at ease. Are you satisfied with me?

IP: I'm satisfied with you. Reassured?

C (sighing): Thank God. As long as you're happy with me, I can go and be questioned with my mind at ease.

IP: OK, I'd better go back to work.

C: Sir, I'm imposing on your generosity, but there's something else that's very important.

IP: Let's leave it for another time.

C: No, I beg you, sir. It's something that can't wait.

IP: Come on then, spit it out and let's get it over with.

C: Sir, from you I learned democracy and respect for the will of the people, but the country's going through a delicate stage. The country's on a knife edge. The presidential elections are approaching and the opinion polls are very disturbing. The president of Egypt should be a major figure who's sensible and wise and knows how to bring the country to safe haven. Sir, can we hand the country over to an extremist such as Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh or a Nasserist such as Hamdin Sabahi or that kid Khaled Ali the communist? These are people who go in for slogans and demonstrations; people who've never had any responsibility. If any of them win the elections it would be a disaster.

IP: The great Egyptian people can tell chalk from cheese.

C: Quite right, sir.

IP: I assure you the presidential elections will be clean.

C: Completely clean, sir.

IP: After the elections the result will be declared by the Supreme Electoral Commission. The commission's decisions cannot be appealed. If anyone casts doubt on the election results or tries to trump us, we have ways to silence them.

C: Very well, sir. That's all well and fine. I know that Egyptians are a great people and very savvy, and I'm sure the elections will be fair. But I'm anxious. The presidency is a serious position and if any of those three -- Aboul Fotouh or Hamdin Sabahi or Khaled Ali -- won and became president, it would be a disaster. Not a single one of them is stable. If one of them ruled Egypt for a week God knows where the country would end up.

IP: Don't worry.

C: I wish you'd say something to reassure me, sir.

IP: I tell you, don't worry.

C: What does that mean?

IP: What, don't you understand Arabic? I tell you don't worry, I mean don't worry.

C: OK. I understand. God save you for Egypt, sir.

IP: Come on then, goodbye. You've taken up my time. I have a long day ahead.