Wahid Hamed: If the responsibility is too much for Sisi, he should leave

As usual, prominent writer Wahid Hamed entered another mine field, which he loves to do. In an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, he said that if the responsibility is too much for Sisi, he should leave. 
Hamed did not hide his pessimism vis-a-vis the future. “We are not going in the right direction,” he said. He also said that security solutions alone are not enough to fight terrorism and that the security services are weak, hence the chaos taking place in society. 
He said the government of Ibrahim Mehleb should repair the damage that was done, not add insult to injury.
Q: How would you evaluate President Sisi? Are we going in the right direction?
A: I have many reservations on the political performance in general, and for sure we are not going in the right direction, for decisions are slow and haphazard. I did not expect this from Sisi.
Q: Cn problems be solved in just a few months or years?
A: I did not request to solve problems that have accumulated over years in just a few months. I know there are many complications. I only request discipline in the street. If this happens, citizens will feel there is improvement and will trust that the government is moving forward towards reform. There are simple things that only need a political decision and a will to implement it. This can have a huge impact.
Q: What do you mean by discipline the street?
A: The chaos in the street. The traffic crisis. It all boils down to corruption. The traffic police are not doing their job as should be. The infrastructure is ruined and there is no police to guard it. Street vendors are all over the place. And when they are removed, they come back again. 
A chaotic society can never advance. I feel that the security services and the government are asleep. There is no honest intention to apply the law decisively.
Q: Do you disapprove of Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim?
A: I am not talking about a particular person. I am talking about the whole system. When 11,000 policemen are dismissed on charges of corruption, then they are returned to their jobs, what does that mean?
Q: Some may say you are too harsh on the police, especially that they are busy fighting terrorism. What would you say to that?
A: We should not talk like this or we would be admitting failure. The police department is not a housewife that keeps complaining of too much housework.
The police department must cleanse itself from the corrupt. The administrative apparatus, the police and the municipalities are all rotten. They are still repositories of corruption. 
Q: Don’t you think the officials know that?
A: Yes they do. In fact they know even more than that. That is why I blame President Sisi. Why does he not cleanse the whole government apparatus? Why does he not dismiss the officials who do not do their job right? Didn’t he say so in his last speech?
Q: Do you think it is a matter of limited financial means?
A: I admit that the government is broke, and I admit that the previous regimes taught the people to be idle. They want the government to feed them. 
I once asked a young man why he wants to work for the government. He said because there you get paid without having to work.
Limited financial means should not be an obstacle for reform. Bold decisions must be taken. We must enforce discipline in the street and dispense with the excess employment in the government.
Q: But what will happen to them?
A: They will be victims. We cannot keep spoiling them.
Q: Would you say the real problem is that the government does not have a clear vision?
A: Of course there is no vision or planning, and there is no sincere intention to find solutions. Take the traffic crisis for example. The government is the one causing it. It keeps talking moving to the new cities and continues to build more installations. Mehleb is a nice guy, but his government talks much and achieves little.
Q: But isn’t he is always among the people in the street? We’ve never seen this before.
A: So what? I too am always among the people in the street. I want him to be in his office planning. In fact, this is up to Sisi to make sure of. Let me say it bluntly: If the legacy is too heavy for Sisis he should leave.
Q: But aren’t people sick of changing the prime minister every few months?
A: A revolution changes reality not ministers. This has not happened after two revolutions. It is certainly the responsibility of both the president and the people. The people must start working and must abandon the begging culture that the Mubarak and Morsy regimes planted in them. But they will not do so unless they have a strong leader who rewards and punishes.
Q: Why did terrorism move from Sinai to the heart of the capital, targeting civilians in subways?
A: This is the methodology of the Muslim Brotherhood. They spread horror and panic among the people and at the same time send a message to the regime that they are still there. The government must fight terrorism with an iron fist.
Q: What do you think of the slogan: No voice is louder than the fight against terrorism?
A: I do not want this to serve as a scapegoat for the government’s failure. The government must fight terrorism with development and discipline. Security encounters alone are not enough.
Q: What would the next parliament be like?
A: This is a big question mark. There are political cells hidden beneath the surface that we do not know how and when they will appear. I personally believe that the Salafis are much more dangerous than the Muslim Brotherhood. There was more of them than the Brotherhood in the Rabaa sit-in.
Q: But isn’t the Nour Party an authorized entity?
A: It is a wolf disguised in a lamb.
Q: Do you think the Salafis will win many seats in parliament?
A: The ordinary people might elect them, for they pay bribes like the Brotherhood. And the other parties are absent from the scene.
Q: Why are they absent if they are not being persecuted like before?
A: They are not honest, and they have no grass roots.
Q: So who will win the majority in parliament?
A: He who pays more.
Q: Is Egypt prepared for a parliament with wide constitutional powers?
A: No. Constitutions are made according to the needs and the culture of each stage. Egypt’s Constitution is different than Switzerland’s, where culture is higher.
In a country with a 40 percent poverty rate and countless problems in health, education and services, the constitution should give powers to the executive branch.
Q: Do you want to change it?
A: Not now. 
Q: The young want a place. They don’t want to see politicians like Amr Moussa and Kamal al-Ganzouri.
A: They are over 75. They must leave to give a chance to the young. Sisi himself said we need fresh blood. Why does he not do something about it?
Q: What do you think of the young who criticize President Sisi and say the revolution has derailed, although they are not activists or Islamists?
A: I feel the same. They want actions not slogans.
Q: The media has become the opposition to the government in the absence of parliament and political parties. What do you make of that?
A: The state media is completely forgotten, and the private media has its own personal interests.
Q: The media that does not applaud the regime is coined Brotherhood or fifth column. What do you think of that?
A: Those who applaud the regime should be more objective because this way they will expose the real fifth column. It is a pity that the Egyptian viewers trust certain Gulf channels because they are more objective.
Q: Are you concerned about freedoms in Egypt, especially after talk show hosts like Yosri Fouda, Reem Maged and Dina Abdel Rahman were dismissed?
A: Nobody knows why they were dismissed. They should come out and tell us. We have the right to know.
Q: Do you think big national projects will save the economy?
A: Cleaning the streets and controlling traffic are tasks as big as the Suez Canal project.
Q: What about the problem of unemployment?
A: The young are part of that problem. They don’t want to work in desert but are willing to go and work in Libya.
Q: What about the violence and the superficiality we see in the movies?
A: These films talk to an audience that is crunched socially. These people want to forget the misery they are in and go see a film that makes them laugh for a change.
The function of art is to educate you without you noticing it. But these movies came out in the absence of any censorship.
Q: Would you say Sobky the producer spoiled public taste?
A: Sobky is clever. He could make good movies if he wanted. I once awarded him a prize for a film he had produced when I was the head judge of the National Cinema Festival.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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