In Translation: Hamlet Abu Ismail

I am myself indifferent honest;
but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
were better my mother had not borne me: I am very
proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at
my beck than I have thoughts to put them in,
imagination to give them shape, or time to act them
in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves,
all; believe none of us.

Hamlet, act III

Yesterday’s ruling by the Cairo administrative court that it has insufficient evidence has been prematurely heralded as victory for the campaign of nutty-but-scary Islamist-populist Hazem Abu Ismail. It’s not hard to understand that the judge presiding the case, surrounded by a hyper-excited crowd of Hazemoon (as Abu Ismail supporters are called) chanting about jihad, may have decided on a cop-out judgement to protect his own life and that of other court staff. The victory lap the Hazemoon carried out in Cairo and subsequent respite in their activism may then provide the time for the judge to obtain more conclusive evidence from the Ministry of Interior, as he has requested, even though he had pretty conclusive proof from the Ministry of Interior. (Funny how so much of Egypt’s bonkers transition is in the details of obscures laws, regulations and their implementation — a perfect environment for lawfare-as-politics.) And if on some technicality, Abu Ismail’s clearly American mother does not prevent him from being a candidate, it will be just one more incongruity of a legal landscape that has been nonsensical since last March, when a constitutional declaration that no one got to vote on was promulgated by SCAF.

There are many ironies to what’s called in Egypt the “Mama Amreeka” scandal — a term usually used to highlight Egypt’s clientelistic relationship with the US — and these have made good fodder for columnists. This week, we chose a piece by Amr Ezzat in which he focuses on the Abu Ismail mindset — jingoistic, conspirational, xenophobic and insular — being precisely the underpinning of the provisions that bar candidates with dual-national parents from being eligible to be president of Egypt. For once there’s an article in the Egyptian press that praises America…

Translation is, as always, provided by the good folks at Industry Arabic, who rock. One hears they know Hans Wehr personally.

Hamlet Abu Ismail: When is an American Mother not American?

By Amr Ezzat, al-Masri al-Youm, 4 April 2011

I wondered: Who had the imagination to start a rumor that Hazem Salah Abu Ismail’s mother was an American citizen?

That was a few days ago before it became apparent that the rumor may have true. As inquiries into the matter near completion, the outcome is likely to determine whether or not the most controversial candidate will participate in the presidential race. If his mother did obtain American citizenship, his candidacy will be barred.

In the first article I wrote here for Al-Masry Al-Youm, I said that what is happening in the revolution – in all simplicity, and complication – is that imagination is overthrowing reality and dragging it through Cairo’s streets. And here in the citizenship dispute, we see fantasy continuing its course.

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Egypt: Abu Ismail's campaign against US aid

The above graphic is from the Facebook page of presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, aka the world's cuddliest Salafi. It says "Buy your dignity for only LE72".

The calculation it makes is that Egypt's $1.3bn in US military aid amounts to about LE6bn, which divided by 84 million Egyptians makes just about LE72. What a bargain! Of course Sheikh Hazem — a Salafi from the Muslim Brotherhood (the MB-Salafi distinction becomes irrelevant away from syndicate and national politics) — is always full of brilliant ideas. His entry on Wikipedia says he "has presented 10 great national projects in all fields to overcome most of the Egyptian people problems." I'll have to do a fuller profile at some point.

Yet another sign that the US-Egypt NGO crisis is plumbing into new depths of facile populism. Of course, not only on the Egyptian side.