Having lived in complete chaos for many years, Egyptians have come to believe that chaotic behaviour is an Egyptian cultural trait, part of their DNA, and that we are by nature a chaotic people. The reality is that chaos is consciously sustained by the Egyptian state, to facilitate its authoritarian rule. It is simply one of the fundamental ruling tools of the state.
Egypt is a country that lacks basic discipline, where breaking the law is the norm and abiding by it often comes at a higher price. Full-fledged chaos is clearly apparent at night, when law-breakers flex their muscles by explicitly bending all the written laws. Thousands of motorcycles travel the streets without licence plates, heavyweight trucks break the speed limits on highways, and wealthy youth tend to race their cars on key thoroughfares. Anyone with the intention of committing an illegal act will find Egyptian nights to be most welcoming.
Chaos is a large umbrella designed to conceal and justify lawbreakers’ activities. Although, by default, chaos is defined as a haphazard activity, in reality chaos in Egypt is framed and managed by the Egyptian state! Chaos is used as a tool to pressurise both innocent citizens and law-breakers into valuing the role of the state (upstanding citizens will demand to receive their missing rights, and lawbreakers will request that a blind eye be turned on their illegal activities). The purpose is to value chaos per se, and to better manipulate Egyptian citizens by further empowering corrupt statesmen who are supposed to bring order and justice to the country.
Chaos in Egypt involves and benefits rich and poor citizens equally; violent activities are obviously committed by criminals, but they are financed and planned by wealthy Egyptians. Meanwhile, the government’s disregard of chaos constitutes a kind of implicit approval. In Egypt, breaking the law is sometimes a fast and easy solution to all our disputes. The spread and magnitude of chaos provides an excellent cover that enables lawbreakers to function better, while abiding by the law leads citizens to question whether they will ever realise justice! Furthermore, realising true security and equality for citizens is bound to reduce the privileges that many government entities, as well as law-breakers, currently enjoy.
The citizens who argue that Egyptians are by nature undisciplined and that it is difficult to make them obey orders are the ones who enjoy privileges and benefit from the absence of rule of law. Egyptians who live abroad do not face cultural adaptation difficulties – they either abide by the laws of their respective host countries or they go to prison.
Law-breakers are fully aware of the government’s ‘chaos framework’ and its ‘virtual redline’. Almost two years ago, the car of the Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt was stolen and his security guard killed in the process. In less than two days, the police managed to arrest the criminals and bring them to court where they confessed that, had they been aware of the car owner’s identity, they would never have committed the crime. In contrast to this incident, thousands of similar crimes occur regularly, and the criminals responsible are not prosecuted. The Egyptian security forces have the capacity to reduce crime occurrence. They intentionally do not do so, in order to maintain chaos as a ruling tool.
Our country’s chaotic state benefits a number of corrupt officials and citizens at the expense of the Egyptian economy, and of citizens who are not comfortable with resorting to illegal measures to get things done. The chaos on the streets that we observe on a daily basis is simply a reflection of our government’s internal bureaucracy. Chaos certainly discourages investors, who not only seek a return on their investment, but also want to be able to clearly monitor the path of their investment flow, a condition that is currently absent.
Many Egyptians were convinced that the rampant chaos in the country was deliberately ignored in the wake of the revolution; citizens were to experience this severe chaos until, eventually, the elected president would bring order to the streets. Well, almost 15 months after President Al-Sisi’s election, not only does chaos continue to be widespread, it is actually increasing to become an essential functioning ruling tool. Authorities are resisting democracy because it will bring order and equality – which in turn will diminish their current dominating position and reduce the privileges they enjoy in society.