Wednesday, 24 March 2010
From entrepreneur-lawmakers to pop star-lawmakers: Tamer Hosni might follow Shobeir's lead into Magles El-Sha'ab
Just yesterday, I blogged about Abdel Bari Atwan's article in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi where he lamented the decline of the political and strategic discourses in Egyptian policy-making in favour of the "gains and losses" approach of Egyptian entrepreneurs-turned-politicians. Perhaps Atwan needed to discuss the ascendant force of pop star-MPs as well - after all, not only are many of them intertwined with entrepreneurial figures, they also contribute to the decline of politically, developmentally and strategically-motivated policy-making in favour of "trendier", "cooler" and "sexier" policy-making?
Masrway.com ran a piece by Ahmad El-Dosouki yesterday on the increasing pressure upon Egyptian pop star, Tamer Hosni, to run for upcoming parliamentary elections in the El-Haram electoral district. Hosni enjoys popularity both on the Egyptian and Arab pop scene, but also in El-Haram for his philanthropic and charity work in the district. According to El-Dosouki, Hosni's developmental and charity work for El-Haram has far exceeded that of the district's MPs.
Tamer Hosni has neither confirmed nor denied his will to run for El-Haram MP in Egypt's upcoming parliamentary elections. Hosni's relationship with both the ruling NDP and opposition forces also remains ambiguous or unclear to many.
The legal aspects of Tamer Hosni's eligibility to run for the parliamentary elections are another issue. One commentator on El-Dosouki's article reminded fellow readers that running for membership in Egypt's parliament requires candidates to be 40 years of age or older (I dispute this claim given that Shahinaz El-Naggar for instance was younger than 40 when she was elected to the legislature). More importantly however, Hosni also has criminal record and was imprisoned for evading compulsory military conscription years ago.
Similar to Hosni, other pop culture personalities made it into the Egyptian legislature rubbing shoulders with businessmen and entrepreneurs in directing Egypt's domestic, economic and foreign policies - leaving the Muslim Brotherhood to monopolise the opposition to an increasingly "trendy" and "cost-benefit" take on law and policy-making.
The debate over popular culture figures in Egypt's legislature surfaced to the attention of local and international media recently when famous footballer and former leader of the Egyptian national football league, Captain Ahmad Shobeir, made headlines just over a month ago. Shobeir, who represents Tanta in Egypt's Magles El-Sha'ab, and Muslim Brotherhood MP, Yosri Bayoumi, exchanged insults and engaged in a fist fight under the dome of the Egyptian legislature in a heated Labour Force Committee debate over striking Tanta Linen Factory workers. The fight started when Yosri Bayoumi accused "the thieves" of "selling the country" in reference to neo-liberal privatisation policies and the inter-marriage between political and entrepreneurial interests in Egypt since the mid-1990s. one blogger even suggested Shobeir was a part of a governmental conspiracy to bring an end to the Tanta Linen Factory workers' strike and exposed his role in silencing the strike, creating rifts between strikers and his relationship with the Saudi investor Abdel Elah El-Kahky.
Only a few articles remain accessible online on "the Shobeir incident" including those run by Al-Diwan and Egypty. Videos of the parliamentary incident can also be accessed from Masreat.