Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Egypt's emos, the latest hate figures

The backlash against angsty teenagers in skinny jeans reflects a country looking for scapegoats to ease the dire political malaise

Jack Shenker, Wednesday 6 May 2009

".....Confronted with this mysterious artistic phenomenon, the authorities did what any sensible, level-headed authority would do – they panicked, called in state security agents, and began rounding up suspects.......

The exposure of the graffiti's true creators did nothing to curb the collective panic now seizing the opinion columns and chat shows of the Arab world's largest country. In fact if anything, it intensified......

Two forces have a vested interest in hyping up the threat of what amounts to little more than a few well-off, bored teenagers hanging around in shopping malls. One is the government. As a recent column in independent daily El-Dostour argued, President Mubarak's regime has lost all legitimacy amongst Egyptians both politically and culturally, a state of affairs it seeks to reverse by inventing both internal and external enemies of the state and portraying itself as the last hope for the soon-to-be-besieged Egyptian populace. Mubarak's stance on Gaza won him no friends at home; consequently the official papers are suddenly full of details about a Hezbollah terror unit operating clandestinely in the Sinai, with its sights levelled on Cairo. Culturally the government likes to style itself as a last bastion of Islamic values, the irony of which is obvious to anyone witness to the daily security clampdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood. So now emos are the latest hate-figures; their strange looks and vague connections to undefined, sordid western values makes them the perfect foil for a dictatorship on the back foot.

The most depressing aspect of it all is that far from taking the demonisation of emos for the shallow hypocrisy that it is, some conservative Islamist groups – vested interest number two – are singing to the government's tune....."

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