Violence, Rising Prices Deal Blow to Valentine Day in Egypt
For two years now, Egyptians have forgotten everything about Valentine Day. Certainly, there is no place for love or romanticism amidst such violence. Anyone that would look at young men and women in streets or at cafes would promptly realize that love has been nipped in the bud.
Egyptians used to buy teddy bears, roses and red hearts for their partners, but all this is now part of the good old days."Love begets love" we used to say, but as hope has gone, despair has been sinking its teeth into the lives of Egyptians.
In the aristocratic districts, like Zamalek, or slums and poor places like Bolaq, one would find shops that sell gifts and decoration for lovers. On this day too, mobile companies score their highest records as they make special offers for young people who celebrate the event with lengthy night phone talks.
Unfortunately, hatred replaced love and violence took the floor from romance and emotions. Rape and sexual harassment have become a daily routine as no young girl or woman could walk alone safely downtown, let alone in remote areas. How can the noble emotion of love exist amidst a flare-up of violence across the country?
Dailies continue to publish rape stories on their front pages side by side with the President’s activity and cabinet meetings.
Violence together with rising prices left their heavy fingerprints on Egypt’s tolerant society. Instead of the lipstick and pocket mirror in every girl's bag, a long and sharp knife is there to stab any brazen or impudent sexual harasser.
With the escalating economic crisis, the collapse of the Egyptian pound against the dollar and the increase of unemployment rates, love has jumped from the window.
Many young people, most of them jobless, are ashamed to ask their parents for pocket money to buy gifts for their partners .Even if they dare, they would hear nearly the same reply: “It’d better to buy you food and pay the sky rocketing electricity bills” .Sometimes, young Egyptians hear their parents grumble: “We give sweat, and tears to feed you but don't ask us to get blood from stone”.
Imported into Egypt from the West and not a part of our own native calendar or traditions, Valentine's Day has turned into a modern-day festival, a significant one. There are many reasons why Valentine's Day has stood out amongst armloads of other such imports like Father's Day, Friendship Day and of course Mother’s Day. The 14th of February, which stands for romance, continues to hold its eternal and magical universal sway. It's deeply exciting for couples and quite motivating for those who aren't involved in a love relationship. Only the hard-hearted could quibble with this fact.
But now with people raising slogans like the Day of Anger, Day of Defiance and Day of Salvation, who would care about Valentine or even love in this gloomy and dim atmosphere?
Young people now mock at the occasion saying that they would prefer Cupid to own a factory to employ them or be a billionaire to help Egypt’s economy. Accordingly, people now wish Cupid was a Santa capable of realizing their dreams. What a change of hearts and mentalities! Mohammed Ali Ibrahim is the former editor of the Egyptian Gazette.