Okasha, on the Occasion of Shoes

فهد الخيطان

Like many others besides myself, I have learned of Tawfek Okasha but have not listened to or watched him, even after his sweeping win in the latest Egyptian parliamentary elections. His last low move a few days ago; hosting the Israeli ambassador at his home in Cairo, and what angry reactions followed to the point that he was hit with a shoe in Parliament, all comprise the “good” time to review this “big-time” journalist’s career who has been the centre of the Egyptian people’s attention since his establishment of “Al Faraeen” channel.

One is taken by shock and awe after watching parts of his programme on Youtube. A vacant clown of the lowest kind, who cannot handle the very ABCs of analysis; making up silly fantasies, without the minimal level of knowledge of history or of historical events. Nevertheless, he does not be-humbled when he presents himself as a political specialist, a historian, and an expert in international affairs. Above all, the real catastrophe is that there are millions around Egypt and the Arab World who listen to him, and that they have carried him into parliament to represent them.

This “Talk Show” Okasha is a representation of the lowest years of Arab media and journalism. A nut-job with clear signs of psychological problems all over his face, is put by the people as a legislator and a monitor over governments, to speak for them.

This is the ultimate tragedy for media and politics, as well as for the populace that has recently become instinctively controlled by the media on many levels; behavioural, emotional, and directional, all on the expense of their values and intellect.

But the Okasha phenomena is not unique to Egypt and the Arab World; not only is it not so to media, it is not found in scenes of politics, economics, and arts. Be a clown on TV or in Parliament, and you are definitely bound to become a star. There is nothing more important that fame. You only need to have some weird attributes and abnormal positions, to capture people’s hearts and mind.

Moreover, the populace are simpler than we thought they were; they pay more attention to Okasha’s analysis than they did to Heikal’s, and they stay up to watch Amro Adib scream and Faisal Al Qasim ecstatically, while completely dismissing a deep conversation with a thinker whom has spent his life in studies and research. Governments in turn gallop behind silliness and abnormalities; the rise of Okasha for example was not pointless.

The silliness he preaches every night on screen is full of vulgarities that would be enough to put him away for life. But he goes to jail only to be released a hero; his popularity increases and so does funding for “Al Faraain”.

This wasn’t how people were before this obscure era of the “Media”. Egypt especially has an extensive and elaborate history of media and journalism; Ahmad Saeed Khair as an example. And whatever it is that we think of Ahmad Saeed, there is no comparison to be made with today’s phenomenal characters. Egypt —not long ago, was the model country when it came to the politicians and economists they had. Even in the times of Mubarak, a nut-case like Tawfek Okashah would not have ever even dreamt of making it into parliament.

But in Egypt, as well as in other Arab countries, Okasha-like people are everywhere; in parliament, state, and capital. These indeed are the lowest times.

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