Egyptians are Filled with Anger over the Tragic Losses
Last week more than 45 people died in Beni Suef governorate, among the dead people, there were children who were under the age of 10.
A total of 32 people were killed when a fire broke out in an Egyptian theater during a crowded performance last Monday, causing hundreds of audience members to flee the burning building in panic. Some were killed in the stampede when about 1,000 people were trying to get out of the theater in Beni Suef, a city on the Nile river about 60 miles south of Cairo. Survivors said that only one exit was available as the audience stampeded in panic.
The anger is filling many Egyptians, including me on the sad loss of the innocent lives. Some 150 Egyptian artists and writers filed suit against three government ministers Thursday.
At the same place, thirteen people, mostly children aged 11 or 12 on their way to work in fields, were killed last weekend when a farm tractor pulling a trailer fell into an irrigation canal.
That was an email I received from a friend of mine who said goodbye to his friends he lost in the fire.
"I have just come back from the collective memorial event held at the Egyptian academy of Arts. The disastrous incident claimed the lives some of the most prominent names in the "middle generation" of Egyptian theatre critics and artists, including: Hazem Shehata, Medhat Abu-Bakr, Ahmed Abdel-Hamid, Mohsen Moselhy, Saleh Saad, Bahaa El-Merghany, and others. Their deaths have dealt a devastating blow to an already aggrieved cultural and theatrical community.
Unfortunately, this tragedy was not a terrorist act. I say unfortunately because this would at least have made the death of those victims somewhat less absurd. For everyone I saw at the funeral, grief was hard to distinguish from resentment and anger, since the tragic event has highlighted in the most painful manner the scandalous indifference that the Egyptian State has long been showing the provinces outside Cairo and Alexandria, as the abject condition of the Beni Suef makeshift theatre and its lack of the most basic safety precautions must have demonstrated.
Ironically, the event occurs only one day before the first multi-candidate presidential elections in Egypt. As it happens, our 70-something President, in office since 1981, runs for a fifth consecutive term on a platform the promises the completion of the process of progress that he claims to have initiated.
Some of the families of the victims are planning to take the Egyptian Ministry of culture to court."
Government officials responsible for Beni Suef inferno must be brought to justice and be held accountable.