A Week of Laughter and Forgetting: Day Four
A year after its outbreak, Youssef Rakha lists seven of the more revealing flights of humour that have punctuated the Egyptian revolution and its aftermath
The accusation of working for the Masons was first levelled at Wael Ghoneim, the Google employee who had started the “We Are All Khalid Said” Page on Facebook — a reference to the young man who had been brutally killed by police without charge in Alexandria in 2010 — which proved crucial to the rallying for protesters. Ghoneim was in fact abducted by State Security as early as 28 January, subjected to sensory deprivation, and on his release on 2 February, nine days before Mubarak stepped down, seemed far less enthusiastic about the revolution.
What in God’s name Masons could possibly have to do with either Ghoneim or 25 January remains an open question, but it was the conflation of Masons with Shias (Iranians), Hamas (Palestinians) and Israelis (sometimes just Jews), not to mention of course Americans, that fed the never-ending string of wisecracks and witticisms emerging out of Tahrir Square and surrounds. The Conspiracy came up repeatedly, and the Conspiracy had to be fought against by honourable citizens.
The Conspiracy was the revolution, but wait…
According to the founder and owner of Al Fara’een Channel, the former National Democratic Party MP Tawfik Okasha (who, naturally enough, lost the elections), the Masonic Conspiracy takes place in stages: first the revolution, then the Brother Muslimhood takeover, and finally the splitting up of Egypt into smaller states.
By the time Okasha became among the staples of post-revolutionary discourse, of course, many of the jokes were no longer jokes as such: they were opinions, viewpoints and visions of the future of Egypt; but in the case of Okasha, for example, they were so absurd they functioned just as well.