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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Grim Egyptian Humor

At this point it’s clear to pretty much anyone with a TV set or an internet connection that the Egyptian citizenry is pretty pissed off in general, and extremely pissed off at President Mubarak in particular. What we’re seeing in the streets of Cairo, and all across Egypt is a pretty dramatic example of what happens when the chickens come home to roost.

As I’ve said before, I have a compulsive need to provide context and I’ve always believed that humor is a particularly effective window into a culture. Towards that end, I’ve pulled some choice jokes from an article entitled “The Politics of Laughter: Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak in Egyptian Political Jokes” written by Samer Shehata almost twenty years ago. (He's a good person to pay attention to)

**

A fox in the Western Desert escaped to Libya and the Libyans asked,' Why do you come here?' The fox said, “Because in Egypt they arrest camels.” The Libyans said, “But you are not a camel.” The fox then said, “Of course not, but try telling that to the police!”

(This is an almost universal joke from repressive police states. I first heard it from an Afghani friend of mine in reference to the ISI – Pakistan’s secret police. According to Shehata “Different versions of the joke have been documented in communist Eastern Europe, Nazi Germany, Czarist Russia, and in 12th and 13th century Iranian sources.”)

**

A little ancient Egyptian statue was unearthed, but no one could find out anything about it's background. They summoned expert historians and archeologists from abroad, and still they couldn't find out a single thing about it. The Egyptian secret police heard about the statue, and they said,“Give it to us for twenty-four hours.”
“Twenty-four hours! What can you do in twenty-four hours?”
“None of your business. Just give it to us.”
So the police took it, and before the day was over, they came back with it and said, “This is King So-and-so, son of So-and-so; he ruled at such and such a time and place", and so on and so forth. They told the researchers everything they had been wondering about.
“How did you find all that out? Did you locate his tomb?”
“No." said the police, "He confessed.”

**

Once someone saw a man with his nose bandaged and asked him, “Why is your nose bandaged?” The man said, “I had a tooth removed.” The first man said, “Why didn't you have it removed through your mouth?' whereupon the reply was, “Can anyone in this country open his mouth?'

**

Hosni Mubarak was in a very important meeting with all of his ministers when he got an urgent phone call from Suzanne (his wife). He got up and took the phone call and asked her what the emergency was. Suzanne said, “Oh Hosni, Hosni, our house has been robbed!”
Mubarak said, “Impossible, I’m in a meeting with all of the crooks in Egypt right now!”

**

There was an international conference on surgical operations and representatives of many of the countries of the world attended. The French surgeon told about a man who was in a serious accident and was hurt badly and had to have his heart and kidneys replaced. “Today” the French surgeon said, “he is a professional wrestler.” The English surgeon spoke about a man who was a marathon runner and was hurt badly and had both of his legs replaced and today was still a champion marathon runner. All the representatives, in turn, told about the best operations performed in their countries. Finally, the Egyptian surgeon got up and told of a man who had a brain that didn't work and had it replaced with the brain of a monkey and was now president of Egypt.

**

When Nasser became president he wanted a vice-president who was dumber than he was, so as not to cause him trouble or pose a threat to his power, so he chose Sadat. When Sadat became president he too wanted a vice-president dumber than he was and picked Mubarek. Mubarek has not yet found anyone in Egypt dumber than himself.

**

Suzanne (Mubarak's wife) asked Mubarak why it was that in the days of Sadat Egypt would get much more money from the Americans. Mubarak said, “Because Jihan (Sadat's wife) would go to America and Carter would kiss her here  and here (pointing to both cheeks) and give Egypt two billion dollars.” Mubarak said, “You should go to America to help Egypt (and be kissed by Bush).”
Suzanne said, 'Isn't it forbidden? (in Islam or social practice)”
“No it isn't, but when you come back to Egypt go to the Nile and wipe both cheeks (making a wiping motion on both sides of the face) with Nile water immediately.”
Suzanne went to America and Bush kissed her twice and gave Egypt a check for two billion dollars. When she came back to Egypt she went to the Nile and washed her cheeks, whereupon she saw Zaki Badr (minister of the interior) washing his anus. She asked, "Where did you come from?"
He said, "Saudi Arabia."

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