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Friday Prayers for Egypt: Starts and Fits

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God,

It can be difficult to begin again. Promising signs give way to more trouble. Egypt is looking to rebuild after several hard years of revolution.

Be with her.

The president has launched a new administrative capital city to house government by the end of the decade. But will it end as previous efforts, Cairo conquering all?

A new traffic law is drafted to better driving habits and reduce congestion. But is there will for proper enforcement, culture conquering all?

New Japanese-model schools are ready to open to instill better sense of discipline and education. But delays come with lack of transparency; corruption conquering all?

The military appears to be making gains against militants to quell terrorism and quiet the Sinai. But attacks continue as desperation rises; can a security commitment conquer all?

Tourism is rebounding from historic lows as beach and history are made more beautiful by depreciation. But the economy falters as inflation increases; can foreign currency conquer all?

God, give patience. God, give urgency.

Egypt is in a tricky place. There is enough stability to move forward. There is enough inertia to hold back.

So give wisdom. Give competence. Give vision. Give realism.

Give hope to the people. Give systems of merit and justice. Give space to live and thrive.

Give a new start, and fit all together. Trouble will come, and hard years continue. But rebuild.

Begin again, with your promise firm. Bless Egypt’s people. May they be yours.

Amen.

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Friday Prayers for Egypt: More Reform

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God,

Two more price categories are now set for increase: Water, by up to 50%, and bus tickets, the same. Subsidies are being slashed across the board, and inflation is rising.

The government has implemented procedures to help the poor, who are many. The economy is struggling, and has been imbalanced for a long time.

At least the reforms are doing something, God, but are they the right thing?

They are not the only reforms, though. The education minister revamped the elementary system and promises the same for high school.

Most agree education needs drastic improvement, God, but will it work? Will anything?

The people can only wait and see, and hope. Good news is that two new oil fields are producing at ‘unprecedented’ levels. New natural gas fields are near to extraction.

The requests are simple, God. Give wisdom to the ministers. Give support to the poor. Give patience to the rest.

But with patience, transparency and accountability. If the economy is put straight, put it straight for all. If it collapses… God, spare Egypt the tragedy. Spare the world.

Increase production, and slash corruption. Do what you wish with subsidies, but inflate the sense of national responsibility.

And reform, God. Reform well. The human heart and all beside.

Amen.

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Friday Prayers for Egypt: Fuel Subsidy

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God,

It was approved earlier, but implemented now. It was expected before, but now felt in pocket.

It was to come, and more is coming.

The fuel subsidy was slashed, with some products doubling in price.

It hits the middle class and their fleet of automobiles. It hits the lower class with microbuses and gas bottles. The rich can take it, but it hurts them too.

All for the sake of the state budget.

Surely it is necessary, some say. Deficits are a debilitating reality and the IMF urges reform.

Surely there are alternatives, others say. The people are already poor.

The government doubled the discounted allotment for essential goods on the ration cards, to help.

A functional, efficient economy would help even more.

God, whatever the wisdom in subsidy reduction, bring about the greater goal.

Help the poor to cope. Help the rich to share.

Help the nation right itself.

Give Egypt the advisors necessary to find the path forward. Give her the leadership necessary to do what must be done.

You have given new fields of natural gas. Speed the extraction. Refuel the nation.

Bring holistic recovery, God. From your grace, subsidize hope.

Amen.

 

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Friday Prayers for Egypt: Internal Organs

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God,

Inflation hit a high of 20 percent this month. Egyptians are suffering as the state seeks to stop years of internal bleeding.

But the response of some only does more damage – to themselves and the country. Egypt this week arrested a ring of doctors involved in the illegal trafficking of organs, attached even to prominent hospitals and medical schools.

Poverty has driven some to desperation. Greed has driven others to exploit them.

God, thank you for exposing this circle, and may it lead to finding others. Protect the integrity of the medical profession, upon which so much depends.

But protect also the integrity of the citizen, to live within a healthy means. Too many are adversely affected by the economy, no matter how necessary the reforms.

And in this, God, protect the integrity of the state. Give wisdom to balance the needs of the budget with the needs of the poor and middle class. May none grow rich on the sufferings of others.

In the end, God—and may it be soon—ensure these days strengthen the organs of Egypt. A society free from corruption. An economy free for enterprise.

And a people free to develop their nation. God, gird the loins of Egypt; bring her to peace and prosperity.

Amen.

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Friday Prayers for Egypt: November Float

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God,

Egypt finally took the plunge. After years of spending hard currency to support the pound, the Central Bank decided to float it against the dollar. Economists rejoiced, IMF authorities nodded, and an already inflationary local market braced for another blow.

Society, meanwhile, braces for planned protests on November 11. No one is certain if they will happen or not, but the mysterious originators – with some Brotherhood connections – call for an uprising over skyrocketing prices.

God, bless the government for taking a hard decision. Wisdom was asked by many on their behalf; may it be that it this the right one.

Now, with a plan in place, help the country see it through to completion. Food subsidies to the poor are being increased. Discounted essentials are being distributed.

It is a stop-gap, God. But it may be necessary. Help the poor to pass through these troubles. Help the middle class to simplify and save. Help the rich to be liberal in generosity.

And for the further reforms called for, refine bureaucracy and curb corruption. Bolster education and inspire entrepreneurship.

Confidence, God. In self, others, and you. Restore it to Egypt. Perhaps grant it fresh. Little can happen without trust in the system. Faithfulness, God. To you and to conscience.

For within such hope there must be place to protest. A healthy society needs dissenting voices. Judge those of this call, if they purpose destruction. Channel frustration into healthy expression.

But may legitimate grievances be heard. May neglected ideas receive due consideration. May dissonance gel into consensus.

The pound is weaker, God, but perhaps it is stable. Maybe the economy is similar? Strengthen all, for the sake of all.

A rising tide will float all boats. May November mark the end of ebb.

Amen.

 

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Friday Prayers for Egypt: Church and Loan

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God,

Long awaited items seem almost there. But almost to arrival is still a distance. Give wisdom in the final days of discussion.

Egypt’s Christians have long complained of difficulty in securing authorization to build churches. The new constitution mandated a law be passed by parliament in its first term to govern a better process. Behind the scenes negotiations between church and state near completion, and elected representatives appear ready to receive the draft law.

What they do with it is up to them.

God, for some this is a non-issue, for others it equates religious identity. Give courage and tact. Give conviction and empathy. Give consensus in line with your good will.

Perhaps your good will is more flexible in monetary policy, God, but help Egypt to find it in reference to the IMF. Staff level agreements have been finalized on a $12 billion loan and reform package. But political push and social acceptance may be lacking.

And some breathe a sigh of relief, finding neoliberalism and austerity programs to be the problem, not the solution. Others view it as a mark of international confidence and economic recovery, while a third are torn but resigned in the face of fiscal necessity.

Sort between them, God, for the sake of the nation. Set right the ship, that all may prosper. If the loan goes through, disperse it well. If not, revive the economy through better means.

And in all things, bless Egypt. Give peace and due process in religion; give sense and stewardship in economy.

No matter the distance, help all arrive together.

Amen.

 

 

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Misguided Ideas on the Egyptian Economy

Mideast Egypt Economy
(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser via skift.com)

Writing in the UAE-based National, Patrick Werr outlines six common motifs that Egypt tends to rely on for the promotion of its economy.

They are dead wrong, he explains, and actually harmful. Here is the list:

  1. A strong currency means a strong Egypt
  2. Egypt has vast desert areas. With only a bit of resolve they can be turned green
  3. Egypt needs to grow its own wheat so it can stop importing
  4. The government needs to build more housing to meet growing demand
  5. The country needs megaprojects to get the economy going
  6. Moving government offices out of the city centre will ease traffic congestion

Werr has worked as a financial writer in Egypt for the past 25 years, so his experience and cultural understanding is extensive. Click on the link above to read his justifications.

But here is one section to highlight. It shows he does not oppose all megaprojects, and proposes a much better investment I heartily agree with:

The good ones, in my opinion, are the Suez Canal corridor project and the rapid expansion of power plants. If only they would add a massive expansion of metro and light rail.

Egypt currently has two operational metro lines, with a third about one-third completed. A fourth line is designed to be fully operational by 2020, with lines five and six envisioned for the future.

As a dedicated urban walker and rider of public transportation, it will be wonderful to access more of the city for the current price of $0.13. Perhaps this must rise in the months or years to come, but to assist a congested Cairo and its lower income residents, I see no better or immediately practical solution.

As for the rest of Werr’s ideas, you be the judge. But to the degree possible, judge in dialogue with Egypt, that she might find her way to a stronger economy for all her citizens.

And as an earlier post speculated, it will also benefit the world.

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Friday Prayers for Egypt: Corruption and Economy

Flag Cross QuranGod,

Will Egypt be serious? Can it be? Is tackling corruption really part of the agenda?

Cries of corruption are a time-tested way to taint an opponent. Given its assumed pervasiveness they may even be true. But as the minister of agriculture falls, as does – ironically – an anti-corruption activist, help the government tackle this issue at its roots, and not just trim the low-hanging branches.

Give them both a fair hearing, God. Them, and all others.

A former Mubarak-era businessman and politician, accused of widespread corruption, is trying to return to parliament. Subject to multiple trials and jail over the past four years, the legal tussle has been intense. Decide his case rightly, God, and all like him.

Give mercy to the repentant. Give candidacy to the legal. Above all, give discernment to the electorate. Keep corruption far from the coming parliament.

For beyond politics, corruption spoils the economy. The government is feverishly working to stimulate investment, cautiously working to enact reform.

The rich and powerful can tolerate corruption; perhaps they even benefit. But its costs are felt most harshly where economic revival is most needed. For the poor and middle class, it is hard to play on an uneven field.

But real growth is dependent upon them. Studies show the Egyptian economy is woefully top heavy. Corruption trickles down far more efficiently than capital.

God, how to even begin? Give officials wisdom and uprightness. Give functionaries a living wage and a tender conscience. Give the system transparency.

Give Egypt the people and will to make it happen. May it both accompany and spur a cultural change. And beyond accusation, may it bring healing. There are degrees of guilt, God. Let justice be blind, but also be nuanced.

Cleanse the nation, God. May prosperity come, to all.

Amen.

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Current Events

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Economic Execution

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God,

So much of a nation’s economic strength depends on perception. Egypt is poised to receive a boost this weekend, as it hosts a massive investment conference attracting business leaders and heads-of-state the world over.

But let it be real, God, and let it be good.

To be real, let it address infrastructure and corruption. Let it develop entrepreneurship and employment. Let it move beyond photo-ops and sign on the dotted line.

To be good, let it address poverty and environment. Let it develop education and benefits. Let it move beyond tycoons and strengthen both lower and middle classes.

For there are those, God, who warn this conference aims to ‘sell off’ the nation. Some are wary of neoliberalism, others of consumerism.

But some move beyond concern to sabotage. The Muslim Brotherhood seeks to raise the risk of investment calling all contracts with the coup government to be void. Allied movements push further, bombing local branches of companies in attendance.

They too want to change the perception, showing Egypt unstable and a bad investment. God, you know the reality.

For economy demands more than perception, it requires execution. But in the political sphere, Egypt recently employed the other sense of this word.

During post-Morsi violence, a pro-Morsi mob threw youths from a rooftop during widespread clashes. A year and a half later, one of this mob was executed by the state.

Some cry foul, saying they got the wrong man, or he was guilty in the mob but not of the murder.

God, so many are guilty of so much. Bring justice, but have mercy. Establish order, but bring consensus. Every man dead is a tragedy, every assault on another is a sin.

After four years of revolution, God, there is so much clean-up. Give transparency to the justice system, and courage to the prosecutors. Hold accountable all who have done wrong, and hold close the victims of injustice.

Sort them clearly, God, in this life as well as the next.

In the next life your economy is perfect. But in this one stability, justice, and rule of law are necessary prerequisites. They have been in short supply in Egypt, but grant them soon, and now.

Let them be real, God. Let them be good. And in them help all Egypt to prosper.

Amen.