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A Jolly Dictator8 February 2011 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
It has been a bad week for the Society of Dictators. In particular the Middle Eastern section has been under fire. I am glued to the box. I want to get every detail. So I wondered: Is Dr. Zahi Hawass a minor Mubarak?
I regularly watch him on the National Geographic Channel. His appearances are introduced by lines such as: ‘In spite of a broken leg, Dr. Zahi Hawass descends into the burial chamber’ For quite a few years Dr. Zahi Hawass was the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. Since looters broke into the Egyptian Museum, he has been appointed Minister of Antiquities.
Dr. Zahi Hawass broadcasts are lovely. Each excavation turns into an Indiana Jones movie when Dr. Zahi Hawass is around. He supervised taking CT scans from Tutankhamen, indentified the mummy of the first female pharaoh Hatshepsut and was involved in excavations near the Sphinx. Quite recently he demanded back the bust of Nefertiti from the Egyptian Museum in Berlin.
Since the damages he is in round-the-clock contact with the control room of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Dr. Zahi Hawass pronunciation of ‘control room’ is sublime. He assured us that everything is under control. At the same time you feel relieved that part of the Egyptian art treasuries are scattered around the globe.
A while ago I read that Dr. Hawass amounts to a small dictator; scientists who had criticised him were all of a sudden banned from further excavations. Yet I considered him to be quite a jolly dictator.
Until I read that in 2010 he had brought about the ban of the official reopening of the historic Maimonides Synagogue in Cairo. He delightedly called it ‘a smack in the face of our Zionist enemy’, besides he personally would make sure that Jews weren’t allowed to pray in the synagogue. The more I learn about Dr. Zahi Hawass, the less jolly he becomes.
Each dictator, big or small, is a bit of a megalomaniac. They do such strange things, like sending tanks to the main square in their country. I think that sending tanks to calm a group of demonstrators is overkill. But dictators like to think on a grand scale.
During a hunt, the Great Slayer of Bears from the Carpathian Mountains, Ceausescu – he referred to himself as ‘the Genius’ – managed not only to shoot just a single brown bear but no less than sixteen in one go. In desperation, hunting masters were known to drag bears out of a circus. Tie a dead horse to a tree and bears trample within his shooting range.
Mao had a preference for young virgins. They were supposed to consider it an honour to share his bed, this in spite of the fact that he didn’t wash himself. According to a well known quotation from the Chinese Leader: ‘Tigers, too, don’t brush their teeth.’
Dictators often have strange hobbies. I haven’t found Hosni Mubarak’s favourite pastime. Maybe the ‘Last Pharaoh’ simply enjoyed being a dictator.
Give people a bit of power and this quickly shows up their dictatorial tendencies. Some men start with their family.
I would be a jolly dictator. For example, I wouldn’t appoint someone to a senior position if they didn’t read books. Moreover ballerinas would get paid similarly to star football players.
I would decree community service for anyone taking a phone call during a meeting. We want to keep our country merry. Another bold decision: abolish PE at schools. Go to a sports club if you are serious. Crying children at the foot of a climbing frame are a thing of the past. Likewise I would order a general ban against clowns. Yet I would install a stand-up comic at the Foreign Office; a special envoy for other dictators.
I am really getting into it. Yet, even a jolly dictator spells disaster, because he forces down his opinions; except when the entire population goes crazy. For example aiming to demolish another nation by democratic means. However I have been assured this is not the case in Egypt. What about Dr. Zahi Hawass? Naturally he keeps his position.
© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press
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