It was comical, farcical, droll. An actor’s dream if you were going
to put the drama on stage or screen – but the three principal characters
were actors themselves. The lead player, as usual in Egypt, was His Excellency Field Marshal President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,
and the theme of this theatrical production was an old and familiar
one: the power of trade unions and the fear of real revolution.
But we’ll start with the latest act, virtually ignored in the
West where freedom of speech, workers’ rights and liberty are
“precious”, “sacrosanct”, “close to our hearts”. This week, two
prominent Egyptian actors, Amr Waked and Khaled Abol Naga, were expelled
from the government-controlled Egyptian actors’ union for “treachery”.
They were condemned for “betraying the nation” and working for “the
agenda of conspirators against Egypt’s security and stability”. The head
of the union told AFP that the two men “will no longer be allowed to
act in Egypt”.
Although Waked won the best actor award at the Dubai film festival five years ago and starred in Syriana with George Clooney, the starring performance of both men came last Monday when they used the platform of a US congressional hearing to condemn the worsening human rights situation in Egypt and the extraordinary legislation which may allow Sisi to stay in power until 2034.