No rhyme, no reason

The amateur Egyptian poet who was sentenced to three years in jail and fined $18,000 for “insulting” President Mubarak in unpublished verses has had his sentence quashed by an appeal court.

That is good news. But why do these ludicrous cases keep cropping up in Egypt and other Arab countries? My own theory it’s a result of the autocratic systems and the lack of delegation. The more junior officials are disempowered and nervous of stepping out of line. The are too scared to say “This is silly, let’s call a halt”. And so it continues until eventually the most senior officials (who really shouldn’t be spending their time on such trivial matters) hear about it and give instructions.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 21 July 2009