I haven't had this much fun since Grandma let all the cousins, nieces and nephews rummage through her big Brooklyn house in our fierce competition for the title "Scavenger of the Month."
Well, imagine the sheer glee, the unbridled joy that an unreconstructed scavenger feels when you let him/her loose in the archives of the Egyptian State Information Service website.
The Archives is where the government stores old material, though in this country today, old could be as young as a month.
Much of what we find there could bring on apoplexy. For example, round about 2004-2005 -- when Egypt was under a bit of pressure from the US and others to democratize its election procedures -- The State Information Service decided to publish a book on, wait for it, Human Rights in Egypt.
Here's a passage:
"Within the Egyptian pioneering role in approving, consolidating and maintaining human rights, we shall expound the international and regional agreements Egypt has joined, the human rights-related articles provided in the Egyptian Constitution, the authorities and institutions in charge of supporting and protecting these rights in Egypt, and the role played by the Supreme Constitutional Court in interpreting and adopting these rights."
Pioneering role? Maintaining human rights? At this point the scavenger doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.
But, maybe one needs to take a longer view of history, perhaps with just a modicum of forgiveness toward the blow-hard strongman who puts on his game face while trying to look and sound serious while spewing forth volumes of misinformation and disinformation to his faithful subjects.
Here are some choice passages from the SIS book, "Human Rights in Egypt":
Since the early dawn of life, freedom and right to option God Almighty bestowed upon Adam and Eve have been of the most important options that have determined the human person's relation with God and with others, and have determined as well the main features and methodology Adam and his descendants have followed to consolidate and safeguard human rights throughout ages.
The divine religions have been revealed to lay down a life system, and to regulate relations among individuals, with each other on the one hand, and with the ruler on the other, on the basis of justice, mercy, cordiality, cooperation and equality. They have been also revealed to renounce discrimination among human beings on the basis of interest, benefit, gender, sex or color, calling for dialogue with the other and respect for all human values.
The US Declaration of Human Rights (1766)* (sic) and The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) are the first charters that have enlisted these rights in national declarations, expressing special experiences of these peoples.
After going through a litany of the human rights-related agreements sponsored by the United Nations and signed by, among others, Egypt -- most of which Egypt has arrogantly broken -- this modest volume tells us how happy the country is to be a signatory to these treaties and to wholeheartedly embrace their principals and practices.
En passant, it mentions the National Council for Human Rights. This is the fig-leaf Mubarak invented to "investigate" human rights abuses by agent of the government. And Mubarak was fortunate to able to reach out to the always compliant Boutros Boutros-Galli (who was living in Paris) to be its chairman.
The book recounts "Egypt's keenness" on boosting the democratic course through introducing amendments into Article No. 76 of the Constitution and the ensuing multi-presidential candidate and parliamentary elections.
The book reviews "Egypt's efforts for enhancing the right to freedom of opinion and expression, safeguarding women's rights; including combating discrimination against her and empowering her to contribute to development as well as preserving child rights and the rights to clean environment and to education. Egypt has adhered to all these rights within the context of sustainable development and the Non-governmental organizations in Egypt."