This week, two police officers were killed and up to 13 injured while defusing two of four bombs near Egypt’s Presidential Palace. While President Sisi’s speech following the incident focused upon “justly seeking retribution from the killers,” the President, the government and the media all but ignored the deep-rooted negligence that left the families of two officers without their fathers.
The first anniversary of June 30 commenced with an explosion that left three gardeners and cleaning workers injured near one of Egypt’s most heavily guarded locations, the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis.
Upon arriving at the scene, police officers located a second home-made explosive. In any other country in the world, police would then likely deploy anti-explosive equipment, such as the anti-bomb robot and a bomb disposal suit. Instead, as photographs from the past year have shown, a bomb expert was sent to defuse the bomb as on-lookers stood by, closely watching the expert.
The outcome was deadly. As video footage showed, the explosive detonated, leaving the bomb expert mortally wounded and others surrounding the bomb, including a cameraman and multiple police officers, injured.
However, it did not end there. A second person was to lose his life on the anniversary of the day hundreds of thousands stood outside the Presidential Palace. A third explosive device was located near the scene of the first deadly detonation. Once again, with no anti-explosive gear, a bomb expert was sent to defuse it. Moments later, the expert was killed.
It was only after these two deadly explosions that the Ministry of Interior deployed the anti-bomb robot and a bomb disposal suit to defuse a fourth bomb located at the scene. It was only after two people were killed and 13 were injured that the Ministry of Interior remembered the value of human life.
Still, the government vowed to seek retribution from the killers, ignoring any and all negligence by the leadership of its police force. Local Egyptian media equally called on the Ministry of Interior to bring the perpetrators of this violent crime to justice. Meanwhile, the Prosecutor-General declared the opening of an investigation aimed at implementing such justice.
Yet, what justice will be achieved? There have been no calls for an investigation into the clear negligence of authorities who sent bomb experts to defuse multiple explosives without any anti-explosive equipment. There have been no calls for an investigation into the fact that four bombs were planted without detection near the Presidential Palace, despite a warning of the existence of such explosives three days before their detonation.
This highlights the increasing lack of professional media in Egypt. The role of the media, as the ‘fourth estate,’ is to provide checks and balances in the division of powers. The fourth estate is the guardian of public interest and a watchdog on government activities.
This role is non-existent in Egypt. Television talk show hosts have acted as a microphone for government rhetoric, ignoring the government’s own role in creating a safe atmosphere for both its citizens and its own police officers to work in. Even the pro-government Youm7, which released the chilling footage of a bomb expert defusing a bomb with no anti-explosives gear, purely echoed the statements of authorities, without once questioning why it is a man was sent to his death.
Thanks to the growing use of new media, local Egyptian media can no longer hide its often unethical behavior. New media has allowed anyone with access to the internet to play the role of the fourth estate. Today, it is the people that are the guardians of public interest and that are holding those in power accountable. Today, it is the young university student, the simple police officer, the passionate activist, the righteous academic and other every day Egyptians that will call for real justice to be implemented on both the perpetrators and those negligent powers.
The question is: how long will the people remain patient?