Leaked audio excerpt from recent regional meeting held in Cairo:
Libyan delegate: What’s wrong with these people? We let them live in stability and peace, give them enough to eat, shield them from negative media and Western corruption and then they turn around and engulf themselves in flames! Such insult to the Beloved Leader.
Egyptian delegate: The point remains that we have to find a way to stop people from setting themselves alight.
Algerian delegate: That’s true, we’ve tried to ban match sticks and lighters but people got even angrier and started protesting about not being able to smoke or light their ovens.
Egyptian delegate: No, no. We need to come up with something a lot more creative.
Syrian delegate: Well our staff in Damascus have come up with an idea of supplying everyone with free but flame-retardant underwear. People were a bit suspicious but hey, it was free, so no one refused our gifts especially as they had the Beloved Leader’s portrait on them.
Egyptian delegate: Hmm
Jordanian delegate: Well how about we arm our police and security forces with water-pistols?
Algerian delegate: Are you serious?
Jordanian delegate: As well as that, fit our tanks with hoses and thus we are in good preparation for any more unexpected self-immolation.
Egyptian delegate: Great idea! What’s more, the fact that our security services are armed with harmless toys will portray a new approach to the rabble, one of a reformed democratic-leaning government that is listening to our people’s concerns.
Libyan delegate: Democratic?
Egyptian delegate: Democratic-leaning my dear friend. The tower of Pisa has been leaning for centuries.
Algerian delegate: OK, ok that may help things but how about some theocratic support?
Saudi delegate: Well we’ve made some progress there. Our religious authorities assure us that a fatwa against self-immolation is close to being announced.
Algerian delegate: Why the delay?
Saudi delegate: Well it’s a delicate theocratic issue…you see, we kind of sanction suicide bombing against foreign occupations and injustice but people might confuse this with perceived wrongs by the state.
The state may act unjustly, well unjustly is a strong word…i mean it may act in the best interests of the people…thus suicide as a weapon is disallowed in this instance. Obviously it is a weapon because it can destabilise the state and thus may cause the dreaded fitna that no one would want.
Syrian delegate: The problem is that those damn Tunisians haven’t really taken the bait and resorted to violence and anarchy. How can we warn against fitna if the removal of their Beloved Leader does not cause huge chaos?
Furthermore, we managed to avoid difficulties with the Iraqi ‘experiment’ thanks to Saddam’s bloody-mindedness at staying put as well as our gifts to the Iraqi people from across our borders. Democracy equals instability and death – game, set and match!
All we have in Tunisia is a crappy militia causing mischief and some crusty RCD ministers hanging on – not exactly a nightmare.
Egyptian delegate: You forget my friend, that Ben Ali was a wimp and didn’t manage to crush a few protests on the streets. Hafiz and Saddam knew how to do things – they slaughtered thousands of traitors without even batting an eyelid. Furthermore you have to be systematic about things and never be complacent.
Libyan delegate: Watch out, the Iraqi delegate is coming towards us, the smug bastard thinks the Tunisian debacle was a good thing! Best carry on our little discussion later.