The most eloquent political analyst I’ve heard in ages is an Egyptian called Ali Ahmed. Interviewed on telly this week for El Wady News, he spoke out against the Military Council, President Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and the corruptions inherent in the new draft of the constitution. Many Twitter followers watched him online and declared themselves amazed by his passionate common sense.
Who is Mr Ahmed? He’s not a politician, a lobbyist, a strategist, a public intellectual or a journalist. He is, in fact, a 12-year-old Egyptian prep-school boy with a political grasp beyond his years.
I’d love to have watched the (unseen) lady reporter’s face when he started talking. She went up to him (at a street demo) probably assuming he was just a cute innocent with an amusingly serious expression. What was he doing at a demonstration? “I’m here to prevent Egypt becoming a commodity owned by one person,” he said in a squeaky treble. “And to protest [against] the confiscation of the constitution by one single party. We didn’t get rid of a military regime to replace it with a fascist theocracy.”
Oh my, says the interviewer, I don’t even know what that means (you sweet precocious little boy!) “It’s when you manipulate religion,” Ali coolly replies. “And enforce extremist regulations in the name of religion, even though religion doesn’t command that.”
Striving to process the fact that a child in a blue stripy T-shirt was defining abstruse terminology for her benefit, the woman then asks, in her naïve way: “So you see the country is not doing well and has to change?” There’s a pause. “You mean politically or socially?” says Ali. Whereupon he launches into a lecture on the failure of the Morsi economy, the lack of social justice and the sexual inequality enshrined in the constitution. “It’s abuse and insanity,” says Ali.
He was forensically clear-thinking. He was amazing. I doubt there’s a handful of British 12-year-olds equipped to properly understand the overlap of state politics and religion – and fewer who could extemporise arguments about political doublethink on-camera in the street.
At a time when the Western powers are looking in dismay at the diplomats, technocrats and “liberals” being drafted into Egyptian politics, you feel like saying: “Let Ali Ahmed run the country! Or the people who taught him to think like that!” But Ali, unfortunately, doesn’t have a party. He wasn’t parroting a script he’d learned from someone else. “I listen to people a lot and use my brain,” he said. “I read newpapers, watch TV and search the internet.”
And it’s possible he’s young enough not to worry about getting a bullet in the head from Islamists who are unimpressed by his charming precocity.
William Blake’s house is up for sale! The house is in Felpham, West Sussex, where he lived for three years (1800-1803) and wrote his impregnable epic poem Milton, featuring the lines that became “Jerusalem”. The great visionary liked the village. He wrote: “Away to sweet Felpham for heaven is there:/ The Ladder of Angels descends through the air./ On the turret its spiral does softly descend/ Through the village it winds, at my cot it does end.”
I like the way his visionary claims about his home echo the claims of estate agents. But how are the latter planning to sell the property? “Attractive 2-floor brick/stone cttge for sale. 4 bdrms, garage, gdn, summer house. Small apple tree oft full of angels singing “Holy Holy Holy!” Large ladder of ditto descending thro’ air. 3 acres surrounding land, mostly green and pleasant. Poss walked on by J Christ in ancient times. Offers in region of £750,000.”