Magy Mahrous, a Political Science AUC graduate, ran for Parliament in the historical 2011 elections. She holds Masters in Management of Development Programs from the Arab Academy in Alexandria and Masters in Alternative Development, from the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Holland. She worked on developmental and educational programs in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Dubai, Yemen, and Darfur. We met with Magy to know more about her background, qualifications, motive behind running for Parliament, and the activities that make her a truly significant contributor to world development.
Having had 9 years of experience in directly executing educational and health programs in Upper Egypt, Magy believes she was qualified enough to run for Parliament. “I’ve done executive work and that puts me in the position to be able to completely think outside the box, know that everything is doable, and be able to monitor justly. I’ve done it myself before; with far less resources, and with far less support from the Ministry of Health or Education,” she adds. Monitoring the executive branch and the budget is another role for any MP. Magy believes that poverty stems from the lack of health, lack of education, and lack of housing, she added, “When these are your ultimate dreams when they’re actually your basic rights, there’s something seriously wrong.” To Magy, Egypt is not a poor country. People are simply inefficient in everything they do. “Restructuring major parts of the executive branch is critical. We have so much waste so it’s important to have someone who knows how much things cost.”
Magy has done and continues to do work in different developing countries all over the world. During the war on Iraq she went to help build schools there. “We were supposed to build 70 schools. We built them 140 times because they used to bomb the schools we were building,” she said. Magy studied human rights intensively. She is well aware of them and she is non-compromising when it comes to defending them.
Magy had decided to run for Parliament because she believed that it was time for the real troopers, taking all the shock, the fights and the uncertainty. She is quite disappointed with what has become of the Parliament, though and said, “I’m so glad I didn’t win!” To her, the process itself was unnecessarily difficult, “I am truly convinced that the army Googled ‘What is the most complicated and sophisticated election system there is?’ and they decided to translate it from Google Translate itself and implement it here. They’re inexperienced; they’re not doing a good job and there is zero transparency. They also keep denying responsibility. For example, for the Maspero events, I’m ready to accept that they were not responsible for it. Fine, they didn’t kill, but then again they didn’t protect,” she explains.
Today’s parliament doesn’t represent Magy, not as a woman nor as a Copt, she believes. She is not currently politically involved because she believes that there isn’t anything structured to attach herself to right now. She was working on Baradei’s campaign but that came to a halt because now he isn’t running any more. She thinks that the issues that need to be tackled in Egypt right now are education and the environment. “Looking at education from a philosophical point of view, for example, why do we learn? Is it to work? Well the first counter-argument would be looking at the boy who dropped out of school in Primary 3; he now works and is doing well. So we learn to become more involved in society and more capable of participating,” we learn.
Magy thinks striving for and maintaining a good and healthy environment is a matter of food security, health issues, and the well being of your entire community and the countries surrounding you. “If you pollute here, Japan sneezes; and this is what happened the other way around. Japan sneezed and we all got screwed. We’re transcending beyond the national borders,” she said. She believes that we need to act towards this as soon as possible and we also need to keep in mind sustainable development, which is maintaining the same levels of prosperity and even increasing them without harming future generations, especially when it comes to degradable resources. “This is very funny, someone said a couple of years ago that the solution to Cairo traffic is to drain the Nile and build a road over it! We need to step up and start getting a grip on things,” she points out.
Another entity that requires immediate change, in Magy’s opinion, is the media. “If we’re talking about transparency, they have to be independent. We can see the amount of damage that’s happening because the media isn’t independent. It’s like national TV. What we’re witnessing is insane. I’m not a media person, obviously, but anyone with half a brain will come to the same conclusion: media has to be independent,” she comments.
With the recent death of the Pope, Magy isn’t sure how she feels. She believes that either way God has a plan and that this is a definite sign from him. “The timing is insane. It tells me one thing: everyone messes up except God. The Pope dying now is either the best thing that ever happened to the Copts or the worst thing ever. You never know how the sick minds will use this,” she said, adding that there are a lot who now believe that the one who used to protect them has passed on, and now fear that they have no protection.
Magy blames the current situation in Egypt, the general dissatisfaction with what’s happening, on herself and all liberals for not being organized enough or having a united front. “We need to go back to the basics. We jumped into the details way too soon. We need to go back to the trunk of the tree and understand what we stand for, how to organize and mobilize and what it is that we’re trying to achieve. This is very critical at this time,” she insists.
Before we ended our rich conversation with Magy, we asked her if she knows what women want. “I guess we all want to live with dignity, both men and women actually. I think we all want safety and security. Of course we want stability as well. What I want now is for us to step up our game. I think women want to be heard more, want to participate and want to prove themselves, if just given the chance.”