The Egyptian army claimed in a press conference last Saturday that it discovered a cure for AIDS and Hepatitis C viruses promoting ridicule and criticism from around the world and in Egypt.
Major General Ibrahim Abdel Atti, who heads the Cancer Treatment and Screening Center stated in a televised press conference attended by the country’s interim president and its de-facto military leader General Abdel Fatah El Sisi, that ” “I defeated AIDS with the grace of my God at the rate of 100% . And I defeated hepatitis C,”
Official Al Ahram newspaper reported that “Army spokesperson Colonel Ahmed Ali said: “The armed forces have achieved a scientific breakthrough by inventing devices to diagnose and treat Hepatitis C and HIV without taking a blood sample from the patient, which gets immediate results at a low cost.”
Essam Heggy, the scientific adviser to the President, who is currently visiting New York told Al Ahram “I want to be clear and explicit, what has been said and published about the invention of the armed forces hurts the image of scientists and science in Egypt,”
In the televised statement General Abdel Atti stated that “will take the AIDS from the patient and I will nourish the patient back with the AIDS treatment. I will give back it to him like a skewer of Shish Kabob to treat him,”
“I will take it away from him as a disease and give it back to him in the form of a cure,” he said. “This is the greatest form of scientific breakthrough.”
The Guardian newspaper reported that” Professor Massimo Pinzani, a liver specialist and director of the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London, said he attended a demonstration of the devices during a visit to Egypt but “was not given convincing explanations about the technology” and was not allowed to try it for himself.”
Unlike sub-Saharan African countries which lead the world in the number of AIDS infections, Egypt is ranked 93rd in the world with less than 12,000 people in 2010 figures according to UNAIDS program.
Hepatitis C which infects the liver, however is a common disease t among Egyptians, and according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 20 percent of Egyptian blood donors test positive for it.
It is not clear why the Egyptian military which took over power in Egypt after it staged a coup on July 2013 against the democratically elected government of former president Mohammad Morsi, chose to make such dubious claims. Since the coup, thousands of Egyptians were killed and imprisoned.
Moreover, the military, aided by the state-owned media have created a dehumanizing and extermination campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood organization that was in power before the military staged its coup in order to exterminate it from the Egyptian society. Late last year, the country’s pro-military judiciary declared the Muslim Brotherhood “a terrorist organization and outlawed it.”
Such claims of curing infectious epidemics, no matter how dubious and bizarre they might look to the outside world, might in fact find some traction among the Egyptian poor and the uneducated. Egypt is one of the poorest countries in the world with 22 percent of Egyptian society is classified as poor and has over 40 percent illiteracy rate according to a scientific study published by Al Ahram newspaper in 2011.
Such claims are also intended to shore up support for the Egyptian military and solidify its image among Egyptians as the only institution that can safeguard Egypt and protect its citizens. Such bizarre claims of scientific discovery can be understood, in addition, in the context of the Egyptian military attempts to even have more control over the lives of ordinary Egyptians promising them imaginary victories, good life, immediate riches and cure from diseases .
Ali Younes is the Editor of The Arab Daily News online newspaper. He is a veteran news-editor, Journalist, and a Middle East analyst working for major American news networks. He isbased in Washington D.C. Reach Ali at aliyounes@TheArabDailyNews.com