Egyptian Mukhabarat Jokes
So while I’m on the topic of jokes…
Egyptians didn’t only tell jokes about Mubarak, of course. They also told jokes about the Mukhabarat who kept him in power.
The Mukhabarat is short for Al-Mukhabarat Al-‘Ammah (General Intelligence Service), responsible for national security intelligence both within Egypt and without. It’s the “within Egypt” that gives the Mukhabarat their terrifying reputation in Egypt.
The Egyptian intelligence service was created in 1954 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser. For many years the name of the Mukhabarat director was a secret only known to high officials, but that changed when Major-General Omar Suleiman became the chief of the Mukhabarat in 1993. Suleiman was prominently featured in the media up to, and including, his announcing the resignation of Hosni Mubarak on television.
And now he’s running for president as a law-and-order candidate at a time when most Egyptians would like to see some law and order.
Here’s some pre-revolution Mukhabarat jokes from my fieldnotes and elsewhere:
A fox in the Western Desert escaped to Libya and the Libyans asked,’ Why do you come here?’ The fox said, “Because in Egypt they arrest camels.” The Libyans said, “But you are not a camel.” The fox then said, “Of course not, but try telling that to the Mukhabarat!”
(This one was told by the discussant of my paper about news parody)
There was a contest between the mukhabarat of 3 countries, America, Russia, and Egypt, to see which was better. They had to go out in a field and find a rabbit. The American CIA went first, and they had no luck. The Russian KGB went out and they couldn’t find the rabbit, either. Then the Egyptian Mukhabarat went out and were gone for hours. The members of the other groups went to look for them. They found four mukhabarat guys beating a donkey, telling it “Qul inak arnab!” (“confess that you’re a rabbit!”)
An Egyptian mukhabarat officer was assigned to patrol the desert at night. Every night, a Coptic priest would roar by on his motorcycle on his way from the monestary to the city. And every night the noise would wake the officer up. The officer desperately wished to put an end to it, but the priest had his documentation and the officer could do nothing.
One night the officer stopped the priest and tried to reason with him.
“Aren’t you afraid of traveling alone in the dark in the desert?”
The priest said, “No, you see I have with me here the father, the son, and the holy spirit.”
The officer responded, ” Ha! Four people on a motorcycle, citation you bastard.”
A little ancient Egyptian statue was unearthed, but no one could find out anything about its background. They summoned expert historians and archeologists from abroad, and still they couldn’t find out a single thing about it. The Egyptian secret police heard about the statue, and they said,“Give it to us for twenty-four hours.”
“Why? What are you going to do with it?”
“None of your business. Just give it to us.”
So the police took it, and before the day was over, they came back with it and said, “This is King So-and-so, son of So-and-so; he ruled at such and such a time and place”, and so on and so forth. They told the researchers everything they had been wondering about.
“How did you find all that out? Did you locate his tomb?”
“No.” said the police, “He confessed.”
Once someone saw a man with his nose bandaged and asked him, “Why is your nose bandaged?” The man said, “I had a tooth removed.” The first man said, “Why didn’t the dentist remove it through your mouth?’ The first man replied, “Can anyone in this country open his mouth?’