A few days ago, the Egyptian Oriental Weavers company, one of the castles of the textile industry in the Middle East, announced that Yasmine and Farida Khamis, daughters of the company’s founder, the late businessman Mohamed Farid Khamis, had sold their entire shares in the company, amounting to 24.61% of the claims, in favour of the British company FYK Limited, for 1.4 billion pounds.
The sudden and mysterious deal raised many questions and inquiries, and then it was soon revealed that Yasmine and Farida Khamis own FYK Limited. Therefore they still hold the same share in “Oriental Weavers” but through a foreign entity. Experts and economists attributed this to the desire of the two businesswomen to evade paying taxes inside Egypt and smuggle money abroad, as Egyptian laws allow foreign investors to transfer their profits abroad in dollars, and even banks give them priority in providing hard currency.
Contrary to what is expected and what is logical, the act of Yasmine and Farida Khamis impressed many Egyptians. Social media was full of praise for them and their actions instead of denouncing this act aimed at tax evasion and smuggling the country’s money abroad in hard currency when Egypt was facing a severe economic crisis. Its main reason is the lack of foreign exchange.
This support and praise for what the two businesswomen did reflect deep anger raging in the hearts of Egyptians at the government and the ruling regime as a whole, to the extent that citizens see any act that disturbs the peace of this regime, even if it harms the country, as a heroic act that deserves praise and applause. This is mainly due to the citizens’ feeling that this government does not represent them and that its primary goal is to suck their money and drain their savings by imposing excessive taxes and fees to build new capitals of government and buy luxury presidential planes while at the same time plunging the country into a sea of complex economic crises.
One of the tenets of the modern state is that “there is no taxation without representation”. The regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, which has ruled the country with an iron fist for eight years, completely ignores this principle. The system continues to impose one tax after another, one fee after another, without allowing real representatives of society to express it. There are no free presidential elections (the last presidential election witnessed the imprisonment of the most prominent candidates competing with the president), no genuine parliamentary elections (candidates are chosen inside closed rooms in the General Intelligence and the National Security Agency), and local elections have been suspended for 13 years in violation of the constitution.
The government is creating ideas every day to deplete citizens’ money. The citizen must pay for every movement and whisper. A citizen who wants to visit the Holy Land in Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah must pay the government a 3,200 Egyptian pound ($125) fee to allow him to travel. A citizen who wishes to cross the road to reach his residence in eastern Cairo must pay the National Roads Company, owned by the army, a fee for crossing the street. The government forces all business and self-employed owners to register in the electronic tax system and imposes a subscription fee of up to 9,000 Egyptian pounds ($360) annually. Finally, the government plans to set marriage fees on the grounds of child support in the event of parents’ divorce.
Business people, too, were not spared. They find themselves, in various sectors, forced to partner with the army or the General Intelligence Service in their work. Otherwise, they will face a torrent of legal, administrative and bureaucratic obstacles. Worse, they will face the fate of the prominent businessman Safwan Thabet and his son Saif, who have been detained for two years in inhumane conditions because they refused to give up their share in the Juhayna Group to the regime, one of the largest dairy and juice companies in Egypt and the Middle East.
Anger possesses everyone in Egypt, and the authorities refuse to allow any room for it to be expressed democratically through real representatives of the people, so this anger is shown by supporting illegal actions such as tax evasion and money smuggling abroad, as is the case in the story of Yasmine and Farida Khamis.