Egypt's national hospitals now offer a mandatory musical interlude each morning at 8: the national anthem, “My Homeland,” plays on intercoms. After that comes the Hippocratic oath.
The obligatory patriotic/medical ethics gesture was ordered this month by Egypt's new health minister, Hala Zayed, who insists that her decision will help promote “patriotism and loyalty” and remind doctors of their “professional ethical code and humanitarian role.”
It's “part of a project aiming to improve the work environment in the health sector,” health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed told Middle East Eye.
The social media reaction suggested otherwise. Many Egyptians took to networking sites to ridicule the move, calling it a “joke.” Some suggested the minister should instead focus on improving conditions in derelict state hospitals.
“The patriotism that is determined by a national anthem while humiliating citizens and failing to provide their basic needs is fake,” tweeted Egyptian economist Ashraf Dawaba.
“I would prefer that the ministry issue a decree to equip the doctors with more medical gloves, rather than playing the national anthem,” one pediatrician in a government hospital told Daily News Egypt.
Zayed's edict may simply be a case of patriotic overdose. Since taking power in 2014 after a military coup, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has struck a patriotic chord among Egyptians by his beloved and often-repeated mantra of “Long Live Egypt!”
The former military officer has also jailed rivals and cracked down on the media. The latest move: Egypt's parliament on July 16 passed a law regulating traditional and social media, the Wall Street Journal reported, to penalize those spreading what the government considers “fake news.”