With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Mouwafak Chourbagui speaks to the owner of a new business that promises human rights in exchange for services, essentially breaking the glass ceiling of basic freedoms...
Oddness and Cairo have never been strangers but every once in a while, something happens that baffles even the most cynical observer. Cashing on the entrepreneurial spirit currently gripping the nation a group of wealthy and connected businessmen are opening the Human Rights Shop (HRS™) in the heart of Cairo. Bemused by the concept and curious about the business model, I sat down with Mr. Sam Bousak, the impending executive manager of the Bolaq branch over a café latte (with Chantilly, naturally) at Coffee Bean.
I must admit I am not really sure what HRS™ is all about; could you kindly give us a brief description?
Sure. In layman terms, Human Rights Shop™ is basically an innovative concept whose aim is to offer its customers components of human rights in the form of three different packages available at different prices.
How can a business offer human rights? Isn’t that the government’s duty?
Theoretically, yes. Rights should be guaranteed in constitutions and protected by the judiciary system. However the reality is that we live in a world where HSBC can launder money for drug cartels and exploit developing nations without their executives risking prison time, but if Hamada is caught with a joint in Ramsis, he can end up with a five-year sentence. Our analysts have researched modern societies and have concluded that, in countries like Egypt, rights are only enjoyed by a minority of people: those with money. Money is power and power is rights. Wealth protects you. If you are a rich drug addict, you will go to rehab, if you are a poor addict, you will go to jail. The UN and their overpaid workers can keep saying that rights are a universal concept guaranteed for all but we know it’s a lie. In truth, it is a privilege, a commodity reserved for those with purchasing power. We at HRS™ intend to remedy that discrepancy by giving an opportunity to the less privileged to acquire certain protections that their governments have failed in providing.
So wouldn’t that mean that you are targeting the poor? How exactly does your business operate?
You should see us more as the middle-men. We get our funding from numerous powerful clients such as Swiss banks, the Saudi Royal Family and the Egyptian Army. And our job is to safeguard their interests and meet their demands. They have invested heavily in us because they believe that the poor can be of great service to their respective needs. You see business has always been about supply and demand and for too long the poor have been discounted from the economic equation because they have no money but our partners and I have realised that they can offer something far more valuable than money: themselves. So in exchange for certain services, we will offer them the money that should enable them to acquire human rights in the eyes of the world. We differ from traditional businesses in that respect. We do not sell services or products in exchange for money; we sell money in exchange for services. We view the customer as a product useful to our clients.
I mentioned earlier that we have three different packages to offer. They are the standard, the gold and the premium.
The standard (1 million L.E)
We will give the customer 1 million L.E and in exchange he has to donate all of his organs when he dies to Swiss banks so that they can be at the disposal of their Fortune 500 clients. This package also necessitates one daughter to be offered to the Saudi Royal Family.
The Gold (5 million L.E)
We will give the customer 5 million L.E and in exchange he has to donate all of his organs when he dies to Swiss banks, as well as his kidney within 6 months. Additionally, two daughters have to be offered to the Saudi Royal Family and one son should be available to travel to Morocco with French tourists.
The Premium (10 million L.E)
We will give the customer 10 million L.E and, in exchange, he has to donate all of his organs when he dies to Swiss banks, as well as his kidney, eyes and scrotum within 6 months. Additionally, two daughters have to be offered to the Saudi Royal Family and one son should be available to travel to Morocco with French tourists. The other two sons must be offered to the Egyptian army as guinea pigs for their upcoming scientific experiments: curing depression with shish tawouk and Parkinson’s with hummus. This package is custom made for those in rural areas.
Are you fucking serious? How can that be legal?
Anything between two consenting parties should be legal. I can understand your anger but look at it this way: at least in our business model we are offering the poor the choice of being exploited and we are giving them a good amount of money in exchange. Isn’t it better that capturing Eritreans in Sinai, killing them and selling their organs? Isn’t it more dignified than prostituting one’s daughter for almost no money? We care about the poor and have found a way to integrate them into our capitalistic society, a way for them to acquire rights and enjoy life. Yes, they have to sacrifice something in exchange but much less than what they are sacrificing now. You can continue living in the world of ideals, but we here at HRS™ live in reality, we know how the world’s structure is designed and how it only caters to a handful of people. Perhaps the right question to ask is “how can what the world has normalised be legal?” If the world sells you out, there should be an option to sell yourself to the world no?
I think I don’t have the stomach to continue this interview….
Well, if one day you literally don’t want to have a stomach, here is my card!