Thursday, January 26, 2012

Part 3/3: Reflections On An Outstanding Revolution… the people and the happening through the eyes of an Egyptian blogger

The current mood…

To put it in one word, I’d say “gloomy”. And here’s why…

Politically…

A big chunk of the revolutionaries have found what they want; which is “political legitimacy”. And by those I mean the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi (Islamic) movements. They now have a different priority which is to play it safe and make sure they get into the parliament (MB won just less than 50% of parliamentary seat and Al Nour Salafi party won around 24% of the seats).

Whenever there are skirmishes on the streets between revolutionary protestors and police or army units (for various reasons over the past few months), these two groups (MBs, and Salaifis) stay out of it (unlike during the 2011 revolution).

The rest of the revolutionaries  not that they are an insignificant amount of people, they are in the hundreds of thousands across Egypt) still believe:

- The revolution is not over yet

- The Army has to go back to their barrack

- Families of the injured and deceased citizens during the revolution must be compensated

- The army are trying to control things in Egypt from behind the scenes

- The army is trying to gain time during which they will try to strike deals to laydown the red lines that are not to be crossed by parliment or president
I have to say that there is also great resentment towards the MBs and Salafis (I have to note that the young generation within the MBs have been acting on their own to an extent. For instance, attending rallies against the will of the elder MB generation).

On the other hand, people whom don’t fall into the above categories are (sadly to say) sick of all this (the negative vast majority of Egyptians). They just want life to continue.

Safety/Security…

The streets are still not safe. Many stories about kidnaps (for ransoms), burglary, and killings are on the rise (compared to before the revolution). I personally experienced this remotely as stated in my post "The Egyptian Police Service: A Mockery… Our House as an Example".
Some people do think this is a direction by the police authorities to control people via fear. It is a known fact that in Egypt the Ministery of Interior had many thugs on its payroll or pulled favors for them (i.e. the famous 2005 elections thugs scandal).

Economically…

Things are not good when it comes to economy either. Egypt has used billions of its foreign currency reserves. These days there is shortage in gas and petrol. That’s besides the fact that foreigners have pulled out their investments, and the US (along with Gulf countries) are not sending all financial Aid as a way to pressure the Army towards democracy or any other agenda (like UAE is waiting to see what will happen in Hosni Mubarak’s trial). Not to forget, tourism is almost non- existent!

What next?

Since I had put some predictions on my first post during the revolution, I’ll do the same now just for the fun of it (not that our future is to be taken lightly)…

- Mubarak will be announced innocent from accusations of killing demonstratiors (the fault will be on the officers whom actually killed demonstrators, and most probably the interior minister Al Adly). Mubarak might be (I hope) sent to prison for a few years on some political grounds (corruption, negligence…etc).

- Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) whom now obviously have a bit less that 50% of the parliament will play politics tactfully (at least for the first year). They will steer away from controversial topics like banning Bikinis, and liquor (those being the topics media keeps accusing them of being the first thing on their agenda). They will also be “VERY” tactful with Copts (Egyptian Christians).
I am almost sure they will not even think of touching the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty (to do other wise would be madness).
Thinking of it, these people (MB) have been playing politics for 80 years…they are not stupid to fall into mistakes such as the ones above…I HOPE!

- The Muslim Brotherhood will continue to take more official (pro-army) point of views on issues and less revolutionary ones (except for things like chasing Mubarak and his old regime icons)

- Al Nour Party (considered right wing Islamic party) will play politics depending on topic being discussed. They will side with liberals on topics and make deals with Muslim Brotherhood on others. This party is the party I worry about. They seem like hardliners and I am not comfortable about them.

- We will have Presidential elections, and my guess (with "Al Baradee" out of the picture now) is that either “Amr Mussa” (x-Egyptian foreign minister and chairman of the Arab League from 2001 till 2011) or a military man (I don’t think “Sahfik”!) will win it.

- The army will go back to their barracks by this summer max

- A deal between the Army and the Muslim Brotherhood (with the knowledge of the Americans since Egypt is such a high stake country for them and the region). The deal will be:

  • No one (president or parliament) approaches or crosses the line and tries to investigate the Army finances or institutes (note: the army will not accept civilians having full supervision on them)
  • No one touches the Peace treaty with Israel
  • MB are to mobilize the people behind the presidential candidate whom supports the above 2 points
  • The Egyptian economy and security conditions will start to stabilize a few months after the presidential elections ONLY IF the winning president and parliament behave within the above plan. I including a lot of Egyptians believe that the insecurity (robbery, kidnapping, shootings…etc) happening in Egypt are intentionally done to scare people. Scared people are easily controlled!
- After Presidential elections, the return of the Army to their barracks, and the return of security we will witness a hike in tourism and the start of foreign investments flow back into the country.

- Demonstrations about everything and anything will continue for a very long time (affecting how fast our economy will recover).

One thing is for sure though, revolutionaries will not give up...
By The Telegraph UK
My Last words after 1 year on the Revolution…

After a year on our Revolution, I have to say I have mixed feelings of pride, frustration, fear, and hope.

The only constant feeling I had (and still have) throughout this past year would be best portrayed by the notable emotional scene from the movie “i7na beto3 el otobees”, when an Egyptian activist whom was being tortured till he died in an Egyptian prison (during the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser) emotionally chanted:
“Masr 7atefdal 3’alya 3alaya…. Masr 7atefdal 3’alya 3alaya” (“No matter what happens, Egypt will always be dear to me”).

Fe3lan, I say it with all my heart: “Masr 7atefdal 3’alya 3alaya…. Masr 7atefdal 3’alya 3alaya…. Masr 7atefdal 3’alya 3alaya”

Mood: Proud, Emotional, and hoping for the best…

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Part 2/3: Reflections On An Outstanding Revolution… the people and the happening through the eyes of an Egyptian blogger

The Revolution that changed a People…

The most clear of examples - whom proved that my analysis about strong Patriotism being part of our psyche as Egyptians was correct - was a friend of mine “B”.

"B" (like the other's i mentioned in the previous post) wasn’t very please with life in Egypt (although never took the steps to leave).
During the height of the revolution’s 18 days with all the anti-revolution propaganda lunged at us by the state’s publications and TV channels (besides some very annoying people on facebook being so pro-Mubarak back then!!), “B” at some point said as he was viscously defending the revolution: “I never knew how much I loved my country… ba7ebek ya Masr”.
This guy not only defended the revolution from emotionally, he actually joined the revolutionaries in the streets!

The stunning inflammatory patriotism displayed by many Egyptians whom (per their saying) didn’t care or felt disconnected from Egypt before the Revolution was AMAZING to say the least.

This also brings to my mind the eruption of creative artistic illustrations and Graffiti that took over Egyptian youth (and displayed on many streets) ...
By Eng_Sam

The Guardian

Anonymous

By PressTV
 
MissRossen

If this porves something, it proves that Egyptians are quite complicated. They should never to be judged by the “norms”or “generalizations” or “pre-conceived ideas/stereo-types”.

I remember Al-Makrizi (an Egyptian historian whom lived in Egypt about 700 years ago) wrote in one of his books that Egyptians are negative people (especially, when it comes to dealing with their rulers). This point of view was widely believed (even I believed it). Especially, with our 7000 year history of being ruled by Pharoahs, and authoritarian regimes or kingdoms.

I guess this revolution utterly blew off many “generalizations” about Egyptians.

People showing their “REAL” colors…

On the other side of the coin, as much as there was a nice change in personalities (because of the revolution), there also were people whom I was totally shocked by their attitudes or opinions during and after the revolution.

Here are a few…

  • A colleague from the days of school “S” went totally BERSERK; calling pro-revolution demonstrators: “idiots, don’t understand anything, will destroy Egypt, maniacs, shallow, only see the small picture, part of a conspiracy….etc”.

  • Another colleague since the days of school “L” whom after a brief discussion about why I am so vocal on FB supporting the revolution and even joining symbolic demonstrations in the country i was in back then, gave me the silent treatment during and after the revolution. I think I was too much noise for her.

  • Another school colleague whom bluntly stated that he was pro-Mubarak and cursed the revolution. This one I totally ignored as he was acting as if Hosni Mubarak was his cousin :S

  • A distant relative “K” not only cursed the revolution and all its supporters abroad, he (seemingly) started putting FB comments undermining anything I stated on my FB wall (I noticed that as soon as I stated something, he would criticize that opinion on his wall without singling me out). Calling us (or maybe even me specifically) “shwayet 3eyal” (a bunch of kids) and “a3deen bara wee mish fahmeen 7aga” (living outside Egypt and don’t know what they are talking about”… and a few other niceties from him.

For this one and his likes (about 2 or 3 more), I actually posted this FB note/Blog "How Dare You?!!" as a responce to him and others. I think he got the message!

The status-quo (or maybe even Pro-Mubarak) supporters I despised the most…

The ones whom really got on my nerve were the selfish ones like “K” (the distant relative) above. The reason for that was their selfishness about all that is happening.

Their anger at the revolution (and hatred) was mainly driven (conclusion from their comments and literal wordings in some instances) by their feeling that the revolution disturbed their “normal” life.

This category of people lived in upscale houses in upscale areas of Cairo. Their life revolved around watching football matches, showing off their upscale life, travelling to Europe and spending their summer at the North Coast (where most of middle and high class Egyptians go to to spend summer at the beach).

In other words, these are people whom were happy with their bubble (that had nothing to do with politics, poverty...etc). The last thing they would think of is democracy, (which they truly think Egyptians do not deserve it as they are not ready for it…HE ACTUALLY SAID THAT!!), dignity, and a humane life for Egyptians as a People.

I guess their slogan would be: “I don’t care what happens to whom, just don’t disturb my bubble”.

Being negative is one thing, but being selfish and ignorant to the suffering of a whole nation is another thing I cannot take!

All I could say to such narrow minded “creatures” is: “3alaAmak yabnel #$#@!”.

By 3arabawy
Live and let live…

Having said what I did, I think that any Revolution has to find it in itself to be more noble than its predecessor regime.
I think we (as Egyptians) have to find it in ourselves (including myself) to accept the fact that there are many people whom don’t like this revolution and will continue to blame the revolution for the rest of their F…(...rrr… have to control myself here :S) life.

This revolution showed the world how cultured, organized, peaceful and innovative Egyptian people can be if they had the will for it.

I think we owe it to ourselves and to the martyrs of this revolution (May God bless them all) to raise ourselves above bickering, hatred and show other Egyptians with different points of view, that the EGYPT we revolted for can accommodate us all.

…to be continued…"What next?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Part 1/3: Reflections On An Outstanding Revolution… the people and the happening through the eyes of an Egyptian blogger

By Tim Simons 

1 year after…

A year has passed on what is arguably one of the most admirable and astonishing revolutions in modern history… “The Egyptian 2011 Revolution”.

On this anniversary, I am sure many blogs, channels, and news websites (or even newspapers) will document the events in full detail (and maybe even mention incidents we never heard of before).

Yet, for me on the Revolution's first anniversary,I wanted to write about the revolution form a personal perspective...

Where we stood before the revolution…

Myself and strangers…

The first thing I did was go back to my blog and checked my first revolution related post "A Day In History: 28Jan11 - The Day Egyptians Threw The Towel". I am glad to say that my expectations at the end of that first post were not so off… (asl makshof 3ani el 7egaab besalamti… NOT! lol).

Since childhood i had this deep love relationship with my country. Egypt to me was a country I loved and cherished dearly.

I remember watching with great passion movies like “A Rosasa Laa Tazal Fy Gaiby”, “Al Naser Salah El Din”, and other simplistic yet symbolic Egyptian movies about patriotism.

I used to imaging myself defending my country and even dying for it if I had to (as a symbol of one of the most noble things one can do for the sake of his country and people).

Over the years (especially, as I started to notice these things as a young man), I met, heard or even read about quite a few Egyptians whom hated Egypt and just wanted to bail out at the nearest opportunity.

The thing is, these people were not of a certain class or level. On the contrary, they were from different takes of life.

I used to read with pity things like: “Egyptians dying on a sunken smuggling ship on the borders of Italy”…etc. I also used to hear poor people speak very negatively about Egypt (can’t blame them :S).

I remember reading polls or hearing Op-eds about how many Egyptians just want to immigrate (out of frustration, bad experiences…etc).

Even for friends… immigration was the answer!

Anyone can understand why poor people were so frustrated and would rather risk their lives to get smuggled into Europe on boats many of which sunk in the sea. Yet, my astonishment was with the middle to high class Egyptians whom just wanted to bail-out and leave Egypt.

Thinking of it, I even had some of my close friends whom either wanted to jump ship or bluntly said they hated "Egypt” or “something about Egypt“.

Here are a few examples…

  • A school friend of mine “A” (childhood friend), was from a middle class family. He is a relatively well educated bloke whom had an ok job. He always dreamt of immigration and leaving “el makhroba dy” (“This ruined/waste like place” as he used to call it in moments of frustration). He also occasionally used: “Mayeteen Om dy balad” (“curse this country”) as another comment he mentioned during our discussions. I remember his dream was to immigrate to New Zealand (I think he had an uncle there or something). I think he tried to apply but it didn’t go through.

  • A collage friend of mine “K” also wanted to immigrate. K was also from a well off family, whom had a nice car, good job and lived a good life (except if he was hiding stuff from me :P). One of his most hilarious comments was “3awzeen ne3’ayar el sha3b” (“we want to change the people not just the country”). K’s issue was a bit different... as he stated it in a conversation recently: “we always loved Egypt (the place, the history), but the issue has always been the people themselves (generalization about a significant part of society whom were: ignorant, rude, aggressive, envious…etc). His dream of immigration did succeed though.

  • A work colleague “MFa” (here in Canada), whom is from a well off family. He was Educated in UK and Canada. "MFa” just didn’t care about anything related to Egypt. To him Egypt was a place his father was born and that’s it. Meen yemoot, meen yewla3…not his concern.

There are many… many other examples of middle to high class Egyptians just leaving Egypt because they couldn’t take it there anymore (out of frustration, disgust or even hatred).

Why were well educated (middle to high) class Egyptians so disconnected?

I always used to wonder, “why do they hate it here so much?”, “why don’t I feel the same way too?”.

I found out that the love I had to my country stemmed out of a few things:
  •  A 7000 history which would make anyone whom read about it (as I used to) feel very proud.
  • A beautiful, loving, and close family
  • A good quality of life (within what is available in Egypt during the 80s and 90s) thanks to my Allah and then my parents whom provided that. This includes houses, cars, trips,…etc
  • Living in a place where I and the people around me felt that we are all part of the same entity (being in this case a country)
  • Sightseeing all around Egypt which strengthens ones connection to a place (thanks to my father Allah yr7amo)
  • A father whom kept instilling in me a love and pride towards the country (places, history)
Add to all that a personality (ely howa ana) that is very nostalgic… the result is obvious I guess!

I concluded from this (before the revolution) that pride in ones history, knowing ones country (visits/reading), parents healthy involvement in building ones self-pride, and a quality of life were enough to create a strong bond between a person and his country (or religion if directed to that correctly).
Not to forget that Egypt over the past 30 years didn't have anything to rally around as a nation execpt maybe football matches. In other words, there is no common goal for the whole society to garther around. This too causes disconnection.

As much as this diconnection was spreading (espcially, in the last 10 years before the revolution), I always believed (and mentioned this to friends when the “love of thou country” topic came up):”I sincerely believe that the moment a disaster happens in Egypt most (if not all) the people whom were complaining or dsiplaying dicontent about Egypt will swing to the other side and prove to themselves and to others how much they love their country
… It took a revolution to prove my point!!

...to be continued:The Revolution that changed a People…

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Arabs, Israel and Black Africa

Recently, I read a very interesting article “Black Africa and the Arabs”. The Article was written in Foreign Affairs Magazine (one of the best, most interesting Magazines EVER!) by Ali A. Mazrui in 1975.

It mainly discusses the affects of Arabs (and Islam) on Africa, especially on east and west Africa.
Here are some interesting points mentioned in the Article…

On the influence of Arabs (through 12 centuries of contact, enslavement, trade,cooperation, and settling)…

“In the secular field the Arabs have up to this time played two major roles in black Africa: first as accomplices in African enslavement, and then in the twentieth century as allies in African liberation”


Wikilpedia: Slave Trade Routes

“Swahili, now adopted as a national language by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda (and spoken as well in Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi), has come to pose the most serious indigenous challenge to the role of English as a lingua franca in Africa... Perhaps over 20 percent of the basic vocabulary of the language comes from Arabic-including the name of the language itself and much of its political vocabulary (like words for "president" [raisi], "minister" [waziri], "law" [sharia], "department" [idara], and "politics" [siasa])”.”

“Whereas the spread of Islam through East and West Africa provides a cultural bond, it also, in some cases, serves to reinforce separatist tendencies”


“In Africa as a whole, however, it would be misleading to emphasize only those cases where Muslims and Christians have made uncomfortable bedfellows. We should not forget that while the United States was trying to make up its mind in 1960 about whether to elect its first Catholic president, the Muslim voters of Senegal had already affirmed their support for their Catholic leader, Leopold Senghor. Islam in Africa has sometimes shown levels of magnanimity higher than those it has attained in its ancestral home in the Middle East.”

“...OAU in Afro-Arab relations were revealed. The organization is, on the one hand, becoming a mechanism by which the Arabs can politically influence black Africans. On the other hand, it is also evolving into a mechanism through which black Africans might seek economic concessions from the Arabs.”

On how European imperialists tried to build a moral case for their colonization of African nations…

“…the attitudes of most black Africans toward the Middle East at that time were either indifferent or hostile. The Arab slave trade featured prominently in the version of African history taught by English schoolmasters in East Africa, for the British liked to justify their colonial presence in East and Central Africa by arguing that the original motivation was to suppress the Arab slave trade. With one stroke colonial policymakers could discredit both the Arabs and Islam, while at the same time giving their own imperial presence a high moral justification.”

On the change in perception of Africans towards Arabs...

“The Arabs, however, under Nasser's leadership, did perceive the interrelationship between the Middle East and Africa and began to play a role as allies in Africa's liberation”

Gamal Abdel Nasser (x-Egyptian President)

“One of black Africa's foremost ideologists, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, showed some awareness of these bonds even in his more conservative days during the first two years of Ghanaian independence. As Nkrumah became more radical he was less inclined to recognize the Sahara as a legitimate political divide. Symbolically, Nkrumah even married an Egyptian woman to emphasize the solidarity of the African continent”

“The other stimulus to black radical identification with the Arabs was the place of the Arabs in the vanguard of anti-imperialism in the Third World”

On Israel’s cooperation and ties with African Nations:

"Israel entered into special agreements of cooperation with a number of African states: in 1960 with Mali, Upper Volta, and Madagascar (now the Malagasy Republic); in 1961 with Dahomey; in 1962 with the Ivory Coast, Uganda, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Cameroon, Gambia, and Burundi; in 1963 with Nigeria and Tanzania; in 1964 with Togo and Chad; and in 1965 with Kenya"

“The voting pattern of Israel in the United Nations has demonstrated how much a part of the Western world that nation is, and how influenced by its connections with Southern Africa its policies have been. When nationalist opinion in much of Africa was aroused against Moise Tshombe's bid to pull Katanga out of the Congo (and protect Western mineral interests in that province), Israel sided with Tshombe in many U.N. votes on the issue. The Arabs were not slow in pouncing on this Israeli ambivalence”

“…the Southern Sudanese Anyanya whom the Israelis were aiding in their fight against the government in Khartoum. In February 1972 a peace settlement for the Sudan was at last reached between contending Sudanese parties at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Reports from Southern Sudanese sources at that time indicated that the Israelis were almost the only ones of their major advisers who were opposed to the peace settlement.)”

“General Idi Amin started the new trend when he broke off Uganda's relations with Israel on March 30, 1972”

“On November 28, 1972, Chad also broke off diplomatic relations with Israel, partly to reduce Arab involvement in Chad's own civil war

"... on December 31, 1972, the People's Republic of the Congo followed suit.”

“Niger broke off relations in January 1973, followed closely by Mali. In May, Burundi joined their ranks and then Togo in September...”

“President Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire) surprised the world by doing likewise. He explained that he had been forced to choose between a friend, Israel, and a brother, Egypt, and also criticized Israeli territorial expansionism.”

“...states like Kenya, the Ivory Coast, and Ethiopia (under Haile Selassie), which broke with Israel toward the end (soon after the war), did so partly because they did not want to be isolated from continental African diplomatic trends or break ranks with other members of the OAU.”

“Some commentators who should know better (including African journalists) have suggested that Africa broke off relations with Israel for the sake of cheaper oil from the Arabs. Such an analysis distorts the sequence of events. By the time the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) dramatically raised the price of oil, much of Africa had already sided with the Arabs...”

Mood: just another day...