What’s the deal with Egypt?

12 Feb. 2011

Cork, Ireland

Throughout these days of protest and confusion, I have heard many interesting comments, read news heartening and sad, and chuckled in both a-musement and be-musement over some of the confusion non-Egyptians were expressing.  These are heady times, my friends.  The giddiness seems to be affecting people in many different ways!

 

Giza

Giza, Egypt.  Camel owners heading into the city to sleep after a hard day of tourist-catering-to-ness.

 

Let's start with a facepalm moment, shall we?  When I heard the news that Mubarak had stepped down, I immediately emailed Dario at work.   He emailed back, "Yay for Egyptian people! :DDDDDD"

Two minutes after that, he emailed again.

Dario: "Mubarak stepped down."
Colleague 1: "Yeah."
Colleague 2: "Who's Mubarak?"
Colleague 1: "The Egyptian Pharaoh"

Me: *facepalm*

 

(Though, in reality, many pharaohs did start out as military men.  I suppose you could say Mubarak is following in the footsteps of his forebears.)

Since January 25, I have been riveted by the scenes unfolding in Egypt.  I find myself committing that most human of errors and assuming everyone else feels the same way I do.  Apparently not! 

Just the other night, however (Thursday, the day Mubarak said he'd be staying until the September elections), we went out for dinner.  Our server, a very nice Italiana we had chatted with before, said something I'd been thinking rather guiltily: "I wish I was in Egypt right now, taking part in the protests!"  Wow, just typing that gave me a thrill!  Seriously, this is world changing.  Who wouldn't want to witness history?

Folks back in the US, I hear, are not as impressed as I.  There is confusion about why the protests started, who this Mubarak guy is, and what is the big deal anyway?  Just a bunch of folks far, far away from here, doing something that doesn't affect whether or not I can get my Warcraft on tonight!  (Please know that I am a WoW geek myself, so I say this will all due respect.)  Indeed, Fake Dispatch tweeted:

BREAKING: To make it an easier to understand revolution, Anti- and Pro-Mubarak groups put on Team Edward and Team Jacob shirts.

Might I just say: *facepalm*

 

Ok, just in case you don't know what the dealio is, I'll sum it up:

  • Hosni Mubarak has been the president of Egypt for THIRTY YEARS.

 

  • He has benefited from, and therefore not bothered to remove, "emergency law."  Under emergency law "…police powers are extended, constitutional rights suspended and censorship is legalized."
  • Under his rule, the government has become more and more corrupt, taking billions of dollars from the people, while unemployment and inflation rates have climbed, and very few improvements to the infrastructure of the country have been made.
  • Despite acts of police violence, and media and communication blackouts, the people of Egypt stuck by their convictions.  Many protesters carried bundles of flowers to demonstrate their peaceful intentions — and to hand flowers out to soldiers.
  • On Friday, 11 February 2011, President Mubarak announced that he would be stepping down, effective immediately.

 

Once again, I sent an SMS to our friend, Mena, telling him how happy I am for the people of Egypt.  Despite having to fight an Italian keyboard at an internet cafe to respond, he got back to me on Facebook:

Thank you very much and I hope to continue in your prayers all the time for my live andnew live in Egypt. For God makes a good start and the new Government of egypt will make agood thangs for Egypt.

 

Ok, look, I'll say it right now: I'm a big crybaby.  All the news out of Egypt in recent days, good and bad, got me teary-eyed pretty often.  Sometimes it was about the violence and the deaths, but most of it was for the determination, bravery, intelligence, and kindness of the people protesting.  And this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the amazing interfaith demonstrations of love and support.  I can only imagine, and very poorly at that, what Mena and his family must be feeling.  And yeah, I get teary thinking about it.

For those of you who follow TourAbsurd on Facebook, you may have seen the story I linked from Teaching Traveling by ShiSha, an American student from Boston who went to study in Egypt.  She recently wrote a follow-up article that you really should read.  She was there at the beginning of the protests and saw first-hand what was happening in the center of Cairo.  Ok, another turn-on-the-faucet moment was when I read this:

What makes this protest so great to me is that it is middle class people and upper class people, fighting for the lower class. Peasants don’t have Internet at home. They couldn’t have organized this on Facebook. These are the educated men and women of Egypt fighting for their God-given rights. I have never seen anything like this in my life.

 

Go read the article.  Really, you must: http://www.teachingtraveling.com/2011/02/12/shisha-a-boston-student-sees-egypt-protests-first-hand/

 

If all that seems too heavy for you, never fear — Wavy Gravy is here!  On Saturday, the Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie page on Facebook posted:

"Wavy Gravy's candidate finally won!! Nobody for President in Egypt!!! Yahooo!"

I'll throw my hat into the light-hearted ring and say I hope the awesomeness of that famous song from 1986 reigns longer than Mubarak did.  Long live The Bangles!

You: *facepalm*

 

 

Wow.  A peaceful protest that wouldn't quit.  Fantastic!  Hope is alive and change is possible.

 

10 thoughts on “What’s the deal with Egypt?

  1. I was following the Egypt protests quite closely and I really did want to be there to help out. I, too, become teary when it comes to people with conviction and passion that I’m scared I could never had to that degree. Nice post!

    1. Hey, Erica! I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment earlier. Thank you for your comment. It means a lot.

      I hope you are having a fantastic time on your travels and that you meet incredible, world-changing people. :)

  2. Great post! I know what you mean about people not caring about what happens far away from them. For the most part, people only seem to give a shit about what is right in front of them. I am sometimes guilty of this myself. :/

    1. I have to disagree with you on that. After writing this, I had discussions with people via comments, email, and in person, and found that many, many people felt the same way I did.

      American media seems to be the worst offender when it comes to fearmongering and misrepresentation. Those in the US who still believe news to be accurate and objective, and therefore don’t question the veracity of the information, are the most likely to fall victim to self-indulgence and ignorance. Corporations love this kind of complacency, because it means we’ll buy up whatever they shove down our throats — including bulls**t news, aid cuts, and increased military spending. (Sorry, mini rant there.)

      Anyway, I found that most of the people I know here in Europe were aware of the situation, interested, and excited by everything it could mean. A surprising number of Americans are, too. All of this gives me hope. Even the most sand-buried, undereducated folks will eventually get swept up in the tide of progress and positive movement. Things get better all the time. Really!

  3. I really enjoyed your article most people don’t know the back story of how things have gotten to the point that they had to protest. So far I have heard that there are similar protest going on in Lebanon and Yemen.

    1. ShiSha! Wow, thanks for stopping by. Really, it was your piece that inspired me to write this, so thank you so very much. Looking forward to reading more of your work!

  4. I think you’re right that many people in the U.S. (and other countries, to be fair) haven’t been as engaged as some of us in following the revolution, Mubarak’s resignation and the issues facing the Egyptian people now. Most of the people I know have been thoroughly engrossed in it all. I love your summary of the “dealio” – nicely done. But I skipped watching the video- I’ve never been a fan of the Bangles!

    1. Hahaha! But you’re familiar enough with their work to have an opinion, which says something about their staying power!

      Seriously, though, like any of the pop culture references I make, there is an undertone of self-deprecation because free association based on movie, TV, and radio is about as much as much culture as Americans are believed to have. I often think of Wayne’s World when Mike Myers was trying to flirt with Tia Carrere’s character. All he could think to say was something about Kung Fu fighting *wince*. Way to blow off and stereotype a culture, dude! ;)

  5. Great post, it really got me thinking. And what I noticed is how subjective the news on TV can actually be. I watched the news every day (I follow Egypt pretty closely, also for my job), and hated the fact that all the imagines they brought were violence. As in many other protests around the world, this one, in fact, was also a peaceful one. But, of course, some violence always catches for audition, right?
    It was about time for a change.

    1. I have found that, while subject to a different type of inaccuracy, social media-based news seems to provide a clearer viewpoint and more honesty than television news, at least in the US. I don’t own a television here in Ireland, but the snippets I caught indicated the coverage here may have been more balanced. Certainly, the online streams from Al Jazeera were better!

      It was impossible to keep up with the Twitter stream for the #jan25 tag, but I dove in every once in a while anyway. Incredible stuff! Links to blogs, news stories, video, and photographs I never would have found otherwise. People power is where it’s at!

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