Change in Egypt

Usually I keep politics out of this blog, which began simply as an alternative to emails for friends and family to follow my life here, and to record some of the experiences and emotions I knew I would not otherwise find time to record.

Keeping politics out has been difficult since the Revolution began in January 2011, especially as I feel so connected to the people and future of Egypt. There are hundreds of sources that can provide more detailed and culturally informed comment than I could, from Egyptian and international media to the many bloggers who focus on these developments and their implications, and my policy continues to be that if my readers are interested, you can easily find these sources on the internet.

However, people have been emailing and calling, asking for my views on the choice of President and where to next for Egypt? I still suggest web search for the articles that will help you get some idea of the many, complex sides to these changes, but I decided to share one response which is doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter. It gives pause for thought to those who may be fast to condemn what is happening here.

Already, the people I know who are liberal and involved in culture, arts and media, are pushing ahead with the attitude that whatever the new powers do, they can be held accountable. The people here now know they have the strength to force change, and I believe will never be oppressed and caught in a decades long trap like the Mubarak years.

This response by journalist Deena Adel Eid has received some passionate reactions, for and against; most statements made here at the moment generate controversy, and I feel that while this piece also makes some generalizations, it raises some good points…Also read her follow up comments after she received some harsh reactions, at http://www.facebook.com/deena.adel/posts/10151062958098245

“If you voted for Shafiq, I’m sorry your candidate lost, you have every right to express grief about it.

I’m sorry those people celebrating victory in Tahrir don’t seem educated and don’t look “decent” enough for your liking. I’m sorry that while you and I were getting a proper education and going shopping, they were dying of sickness, unable to provide for their kids, having to send their 7 year olds to work to help provide food and clothes. I’m sorry that as a result, this has taken a toll on their looks and you now have to suffer looking at an unpleasant sight.

I’m sorry that I lived in a bubble most my life, ignored those people and didn’t reach out to them like I should. Meanwhile, a banned religious political group provided them with help, money, clothes, blankets…. I’m sorry they now prefer that group to me or you or Shafiq who disregarded their needs all our lives.

I’m sorry you now believe it’s “their country” not yours. I’m sorry they felt like it was “our country” not theirs for the past 30 years.

I’m sorry you identify yourself as a “liberal” but curse everyone who doesn’t share the same beliefs as you. I’m sorry you don’t know that the main principle of liberalism is individual freedom, which means allowing everyone to choose who to vote or not vote for, what to wear, what to believe, and not curse them for believing in something that’s different from what you believe in.

I’m sorry you want to pack your bags and leave. I’m sorry your patriotism was so strong before the elections when you spoke about defending a civil Egypt, but now you believe that won’t be the case, and your “patriotism” has suddenly vanished and you don’t want to stay and fight for that civil Egypt. I’m sorry you don’t think your vision for Egypt is worth fighting for. Small reminder: That group you despise so strongly has been fighting to implement its vision for over 80 years. I’m sorry you’re not willing to put up that same fight.

I’m sorry you expect women’s roles to be diminished. I’m sorry you haven’t met the great, strong, inspiring Egyptian women that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. I know that these women will never be silenced. I’m sorry you expected to sit back and let someone steal your rights from you, but I know they’ll fight on your behalf and make sure that doesn’t happen.

I’m sorry you think “they’ll turn Egypt into Pakistan or Afghanistan” and you believe you don’t have a say in what direction your country is heading. I’m sorry 30 years of oppression has taught you that it’s only those in charge who have a say. I’m sorry the past year and a half have taught you nothing about the power of the people.”

by Deena Adel Eid

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