Sunday, July 17, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Tahrir, in Itself, a Nation

You can change a country’s leader, but until the people change everything will remain the same. However, what Egyptian is going to listen to this when it comes from a foreigner? After all, what would WE know about Egypt? So when it comes from a fellow Egyptian finally realizing this, you have to hope that the words will sink in to his fellow Egyptians.

It seems international media attention has dismissed the present demonstrations in Egypt as secondary stories at best, and it might surprise you to know that I completely concur. It is not news worthy considering the battles waging in Libya, Yemen and even Bahrain; however, this is my life at the moment. A good friend of mine passed along this blog from Sandmonkey.org which details one Tahrir Square sit-in’s perspective.

I felt the blog was incredibly too long and wordy to really captivate and hold reader attention, but nonetheless offered very valid viewpoints as to how Tahrir sit-ins are an experiment as to how Egypt really functions. The excerpt also has the author coming to the conclusion that the sit-ins are pointless as those participating are just creating the same environment within the square that they are supposedly fighting to ban (yet at the end he still urges others to join Tahrir which is a little mindnumbing).

The author and friends created a tent community, but after having various onlookers asking intrusive questions and leering at the females present, they organized the tents in a circle only allotting for one entrance/exit and created a safe-haven in the center. The Sandmonkey said, “In essence, without noticing, we – the people judging suburban compounds as being elitist and classist – created one without noticing.”

Sandmonkey also posed other parallels like allowing three children into the safety zone, and while offering snacks, later expecting the children to partake in helping keep the area clean, putting up supplies, etc. (child labor) or the volunteers at the security check points into Tahrir eventually bowing down to accept bribes from street venders trying to gain access (security breaches and corruption).

“For some people, what I just recounted will be heartbreaking, but to me it’s brilliant because it’s a learning experience in governance unlike anything the world has ever seen. And it gives all of those new parties and movements that aim to rule the country a chance to take a much closer look at the issues facing us and figure out the limitations of their solutions and cracks in their organizational structure.” The real heartbreaker in this is that very few will recognize these points.

The author also noted that while searching people at the checkpoint, even if a few “bad apples” were present, that people act right if an “imposing figure shows up and treats people decently no matter how much they abused him with rudeness.” Well, I can parallel this story on my own: Have any of you left Egypt to go to Europe or the US? The simple concept of a line is lost in translation here, but when leaving the country, these people somehow find the meaning of a line and other proper mannerisms. However, upon leaving these destinations traveling back to Egypt, you find that the lawlessness that they seemed to have momentarily put aside, is back in full force. When I flew back to Cairo on Delta from JFK in NYC in November 2009, I was astounded at the lack of courtesy, simple adherence to basic rules and just complete disrespect for everyone. Egyptians tried to cut one another in line over and over again, five different ticket holders at once tried to bombard the Delta representative, the two bag carry-on per person apparently didn’t apply to them, etc. The same occurrence happens each year I travel to the UAE. Egyptians can act right, but they just choose to ignore the rules and see how far they can get by doing so and with no real government or police force in place, you see the anarchy that has loomed (please note this isn’t all Egyptians as a few anomalies exist, but this is a big chunk).

“But the ultimate lesson came from one thing: ‘No Military Trials for Civilians,’” said Sandmonkey. “We might never control this country or rule it, but that may not be our role. Our role is to frame the debate and the demands, push and advocate for them by explaining to people how they relate and benefit.”

To view this long-winded excerpt, you may click “Tahrir: An Exercise in Nation Building

STOP SELLING YOUR LITTLE GIRLS

While reforming the nation seems to be at the top of everyone’s list, something else that should be added is the ban of selling underage girls to Emiratis, Saudis and the like. I've known of this existing for awhile, but I was just informed that a hospital in El Bardrshen falsifies documents to say that a young girl is 16 when in fact she is younger (and often times much younger) for these “Gulfies” to marry. The age in Egypt for legalized marriage of a female is 16 and what happens to these girls?

The Arab man marries her, takes her virginity and leaves after the summer. Paying a one-time fee is all that’s required by the families (around LE 17,000 or approximately $2,900). And what happens to this young girl? If she does get pregnant, well – it’s her own responsibility. She will never see the man again not only to regale the abuses that she will suffer in that month to two months of torture. In this society, once a female has lost her virginity, she will more than likely remain unmarried and an outcast (or worse, forced into a life of prostitution).

So Dear Egypt, you want change, look within.

No comments:

Post a Comment