Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Accumulated Misgivings

Islamists gathered in Tahrir on Friday, July 29 (Al-Ahram)
Cairo is getting geared to host one of the biggest trials seen in the country in over three decades on Wednesday and I wonder if former president Hosni Mubarak is thinking right about now, “Should have gone to Saudi.” However, there is the possibility that he remains unmoved by these events. Since nothing has changed to date in regards to the defacto rulers, could this just be another ploy to momentarily pacify the masses? Or he could just completely go all Egyptian soap opera and continue to “claim” the inability to eat solid foods and pull up in a hospital bed – sadly, this sounds like the most probable option.

Mubarak Police Academy (NewCooler)
Mubarak will be tried alongside his two sons, ex-Interior Minister and six senior police officials for crimes including brutality and murder during the 18-day revolution. And just when it looked like it couldn’t get worse for the ousted leader, the trial will take place at the police training grounds aptly named Mubarak Police Academy. No, I’m not joking.

On July 23 more than 231 people were injured in demonstrations as a result of clashes between groups of unidentified armed men and pro-reform protestors marching toward the Egyptian Ministry of Defense. News reports claim this is a turning point signifying a military crackdown. Not true.

The conflict was a result of residents growing angry over what has now taken over the revolution and Tahrir Square: opportunists. In Abbassiya, an area within Cairo, main streets – particularly Salah Salem – came to a halt as protestors used cars to block traffic. It was reported that unidentified men then attacked demonstrators, accrediting these “thugs” to those sympathetic with the ruling military forces. Not true.

Many Egyptians are growing restless with the continuous protests. But more so, these protests are full of empty, unrealistic demands. This is a turning point, but not in the way that international media is viewing it. This is a strong indicator of disunity and a potential civil war should the military continue to ignore the restlessness and discord among citizens.

And then the Day of [Dis]Unity brought out groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists, Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, etc. to the square to demand sharia (Islamic) law be enforced – once again playing into fears that these extremists have power. Not true.

Journalist and political analyst Diaa Rashwan said in an interview to Al-Ahram that while these groups packed Tahrir on July 29, half came from different governorates. “All over Egypt, they’re estimated at only two million which is not nearly enough for their political ambitions.” Rashwan continued, “Their numbers might have been impressive for the protests, but winning elections is a whole different story. If they were two million on the streets, plus two more who supported their demands from home, that makes them four million overall. In Egypt, there are 48 million voters. According to these numbers, the Islamists comprise a minority, a negligible one, and that fact is obvious now.”

Thanks. Took the words right out of my mouth.

And agreeing with another journalist friend of mine, does no one find it strange that these groups refused to take part in any of the demonstrations leading to Mubarak’s resignation on February 11, but the last weekend before Ramadan, so many show up in support for sharia? Come on, we all know some Sunday Christians (you know, the ones that only go to church on Sunday and fail to uphold the morals throughout the rest of the week), so why should Ramadan Muslims be considered any different?

Meanwhile, 26 political groups announced a month-long hiatus from protesting in Tahrir Square during Ramadan. What do you think the chances are that before departing, they cleaned up their trash? Funny how people are too lazy to clean up after themselves, yet they continue to wonder why government employees never seem to get the job done. Good job guys, all of you have transformed Tahrir Square into an offshoot of Manshet Nasr’s Garbage City.

It was said that other smaller groups will remain in Tahrir to continue protesting for (unrealistic and unknown) demands. If you happened to see this in the news, please allow me to translate:

smaller groups = individuals
protesting = whining about being in the square while fasting
demands = requiring free food because it’s Ramadan and how dare you not supply them with their necessities

That’s  a wrap folks.


Looking at Articles from a Different Angle

A friend of mine sent this article “Blinded Iranian Acid Victim Pardons Attacker” which details how a woman’s refusal of marriage prompted her suitor to throw acid severely disfiguring her face and body. While reading this story, you might think this woman is saint-like in being able to forgive such an attack. Here’s a different perspective:

The courts ordered the assailant to be punished with a couple of drops of acid poured into his eyes THE DAY BEFORE RAMADAN. Had the woman not pardoned the man, she would have had backlash from her peers and community over her inability to forgive (it is Ramadan after all). However, you will never see honor killings of a female whom allegedly committed adultery take place the day before Ramadan. But if you did, it would be justified for a man to carry out such an action. And if a man pardoned the alleged female adulterer (I say alleged because often times this is just a rumor unlike the undeniable evidence of the man throwing acid), he would've been an outcast from the community. Always a double standard. So does no one else find it odd that this MAN’s punishment was to be carried out on July 31 when Ramadan began August 1?

So just maybe the courts were unsympathetic to the woman, but knew that something had to be done. In order to show its intolerance for such acts (although that’s clearly misleading), it ruled that the punishment be carried out on July 31 knowing that the woman would not, in good conscious and based upon peer pressure, be able to follow through. Just a thought.

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