Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Letters from Egypt: My Conspiracy Theory

All the election campaign posters in a popular medan
For those of you who know me personally, you know how I detest conspiracy theories. I will walk away from any conversation discussing the Illuminati, Bilderberg, New World Order and the like. And yet I find myself concocting my own theory as to why Egypt’s newly formed government sans president is edging to the likes of what could be deemed heavily Islamic.

Did you know that the Salafi party never existed prior to Mubarak’s ousting?

My theory is that the Salafi was originally a part of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and still are; however, the strategic and calculating MB knew that with those hard-lined members, it would present a negative view for the moderates in Egypt. After all, it was the moderates that started the revolution. In case any of you don’t recall, the MB refused to take part in protests and didn’t jump on the bandwagon until it seemed the Tahrir marches were making progress.

I have to wonder if the MB leaders proposed that the more conservative, “bearded ones” start their own political faction with promises of prominent positions within the government. And all while still gaining monetary support and operating under the auspice of the MB. I believe this is a strong likelihood for one major reason: the Ministry of Education.

In all the deals that the MB struck with liberals and conservatives alike, probably THE MOST IMPORTANT MINISTRY was given to the Salafi. Adolf Hitler started the same practice: spreading bigotry in classrooms to raise an army and before long, children were reporting their parents for treason. It also wouldn’t be shocking since most of those hard-lined Islamists admire Hitler’s rhetoric. If the Salafi is a part of the MB and the MB wants to originally drop its so-called “new, liberal look”, what better way to do it than to give the more conservative faction the Ministry of Education so that children will be raised in this line of thinking and eventually produce a nation ruled by the majority which would be in their image.

I received an analysis breaking down the Egyptian Expat vote for president from the University of Manchester to which I responded asking what connection the supposed analyst gained her insight. The report said that “unsurprisingly” the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Salafi party garnered the most support. I disagree. This is extremely surprising, but other variables should be taken into account.

Egyptians living abroad are usually more liberal thinkers. What was missing in this analysis was the difficult task – almost impossible – for most Egyptians living in other places to register to vote abroad as new ID cards were required. What should also be noted is that about 700,000 Egyptians live in the US as opposed to 333,000 Egyptians living in Saudi Arabia – where the majority of the expat votes derived at about 235,000. Why was it made easier for Egyptians living in Saudi to vote?

Option 1:
It’s easier for Saudi Egyptians to return to Egypt to obtain a new ID card.

Option 2:
Was it made easier for Saudi Egyptians to cast an absentee ballot as opposed to those Egyptians residing in more “liberal/western” nations like the US and UK? It is plausible that the MB and Salafi party – with a plethora of funding – helped provide monetary assistance in order to obtain a greater amount of votes from Egyptians residing in a like-minded nation (Egyptians living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – KSA – are shown to be more conservative which probably goes without saying).

A young fruit vendor in Tunisia is accredited with sparking the Arab Spring. Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire over unemployment in the country which helped oust the longtime leader Ben Ali and trickled into leadership changes in Egypt.

Tunisians and Egyptians wanted more employment opportunities, particularly for the youth (which jumpstarted the revolutions in both countries).
Since the deposing of leaders, Tunisia saw its GDP decrease from 3% to 0% and Egypt saw a decline from 5% to 1% according to the International Monetary Fund. And while revolutions were initially started in protest of unemployment rates, Egypt has seen an uptick in unemployment from 10% to 15% with the youth unemployment rate increasing to a projected 25%.

Tunisia and Egypt wanted the right to vote.
In October 2011, it was reported that almost 70% of Tunisians lined up to vote.
Only 46% of the 50 million Egyptians eligible to vote cast their ballots.

Tunisia’s moderate Islamist party won the majority of seats in Parliament, as opposed to Egypt’s parliament being composed of more rightwing Islamist factions (Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi) totaling around 70%.

Of course like I said previously, uprisings have already started to occur with run-off candidate and former Mubarak supporter, Ahmed Shafiq’s headquarters being set on fire.

I’ve been hearing reports that those people who supported Hamdeen Salahy will choose to boycott the next round of elections, displeased with the two options (Shafiq and Moursy). And many of these people are the same people who initiated the Tahrir protests. Why fight for the right to vote and then refuse only because your candidate didn’t make the run-offs? Forget about the so-called setback of the revolution with a former Mubarak supporter, look at your own actions. Boycotting elections is your own personal setback toward a free and fair process (which will not come overnight).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Letters from Egypt: Power Outages amid Elections

Ataka Thermal Power Plant, Source: ECG Engineering
Many Cairo residents (estimated at over 50%) were left in the dark yesterday from 5pm-8pm after experiencing repeated power cuts throughout the day as a result of a gas shortage.

Whenever I explain this, everyone says: “What does gas have to do with the power cuts?” Actually, Egypt’s electricity is mostly fueled by natural gas making up 86% of the country’s electricity generation. Egypt has a great deal of hydrocarbon resources (fossil fuels) making it one of Africa’s top five producing nations, and with more discoveries, natural gas is predicted to be the “primary growth engine of the country’s energy sector for the foreseeable future,” according to the US Energy Information Administration. In fact, natural gas is the main source of energy for 32 power stations in Egypt.

I won’t bore you with the major power plants, electricity generation capacity, etc., but I’m sure many of you are aware of the repeated attacks that have occurred on pipelines transporting gas to Israel and Jordan. However, the gas issue is not something new to Egypt nor is it solely focused on sending exports to others (so don’t get your panties in a wad people and yet again blame Israel). Even prior to Mubarak’s ousting, the country faced this dilemma. In 2009, gas exports were on the rise; however, due to an increase in domestic consumption a moratorium was placed on new export contracts and the country’s exports have decreased steadily since.

It should be noted that at the same time Egypt is experiencing power cuts, the government resumed natural gas exports through the Arab Gas Pipeline to Jordan. While the exports to Jordan are not as high as they once were, the gas leaving the country could have a negative impact on many residents and even see retaliation as a result. It’s rumored that repeated power outages will continue over the upcoming days and speculation continues to mount as to the timing of the unorganized load shedding (scheduled power outages to help meet local demand) amid presidential elections.

Many African countries face the problem with electrification, and many lesser developed countries practice load shedding. What is interesting is that Egypt did not rotate the neighborhoods during the power outage, give any warning prior and it was only in Cairo. So this parlays even more as to the motives of the ruling military junta just before election polls open. Egypt has continued to have a problem with gas, and unfortunately massive power cuts in the business center of the country will continue to plummet the economy and discord among residents.

Without reliable electricity, you will see a trickledown effect occur. For example once the power came back on yesterday, residents rushed to the gas stations to fuel up among growing concerns of more cuts to come(gas pumps are inoperable during power outages). Creating panic at the pump will result in gas stations running out of the product (like banks plummeting in the US and people withdrawing all their funds which causes the entire banking system to suffer). Businesses lost revenue, particularly restaurants which do a decent amount of service during those hours. Furthermore, with the country’s economic downturn after the revolution, the only new places/shops you will find opening are new eateries (despite how bad it is, everyone still needs to eat), large corporate conglomerations (like Speedo and Converse taking over local businesses unable to survive) and Chinese shops (because they go everywhere – especially seizing the moment when a country is in trouble and Westerners are pulling out). Look at the rest of Africa and the main reason for its lack in economic progression: electricity. However, Egypt is one of the most advanced with over 95% of its residents having access to electricity (unlike the most populated country in Africa, Nigeria, with less than 40% of its total population having access).

My advice is to keep the flashlight near, candles on standby and charge up that iPad/laptop/tablet. Prepare for some darkness or at least annoyances like a child playing with the light switch – on/off, on/off, on/off. And also prepare for the results of the so-called “democratically” held elections to take a turn for the worse and more demonstrations to ensue. As most Egyptians are uncertain as to whom they want as the president, factions opposing the winner (whomever that may be) will arise in addition to more Tahrir occupants.

If you’re interested in learning more about Egypt’s electricity or simply want to do more research, I suggest looking up these sites:
Egypt Gas’ Natural Gas Projects
US Energy Information Agency (EIA) Country Information on Egypt
Egypt Energy Report, country analysis from 2006

Monday, May 21, 2012

Letters from Egypt: The REAL Priority

It’s not upcoming elections. It’s not the president. It’s not parliament. It’s not alleviating poverty. It’s definitely not education.

The priority for many Egyptians is…

*drum roll please*

SOCCER!!!!!!!!!!

And what better way than trying to infuse sports into politics – at least for appearances? It isn’t the first time sports has entered the political arena, and Egypt isn’t novel in its approach. Since I’m a typical American who loves American football, baseball and basketball – I had to do more research when I began writing this article.

Brief Background on Egypt’s Ultras
For those of you who are like me, first you need to understand that Egypt has many soccer teams but the main two are Al Ahly and Zamalak. Both club fans are most often referred to as Ultras (Zamalak is called Ultras White Knights while Ahly is dubbed Ultras Ahlawy), which are considered extreme (Wiki even says “fanatical”) sports fans that are ‘sometimes’ influenced by political and/or religious ideology.

After the revolution, graffiti began popping up throughout major cities. In Alexandria, many murals were created to remember the martyrs. However, the latest designs all depict the country’s Ultras. At first I thought it ridiculous that with everything going on, people seemed so much more concerned with their beloved club. And it isn’t just the youth) who are undoubtedly the artists responsible for the graffiti).

On May 2, demonstrators were attacked by unknown assailants with the death toll around 11-13 people and at least 100 injured. What was the military doing during this time (which is still currently considered the ruling body of Egypt)? Rescuing members of Al Ahly in Mali after a coup d’etat erupted in the country. Egypt’s top soccer team left the Malian capital Bamako on May 3 via military aircraft. So while my pictures my depict drawings and ideologies of the youth in Egypt, obviously it’s also a top priority for the military. Forget the clashes erupting on Egyptian streets that very day, violence in Mali preventing the Al Ahly players from making their way back to Nile country was clearly more important.

But it wasn’t just about soccer as I found out with my research. It was reported that some Ultras groups had formed a new political party to “help in shaping their country’s future.” Ultras Worldwide posted a blog on January 8 that said: “Ultras groups have spearheaded the protests against the military rule…” I didn’t know that, did you? It didn’t appear that so-called Ultras’ members (although the Ultras deny any involvement) weren’t retaliating against the military in Port Said that day after 74 people were killed after a match between Al Masry and Al Ahly.

The same website reported on February 1, “We have been hearing from many people in Egypt that this attack was orchestrated by members of SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) who are trying to harm the Ultras of Al Ahly because of the group’s role in the revolution.” Hmmm, no one I met in Tahrir on January 25, 28 and February 11, 2011 ever said they were a part of the Ultras. I don’t downplay that perhaps the Ultras had some sort of role (you can even recall the role of the New Orleans Saints helping boost morale in the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina), but I doubt it was as big as they take credit.

But that’s also like the Muslim Brotherhood. It seems to have escaped everyone’s memory that the MB refused to take part in the initial protests, but now claim they were instrumental in the revolution. And all of this is like famed Egyptian archeologist Zahi Hawass who claims to have stumbled upon some of the biggest discoveries of Ancient Egypt, although it was really been made in part by the efforts of foreign archeologist. While everyone is busy taking credit for things they didn’t do, start or remotely help evolve, the way forward has been negated.

And just like Hawass who faced corruption charges, the Ultras so-called political party was also said to have been trying to capitalize on the political instability of the country.

From the blog:
After talking to someone who is from Cairo and very up-to-date with the situations there, we have been informed that unfortunately this new political party was formed by people trying to capitalize on the influence that the Ultras have in Egypt. Ultras White Knight has no official role in this political party. Hopefully the Ultras continue their fight for their country and help end all oppressions”.

How many times do I have to repeat that a change in leadership doesn’t mean anything until the people change?

Naturally, Palestine is a focus amid all the other problems Egypt is currently facing...

It’s prevalent throughout Africa to have a government overthrown often, and you have to wonder if Egypt is going to continue on with political instability any time a particular group doesn’t get their way. It isn’t farfetched to imagine that more protests, demonstrations and violence will occur post-election with dissatisfied parties claiming fraud. Is the only way for Egypt to evolve through a dictatorship?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Letters from Egypt: Election Inconsistencies

All the campaign posters ahead of the microbus
It is a rarity, particularly in Africa, not to see a leader emerging in election polls most often based on a lack of transparency; however, in Egypt, it is currently anyone’s guess. In the US, polls are continuously updated with analysis on who is garnering which state and other statistics (minorities, women, etc). There is absolutely no way that any political analyst, Egyptian or foreign, can aptly describe the likely hopefuls in Egypt (and if you hear anyone doing so, take it with a grain of salt).

As this is the first “democratically-held” elections to take place in the country, it was also momentous for a presidential debate to be televised on May 9. What I bet you didn’t know nor was it reported was that the presidential debate didn’t even use Egyptian Arabic, but instead fos7a (fusha/fosha) or better known as classical Arabic. I asked a friend if she watched the debates and she said, “I began watching and about 10-15 minutes into it, I realized it was in fos7a and I can’t understand fos7a.”

While many Egyptians can understand the basics in fos7a, the majority’s knowledge base is mostly based on fos7a as used in the Q’aran (meaning technical knowledge is not widespread). Egyptian Arabic is the most widely spoken and understood dialect (particularly Cairene) throughout the Arab world mainly as a result of Egyptian media dominating Arab cinema. So question: WHY WOULD PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES BE HELD IN A DIALECT THAT ISN’T COMMONLY SPOKEN IN THE COUNTRY OF SAID PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS??? Why wouldn’t presidential candidates want the majority of voters to hear their platforms?

The BBC had an article on May 18, “Opinion polls give few clues to Egypt presidential election” which brought up some valid points that those of us on the ground already know. The elections are coming up in three days, and yet it seems like everyone is changing their minds daily (forget daily, it could even be hourly). I’ve seen repeated posts on Facebook that say, “Who is everyone voting for?” Noha Ali told me, “I want to know who the majority is going for because I want my vote to count.”

The Baseera Center has been collecting samples detailing recent opinion polls. The fifth poll, taken May 12, showed that former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was in the lead, just ahead of former foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Moussa. The survey said, “Results are based on telephone (both landline and mobile) interviews conducted entirely in one day, May 12, 2012, with a random sample of 2,294 Egyptian adults [over the age of 18].” What confuses me about this poll is how the random sample is collected, which the report fails to acknowledge.

The BBC also noted that perhaps Moussa and Fotouh suffered because of “lackluster television performances.” Was it really lackluster or did people just not thoroughly understand the commentary given that it was in fos7a and again, not even in Egyptian Arabic! I will continue to reiterate this as I am just flabbergasted, it would be the equivalent of watching Obama vs Romney with voice overs in Cockney or Afrikaan English.

Showing support for Fotouh
Independent candidate and Islamist, Aboul Fotouh is said to be in third place, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi is in fourth place. Yet previously, government-owned media outlet al-Ahram placed Moussa in the lead with Fotouh, Mursi and Hamdeen Sabbahi following respectively.

While organizations are just now trying to understand polling (it isn’t as though it’s ever been allowed), Baseera Center head Magued Osman noted that the phone samplings could be skewed depending on different variables like during the day, more housewives are answering the phone. Women working in Egypt currently occupy about 24% of the overall job force according to figures from Unicef. Osman also said that a high percentage of undecided voters (37.4% according to the organization) were women and “some of the candidates have recently picked up on the need to win the female vote.”

And while there are some liberal, independent AND intelligent Egyptian women out there, I want to also state that the majority residing within the country depend on their male family members – mostly husbands – to influence (cough cough, rather MAKE) their decisions. And let’s be real, it’s not like we’re going to see a feminist/bra-burning revolution any time in the near future in this male-dominated society.

Below is a Facebook excerpt from an Egyptian friend of mine who is liberal and his reasons for supporting Sabbahi.

I know I don't talk much about politics on Facebook but I felt the urge to share how I think and feel concerning this matter because I know in my heart and mind this could actually change someone's mind or get us a little closer to our ultimate goal "better Egypt"
  • Why should everyone vote for this man?
  • Is he really "one of us" and by "us" I mean the majority of Egyptian people, the hardworking, struggling to live (middle class B- all the way to poverty line and beyond) ? And if so, is this the kind of leader we need at this critical stage?
  • Is social justice really the key to social security and harmony?
  • Is this why the new president should be concerned more with poor people and their needs?
  • Why did France choose a socialist as a new president? Wasn't that enough to make us see the world is changing and if France had problems in this area, we should be really worried.
  • Does he have a clear political and economical strategy to move us forward?
  • Does he have a deep sense of Arab nationalism and what it used to be Egypt's major role in the Arab region and the world?
  • What about a real democratic system where it’s political and social ideologies or overviews are founded on ideas of liberty and equality between human beings (Regardless of Anything)?
  • What about political diversity? Or Egyptians killed "el 7ezb al watany" to start a new one but with a beard?

This man is really decent, noble and honorable with a long history of patriotism. This is why I'm voting for Hamdeen Sabbahi.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Letters from Egypt: Harassmeter Survey

Source: Harassmeter's FB Page
With work overwhelmingly busy and little motivation, I have two important blogs to get out but I feel the Harassmeter is the most time sensitive. I was sent an invite via one of my Facebook friends about an online survey gauging the reactions of sexual harassment in Egypt.

Harssmeter was started by a group of four Egyptians who chose to “tackle this issue as a result of a workshop by World Learning and the Jordanian Center for Civic Education.” Aiming to get 1,000 responses, I decided to post the link (available in Arabic and English) for any of you living here (male and female, foreign and local) in hopes of getting more responses to the survey. Sidenote –SurveyMonkey is a valid surveying tool often used by companies to generate new ideas.

The group defined sexual harassment as “intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.” It said that sexual harassment has many forms:
Verbal harassment (varies from inappropriate comments to sexual comments or suggestions)
Body check up (staring or facial gestures and expressions)
Harassing phone calls.
Following/ stalking
Showing sexual parts
Physical harassment (touching or groping)
Rape

Earlier today I took the survey with the first three questions were standard: age, gender and veiling (this is an anonymous survey so no names are obtained). The other questions are as follows:

Do you think Egypt is facing a problem of sexual harassment?
This is really a no-brainer since in my blog “Twice Branded” a poll was taken in 2008 that had 2,000 respondents with 62% of the Egyptian men admitting to harassing women.

Do you personally know someone who was sexually harassed in Egypt?

Over 80% of Egyptian women are harassed with over 98% of foreign women incurring the wrath of inappropriate testosterone. If you don’t know someone who has been harassed, then please tell me what rock you’re living under.

 

Were you personally ever exposed to sexual harassment in Egypt?

I wouldn’t know how to react walking out of my flat without enduring some sort of harassment. Even one day I was sort of dressed like a boy and wearing a baseball cap – I was still harassed…

 

When harassed, how often do you talk about it to someone?

Obviously it is commonplace and just like anything that occurs on the regular, you don’t always discuss it. I would also feel that more foreigners bring up the topic as opposed to Egyptians, yet Egyptians that socialize often with foreigners will also give their opinion when the topic is discussed.

 

When harassed, how often does someone step in to help?

In my personal experience, I’ve only had one man try to help me and it was during Ramadan (he was also walking with another female). Once when I was in a situation and reacted, two veiled women behind me that saw all the events told me after I retaliated: “It wasn’t his fault, he didn’t mean it.”

 

In the past six months, which kind of sexual harassment were you exposed to THE MOST?

The choices consisted of exposing oneself, harassing phone calls, followed, physical harassment (groping or touching) and rape. The problem I had with this is that it’s pretty apparent that the #1 choice is going to be verbal harassment, but it doesn’t negate that the other choices also happen often.

 

Were you exposed to sexual harassment in the past six months?

Again, it’s rare that you can go one full day without harassment. And even if you do go one full day, I’d be willing to bet that it was because you stayed in your flat for 24 straight hours.

 

In the past six months, how many kinds of those mentioned above were you subjected to?

My answer was two, but here and there, I will have three or four of those choices.

 

When was the last time you were sexually harassed?

This morning?

 

Where were you harassed the LAST time?

Public transportation, public venues (cinemas, malls, cafes, etc), school or university or work

 

What was the approximate age of the harasser?

I actually wanted to pick all of the above, but I chose the ages between 18-25; however, I feel that a great deal is from teenagers (which would fall under the age of 18).

 

When you were harassed that LAST time, what was your response?

Choices: remained silent, responded (verbally or physically), asked for help, went to a police station

Do you carry a self-defense tool with you, when outside? If so, what kind (spray, electric shock device, weapon such as a knife)?

Since both men and women are asked to take this survey, the question “Have you ever harassed somebody” would be applicable to the males.
Something tells me that even if men did harass a woman, they might not consider it harassment.

When someone gets harassed verbally, what do you think they should best do? When someone gets harassed physically, what do you think they should best do?

Remain silent, respond, ask for help, go to police

 

When you witness someone being harassed, what do you do?

Interfere, nothing, never witnessed it


Which of these statements do you agree with?
A woman is more likely to get harassed because of the way she dresses.
It doesn’t have to do with what the woman is wearing. A harasser will harass anyway even if the woman is covered.

While I chose choice number 2, I do feel it’s a little of both. Sure it isn’t acceptable under any circumstance, but at the same time, you have to adhere to the culture and standards (sure Egypt wasn’t always so conservative and true I still wear sleeveless, but I gave up showing leg unless I’m going from my door in a friend’s car to a particular place – I can’t decide what’s more attractive to men here, my collar bone or ankles…)

Do you think too much exposure to video clips and foreign movies helps increase sexual harassment?
Definitely not. I once witnessed an old Egyptian movie on an Egypt Air flight that had a horrible rape scene. Blame the West all you want because that’s the game right: blame everyone else instead of taking responsibility.

Which of these statements do you agree with the most?
Women should wear appropriate clothes. It is their responsibility; and if they don’t, don’t blame the harasser.
It is a joint responsibility; women should follow the country’s clothes tradition, and men should not harass.
Sexual harassment by all means is a crime; it is never the responsibility of the woman. One should not harass no matter what, and women’s clothing should never be an excuse for someone to commit such a crime.

I chose option 3 although I do feel that you have to be more aware of the country/culture and dress code.

Which of these statements do you agree with the most?  
Do not blame the harasser when getting married these days is so demanding and expensive.
People have basic sexual instincts.
The society and the marital status should not be an excuse.

To be fair, I’m unsure why those are really options (so obviously I opted for option 3). Besides, it doesn’t matter if the men are married or not, you find harassers in both the singles and married individuals.

Which of these statements do you agree with the most?  
Sexual harassment is more likely to happen in poorer neighborhoods with higher unemployment & illiteracy rates.
Sexual harassment happens everywhere. It’s an entire culture phenomenon, regardless of the harasser’s societal background.
Sexual harassment can be higher in upper class neighborhoods with more media exposure and more westernized physical attitude (on the females’ side).

I said option 2, but I do feel that more harassment happens in the areas with a high influx of foreigners residing – it has nothing to do about the class. For instance, many Egyptians patrol Maadi, although they live nowhere near the neighborhood, just because of the high percentage of foreigners residing.

Are you familiar with the penalties that have to do with sexual harassment?
We are all aware of the law that was passed during Mubarak’s rule back in 2008-2009. Not that it was ever enforced at that time, it definitely isn’t enforced now.

Do you want to see a law addressing sexual harassment?
Revert to the previous statement – a law doesn’t matter if it isn’t enforced. This society is still corrupt and will remain that way for awhile (ie just paying “baksheesh” to get out of trouble)

Do you think a law will help eradicate the problem? Why?
See above.

And the final question:

In order to end this problem, what are the solutions that you think can be done? What are the most important steps that need to be taken? Please share ideas that you think can solve this problem.

What might be surprising is actually the Egyptian female attitude toward harassment that I've seen in various neighborhoods. For instance, at my office, one employee came in and began to tell of how she'd been harassed on a microbus earlier. Two of the Egyptian females and a Palestinian female married to an Egyptian (all veiled) said, "No, that wasn't an Egyptian. It was a foreigner, Egyptian men don't do that."

When it's happened to me, they simply say it's because I'm foreign as though that makes it alright.

I've also seen the highest rate of harassment coming from teenagers, even those from so-called "high society." They have no respect and I have to wonder if it's because it isn't addressed at home. Do mothers not teach their sons? Men tell their young sons it's okay to grab me or say things simply because I'm foreign. It's disgusting.

And yet, older Egyptian women claim that Egypt wasn't always like this (around the 70s and 80s), it's progressively gotten worse. The law that was established prior to Mubarak's ousting didn't matter - even the police harassed. It doesn't matter if you're foreign, veiled or niqab: everyone is harassed, but I was more so astounded by the attitudes and sentiments I've heard from many Egyptian women. So that's where I think the first area to tackle is: letting women know that it is NOT okay to do this. Hoping that one day they instill this in their sons and society.

So I encourage ALL of you, male AND female who have lived and/or are currently living in Egypt, to click on the link and take the survey to help the group reach their 1,000 responses.