Thursday, July 4, 2013

Letters from Egypt: Egypt Celebrates Its Own 4th of July

Some of you messaged me yesterday asking where the updates were. To be honest, I fell asleep – well, until my mother called me in a panic asking if I needed to come home. And then I went back to sleep.

So it’s the 4th of July and as cheesy as this may sound, it’s one of my most favorite holidays. While Americans across the globe celebrate our Independence Day, Egyptians are throwing their own celebration. Speaking to my mother last night, she told me how she would be so frightened to live through this. I told her that the unknown is always frightening. Many of you watch the TV and see the crowds, read the stories of sexual harassment and other things; however, life goes on as usual despite the change in leadership. I’m still in my office and I still have plans to meet friends to celebrate the 4th.

I will say that when you go through this process or continuous instability, sometimes you don’t realize the stress you take on. I’m tired. I just want to keep my head down, somehow find the motivation to do my work and stop the political conversations every single time we all go out. I used to dream of being where the action was, but the overall toll it takes is something many don’t recognize. Two and a half years of this is just complete insanity if you continue to get bogged down in it. And on this 4th of July, I’m ever more so thankful of being from a country that doesn’t face this and I hope that it never does – despite whatever differing political beliefs anyone may have. 

When you go through things day in and day out, it becomes second nature to you. Then you hit a breaking point which can show in the smallest things. Sure this time we were all prepared, unlike in 2011. We all prepared for the worst. There has been such a tense feeling among everyone. And then there was a sigh of relief last night.

Parties erupted throughout the streets and I personally fell [back] asleep to the sound of fireworks and other popping devices. It’s hard for me to be excited about the events yesterday because I was so entwined in the original revolution. People will say that I’m just negative when I should be happy, but I remember the parties in the streets on February 11 when Mubarak resigned and look what happened after… And yet I still have to put on a face for my friends and act as though this is a positive occurrence. But is it? Or instead will there be new demonstrations in just a few months? Will the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members later take to more drastic actions? After all, the MB was the beginning of the most dangerous Islamist terrorist groups such as Algeria’s AQIM and Al Qaeda.

Two things are for certain: Morsi is out and Egyptians hate the word “coup” being used to describe the change in power. I think it should be noted that while negative connotations usually join coups, Egypt’s situation does not mimic the standard. And some ask why it wasn’t considered as such during 2011. That is because Mubarak resigned. Morsi refused to relinquish power with the military forcibly taking control.

And now the round-up of key MB figureheads is taking place. Someone on my Facebook said, “Now that is REAL democracy.” Really? Just because people take to the streets? Is it real democracy when Morsi, with debatable transparency issues, was elected? Is it real democracy when the military seized control over certain news stations? Certain mosques became very political and as I currently listen to the midday prayer, I wonder what the MB-aligned mosques are now going to preach on Fridays. The fact of the matter is, Egypt is a long way off from democracy so people need not fool themselves. It all goes back to the lack of understanding the definition of democracy, and now you can go ahead and count that new versions of the term will be implemented among many.

I’m not saying that certain MB members don’t deserve to be arrested especially since many of them have already been convicted of terrorist acts. I’m not saying that I support Morsi, but part of me feels sorry for him. Everyone knows that he was only the face of the campaign and more like a puppet to other “smarter” MBs. The group has some incredibly intelligent members, many of whom have been educated in the West. I mean, it must really hurt to know your own group set you up for failure. Perhaps this is when you should question your loyalty after knowing that their support was falsified. However, mesh mush kelty (not my problem).

The other night, I met up with friends – many of whom were from New Zealand and a couple of Egyptians (before the men took off to join others in the streets). It was such an interesting conversation. We all agreed that we don’t want to be those people who discuss how great Egypt was “back in the day”. I personally want friends that come and visit me to see the amazing things that Egypt has to offer and it’s scary to think that might all be in the past.

Despite everything, I obviously hope for the best for Egypt. I have lived here five years come July 10 (crazy to think it's been that long). While I may have many frustrations, I wouldn’t have stayed so long if I didn’t like it. This country will always be a big part of me no matter if/when I depart. So here's to my very own 4th of July and wishing the best for my second home, Egypt.


  1. Glad to hear you're ...well? Thinking about you from time to time in all the news.

    1. Thanks so much, Jada. It's good to hear from you. I'm trying to prepare a blog for tomorrow. I hope you're doing well these days, unsure if you're still around or not. Please keep in touch and let me know what's new.