Sunday, October 6, 2013

Letters from Egypt: Different Names, All the Same

Al Sisi/Morsi

The 6th of October is the time when Egypt showed those Jews, or so that’s the way they tell it. I get it. No one wants to admit they didn’t win. I certainly dislike admitting the US outcome in 1812, but a fact is a fact (Canadians, it is your only comeback - use it wisely).

So today is a holiday in Egypt, known as the Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War and/or 1973 Arab–Israeli War. It’s when Egypt and Syria coordinated attacks on Atonement Day with Egypt pushing out Israeli forces from the Sinai. They fail to discuss in Egyptian history how Israel came back, pushed the Syrians far back from pre-war advancements and at the same time also almost descended upon Cairo only to have the Camp David Peace Accord brokered – but who wants to discuss that? Definitely not the Egyptians. It's another one of those conversations that you need to avoid if you want to maintain friendships with your Egyptian pals.

So moving on – I found this article from one of my favorite publications, The New Yorker, from October 6, 2011. Reading Egypt: Remembering the 6th of October it sounded all too familiar except with a few key names changed. Wendell Steavenson said in the article, “Mubarak built a vast rotunda memorial to commemorate the 6th of October; it was empty of visitors when I visited it a few months ago.” Yep – same.

Instead of this: “Last night, I was out walking amid evening promenaders and Coptic Christians protesting yet another church burning and beating by the military police,” exchange Coptic Christians to pro-Morsi demonstrators.

“This October 6th, Egyptians were treated to a rare address by Field Marshal Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who took over executive power from Mubarak in February, and who is now the de facto leader of Egypt.” We’re going to go ahead and change Tantawi to Al Sisi, Mubarak to Morsi and February 2011 to June 2013. So it should read like this:

This October 6th, Egyptians were treated to a warning to all pro-Morsi supporters by General Al Sisi, who took over executive power from Mohamed Morsi in June, and who is now the de facto leader of Egypt.

“A handover to civilian rule still seems some way off” and yes, we’ll just keep that as is two years later.

In all seriousness though, thankfully Egypt has released the two Canadians that were jailed without charges in mid-August.

For those of you expats that feel as though you are invincible, let this serve as a warning: You, yes you – American, British, French, etc. – can be detained for up to 15 days by Egyptian authorities without being charged. Even more discerning is that Egypt can renew that 15-day non-charge holding another 15 days and so on and so forth.

I’m glad John Greyson and Tarek Loubani will soon be reunited with their families and friends. Photo source: CTV News

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