With some nostalgia and a feeling of empathy, I see some of the familiar places in Alexandria and Cairo and Ahmad al-Badawi’s Tanta on the TV screen and recall the kind of almost Police State security apparatus that was Egypt already twenty years ago after ten years of Mubarak.
I’m walking down Cleopatra Avenue in Alexandria and I notice an Egyptian man walking close to me on my right and another on my left and we are walking side by side, same pace and you would think that we were some kind of trinity moving down the street. I stop and they stop, so I ask them , in Arabic, “ What do you want?”
They show me their cards and tell me, “We are the Police and you are going to accompany us to the Police Station.”
At the station they want to see my passport. “Ah, Swedish?” and they tell me that I’m free to go.
That was some 20 years ago, not long after Saddam took Kuwait. At least a Swedish passport did not get you into terrible trouble.
Later that day I kept the company of an Egyptian psychiatrist, something of a sadist ( but then you have to adjust to figurative language and the sort of hyperbole of hatred or disgust that can be applied to the enemy.) In discussing Israel and the two wars that had devastated Egypt’s economy, he told me quite plainly, “I would like to eat Yitzhak Shamir’s liver!”
In 1991, young people could not afford to get married, because they could not even afford to buy or rent a modest apartment.
In 1991 a newly trained medical doctor on intern-ship got an allowance of the equivalent of three hundred Swedish crowns per month.
Since then, more of a middle class has been created – and of course it is the Middle Class that would not be in a hurry to see their new found Western life styles and the Western freedoms that they aspire to, clamped down by people like the Muslim Brotherhood wanting to create an Islamic State in Egypt. The middle class especially, wants liberalisation, more reform, personal freedom, nightclubs, discos, gambling casinos, more interest banking , more burlesque theater than the pieces I saw in Alexandria ,and of course the more pretentious ones have pretensions to Jean-Paul Sartre instead of Jean-Paul Belmondo.The more disadvantaged want more justice and food, good health and better shelter and believe that this can only come about with more Islam.
On my first visit to the American University in Cairo, I could not believe my eyes. Many of the female students were dressed up as if they were going to a party in Manhattan. I was the only one dressed in a gallabiya. At noon I asked a young lady where do the Muslims do their mid-day prayer and she looked at me with such anger and contempt written on her face ( she must have thought that I was a Murid from the Sudan ) and spoke to me with such venom! Shouted at me with a put on American accent “ This is not a mosque!!! You want to pray you go over there !!!!! “– and pointed to the exit door….
“And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.”
Fast forwarding a little, this is a good place to start .
Like an admiral on the ship of state, looking out to sea through his glasses our Foreign Minister Carl Bildt sees “a demographic tsunami to the south of the Mediterranean “
By definition, too much is too much and enough is enough. In the history books, Tunisia will be seen as the catalyst that lit the fuse to the keg of gunpowder waiting to be set on fire the fire that is about to spread throughout the Middle East : in frustration and despair a young man set himself on fire, the whole country arose as one country and in less than two weeks their president had boarded a plane to seek refuge in the monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of al-Islam.
In some ways the on-going revolt in Egypt is somewhat reminiscent of the children of Israel’s exodus from that land – to the Holy Land and up till today,everybody knows what Moses said to the Pharaoh :“Thus saith HaShem the God of Israel : Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness.”
In today’s Egypt, it looks like in the absence of more spectacular miracles (the seven plagues and so forth) the Egyptians are destined to remain there (in Egypt) to sort things out with their Pharaoh and they ( the suffering masses) don’t want to go anywhere else since Egypt is their land – albeit it is not “ The Promised Land” ; so they say that a change of government or any other cosmetic changes just won’t do the trick: it’s the Pharaoh himself that they say must go. Get lost .
In today’s Egypt, which is the burial place of the last Shah of Iran, the crowds have caught fire and the throne of the Pharaoh is being shaken and in a few days time the army will have taken over completely in the name of the people of Egypt – all this, prior to the elections that were scheduled to take place in June.
No smoke without fire: Rumour confirms the results of analysis: Mahmud Abbas /Abu Mazen and the present day Palestinian authorities are next in line for a demise, as his people now inspired by Wikileaks arise against their erstwhile leaders who they now see as actually being in bed with Israel and therefore as traitors to their cause.
From afar Herr Bildt looks into the future and just as the Prophet of Islam, salallahu alaihi wa salaam originally saw himself as “a warn-er “ so too these prophetic words are attributed to our Minster of International Affairs:
“These are extremely young societies, demanding concerning the future, and their demands for jobs, for prospects for the future cannot be met by systems that are seen as closed, be that in economic or be that in political terms.
“This is process that lies ahead of all of the countries in the region, one way or another. They’re very different but the demographic tsunami is something that is common to all of them,” he warned. “
This warning is not accompanied by any announcement of a change in or re-adjustment of Swedish policy towards the Tsunami lands of North Africa and environs. Understandably, compared to the main power-broker the United States of America, Sweden is a medium sized player in that area and will probably have to take the cue from what Uncle Sam says and does.
Uncle Sam is very very concerned, to say the least, because thus far, after Israel, Egypt has been his very best friend in the area – and heaven forbid that the ground should begin to rumble and shake or the earth to quake under King Abdullah’s throne in Jordan.
One thing at a time : here are some very sober considerations: The Revolt in Egypt and US policy
Could it be an exaggeration that Radical Islam will spread like a wildfire throughout the Middle East ?
I’ve watched a lot of al-Jazeera, CNN, BBC, and SKY News, much of the day , and everybody ( some drooling at the mouth – with excitement ) have so much to say. There’s little, precious little being said about the Palestinians, but in view of the fact that HAMAS is the Muslim Brotherhood’s younger brother and the Muslim Brotherhood is about to gain a little more say-so in Egypt, – 34 Muslim Brotherhood political prisoners have already been released these past 24 hours (and their little influence could become a little bit more after the June elections – if such elections will be held in June) we must all understand that they (Hamas) more than Mahmud Abbas are rejoicing, and that Israel is keeping an eye on the security situation as things unravel in Egypt.