25 April 2011

On the ground in Egypt

Ever since Hosni Mubarek stepped down as President of Egypt, there have been very few journalistic reports of the present situation in Egypt as the people prepare for their upcoming election.
A friend of mine in Effingham has a friend presenly on the ground in Egypt.  An Egyptian himself, he sent the following greetings from Cairo, with my emphases:
It is very remarkable what has happened in Egypt in the last 4 months. At the beginning there was a lot of excitement about the revolution and its unlimited potential. Now this is the day after and things are turning fast into the unknown. Simply put no one knows what will happen in the next few months.  
Now there is a state of chaos in the country. There is no effective government. There is no law and no police force. That has allowed the criminals to roam the city and commit crimes with impunity. There are many stories of people stopping motorists and forcing them to sign a sell contract to sell their cars by force for free to those criminals. Even some people started building illegal buildings with no permits since no one is watching. 
But the most significant thing is the emergence of a new group called “Salafeyeen” who aspire to return Egypt to the early days of Islam. I had never heard of them before. They are very radical and they are not bashful to broadcast their manifesto which is essentially against any progress, against women and against Christians. By comparison the Muslim brotherhood is like the Boy Scout. The Salafeyeen have been attacking mainstream Muslim mosques and taking them over. They consider the Muslim brotherhood not Muslim enough. They want to impose a very strict Sharia law. They also hint that the revolutions in other Arab countries will lead to a new Caliphate of pure Islam in the Middle East 
Every day new discoveries are revealed of the huge amount of money amassed by Mubarak and his cronies. It is unreal in a poor country. Billions of dollars and Sterling pounds have been stolen by almost every cabinet member in the last 20 some years. It is very frightening to think that the corruption did not leave anyone at the top clean.    
I am still hopeful. In the middle of this uncertainty and anxiety there is a silver lining. The youth who started the revolution still has the passion and the desire to change their country. They have been silent recently. Their voices have been smothered by the louder religious groups. I still believe that they will not sit idle as their beloved country is being taken away by the vultures. But in several discussions with a large group of Egyptians it seems I am the only one who is optimistic. 
The Easter service here was muted and low profile. The churches were not as full as they usually are.. People are still afraid of another explosion. I must admit that during church servicess I expected some explosion somewhere. It did not happen and that was a good start. 
I am sure this ambiguous situation represents a nightmare for the Obama administration. They don’t know what to do now except wait and see how the parliamentarian and presidential elections will turn out. This in large will determine the direction of the country. Will Egypt be another Iran or another Turkey we don’t really know? Let us hope. 
As far as personal safety we feel safe. I am not worried about that. I am more worried about the direction of this country which 4 months ago was on cloud 9 after the revolution. We need that feeling back. The feeling of a country coming out of darkness into the light. Let us hope that Light will prevail.


  1. Did you see the NPR piece I posted on your Facebook wall shortly before the Holy Weekend?