Thank you Mr. Obama

All through the past month, Egyptians and Egypt have kept one of their more important attributes; a sense of humor. And while Egyptian comics can make fun of just about anything as ‘The man Behind Omar Suleiman’ would attest, there is no denying the Egyptian State Media gave them plenty of ammunition. In between the Mehwar’s Shaimaa, Said and Hanaa (or Om Said as a friend likes to call her) or the multiple and classic comments of the Nile TV reporters about “a small group of infiltrated people are moving the masses”, ‘the number of protesters do not exceed thousands”, “the protesters are being affected by foreign entities ranging between Israel, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hizb Allah, and the Egyptian Islamist Brotherhood” and the extremely funny and sad “the protesters are speaking in strange dialects and holding sophisticated gadgetry that has no keys and a bitten apple on the back.”

So while the Egyptian Media has been a help in uplifting the crowds anxiety levels they have been totally unreliable in terms of news coverage and so we turn to Arab and Western News Coverage of the events in the Middle East. And I have to say I generally felt that it was an extensive and informative coverage. I could agree and relate with most of the points except for one thing; the Western Media’s slamming of President Obama’s reaction and official stand regarding the Egyptian crisis.

I can understand the emotional reasoning behind some of the Egyptians who were asking for a stronger stand against Mubarak’s government and tyranny but logistically speaking the US will and should have its personal interests first in line. And I personally believe that while Obama’s message was hesitant and guarded from the start, it was obvious he was calling for Mubarak to step down. What was really strange was the Republicans reaction to Obama’s caution, specifically John McCain, Marc Theissen and Dimtri Simes’s personal opinion.

We’re very sorry gentlemen to tell you, that as an Egyptian, I generally don’t care what the Americans think of us. I am not looking for you to come in with your guns blazing to ‘liberate us’ and believe me your opinion, action or lack-of did not matter a pig’s ass in determining the outcome of our revolution. Yes it would have been nice if you’d taken a stronger stance in the past years against the dictatorship of your allies, but then again, this is our fight. We need to take responsibility for our country and our welfare and we definitely do not need another George W. Bush Junior thinking he needs to go in and save the heathens from themselves. So once again with feeling; thank you Mr. President for taking a very wise and objective stand regarding the political turnout of our country.

For a very logical and unbiased opinion, check out the Economists’ February 17 article on “How Obama Handled Egypt”.

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Moving Forward

The past three weeks have been an emotional roller coaster of pride, worry, anxiety, optimism, more worry, skepticism, anger and hope. And while I know every single person has gone through the same emotions but in varying degrees, my sense of worry and pessimism has been a constant current through all the other emotions.

I have been pro-demonstrations, pro-Tahrir, since the start. I totally agree with the demands and the methods but nonetheless I am worried about the outcome. I fear one big variable, the Egyptian people. Yes, we have been living under an oppressive and dictatorship regime. Yes, we have been humiliated, put down, tortured and forced silent. But this equation has two sides, the regime and us. We have allowed this to happen to us for 30 years, and while not willingly, we have let it go on and 30 years changes almost everybody. So while the movement toppled the top level of the regime, who is going to change an entry level ministry employee who will not finish your paperwork unless you bribe him? And don’t tell me the peoples’ spirit has changed because everything with education and substance, even spirit, will die down.

The Egyptians are great at celebrating and documenting victories, yet we have a huge problem with long term planning. We always look at ‘what we did’ not ‘what we need to do’ and that is the cause of my biggest worry. Look at how up till now we are leaving off the fortunes and grandness of the Pharaonic Empire 5000 years ago, or the Salah Al Deen victory, or even the October 6 victory. I can’t deny that there are people who are thinking long-term sustainable projects and education for the future but I feel that they are too few, too far in between.

On the brighter side, the high school students in the school I work in did a much better job at thinking forward than the school staff. Let me share below part of their reflections on the happenings of the past month:

“We need more projects to help poor people and educate them, especially political education. If they don’t understand politics they will still vote for the first person who gives them 2kilos of meat.”

“We have to be creative in our methods of helping Egypt. We need to look for new and unique ways. Instead of cleaning the same street 5 times, how about providing garbage cans for people to throw trash in.”

“The revolution is not about going to Tahrir to ask for things to change. Change comes from within and each person needs to prepare for it by changing his/her self. By changing what I do wrong, I can help change all that’s wrong in this country.”

“We need to be sustainable and find long-term projects. The spirit is great for now but we need to find a way to carry it forward into the future.”

“Now is not the time to point fingers and say who is pro and who is anti. It is the time for us to show mercy. Skepticism is not the way to move forward. People need to show patience and trust regarding their needs.”

“How does corruption start? Corruption happens out of lack of education. And education is the key to rebuilding our country. The economy will come afterwards and poverty will solve itself but education starts first.”

“You must understand that you are a part of Egypt and you will make a difference through your small contribution. Each person has to believe in his/her self and believe that they can make a difference with just an idea. If we listen to each other we can learn.”

It’s amazing how not a single one of them talked about how great the revolution is and how wonderful the people are, although I’m pretty sure they all thought that. But they all talked about one thing; the future and moving forward. And I think that is something we all need to do now.