Crossing the Line…

20121214-151541.jpgI was reading the news today and came across this article. A Quebec filmmaker is being charged with corrupting morals, and first reading I thought it was a joke. But then I realised it was serious.

And then the shock settled in. After all, I come from a society that will prosecute you and charge you with blasphemy, treason and disturbing the peace for even thinking of questioning the ruling party and society. If the country is saying red, bet your sweet ass that you could end up in prison for saying blue.

I lived in extreme fear throughout the revolution that if any of the old ruling party members came to power, my husband would end up in some political person somewhere for tweeting his opinions. And I was not being paranoid or obsessive. It was a very big possibility. Heck, I can actually count onto hands people and friends I know who were placed in political prisons or taken in for ‘questioning’.

Which was one of the biggest reasons I was so happy that I was moving back to Canada. Here I have the freedom to be who I am or what I am without fear of being called out. In fact the acceptance of me, my opinions and my faith here is much more than anything I’ve seen back in Cairo. I actually blew up at my MIL once and told her

“If the West are as racist as you are towards Middle Easterners and Muslims, then they have every right to discriminate against us.” As you can imagine, that didn’t go to well.

Anyway back to home and the special effects filmmaker Remy Couture that is being charged with ‘corrupting morals through the distribution, possession and production of obscene materials…’ the jury has to decide whether his work is …obscene and dangerous enough to actually incite people to act out what they see…’.

What the fuck!

Since when do we care that the stuff we see could persuade us to act it out in real life. In that case why do we have all these action and horror movies? Where is the prosecuting Crown with Grand Theft Auto and Saw? Heck, why are we even watching Dexter? Aren’t we worried that the people who love that show so much will be incited into becoming serial killers of their own?

What can I say? I guess tyranny and oppression of freedom of speech is the same anywhere in the world. Whether you’re prosecuting an awful and obscene comedy movie or a gruesome and obscene horror movie.

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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.