Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tahrir: The Seed And The Utopia

Right after the election results in my own Heliopolis district were announced, I sarcastically wrote about the Republic of Heliopolis. This post, which turned out to be one of the most popular in my 8 years of blogging, was purely tongue in cheek and aimed at triggering a laugh amid the horror the elections results caused to many.

Actually, I do not want to live in the Republic of Heliopolis. I want to live in the Republic of Tahrir.

Tahrir has become a utopia to many of us. A dream. A place that enabled us, Egyptians, to overcome many of our ills. I sometimes believe  there is something supernatural in Tahrir; some kind of energy that transforms whomever chooses to be part of it.

They say we Egyptians are lazy. Tahrir is a beehive. During sit-ins, everyone has a thing to do; from the elderly woman who prepares sandwiches to the young men who guard the gates.

It’s believed we are not creative. Tahrir is a bastion of creativity. Our creativity was articulated in the numerous political slogans, banners, graffiti and the protective gear we invented to protect our heads from rocks and our lungs from tear gas. You will see the poet, the musician, the political analyst, the writer, the blogger, the photographer. Want to see how creative we are?  Take a stroll down Mohamed Mahmoud street and look at its walls. Look at its walls before they remove what our artists painted there. Because our paintings make them look in the mirror and see their ugly faces.

It’s believed Egyptians are intolerant. Not a month passes without a sectarian crisis somewhere. Not in Tahrir though. In the square, the Muslim Brotherhood doctor treats patients inside a church. Christians form a protective circle around praying Muslims. In fact, Tahrir might be the only place Christians prayed in outside their churches. In Tahrir, you find Christians whom you never thought would be politically active. You would find Mina Danial.

It’s believed sexual harassment is rampant on Egypt’s streets. Again, not in Tahrir. The square is the only place where sexual harassment is an exception and not the norm.

They say the privileged don’t care about the poor in Egypt. In Tahrir, you will see the rich man sleeping in the same tent with the unprivileged man. You will see street kids roaming around protesters feeling a sense of security they wouldn’t feel if they were left at the mercy of Cairo’s streets. You will see Tahrir School where poor and street kids learn to read and draw. You will see a female protester teaching a street kid to shoot pictures with her Canon.

It’s believed we became radical religiously. We forsook our moderate and intelligent religion and replaced it with a rigid ugly form of religiosity we imported from the oil fiefdoms. In Tahrir, you find Sheikh Emad Effat.

As mentioned above, I tend to look at Tahrir as a mental state. As a seed that was planted in this country. And just like any seed, it is destined to grow. This is the reason why they’re doing everything to choke it. Because if Tahrir came out of Tahrir, this country will change forever and threaten whatever interests they’re trying to protect.

  Posted by BP at 4:07 pm Comments (28)
Friday, December 9, 2011

Insights into Egypt’s election results

First round of the elections is over and almost everyone around me is paranoid about the results. Personally, I was not surprised at the Muslim Brotherhood results. My biggest shock was the Salafi Noor party. I never expected they would garner a quarter of the vote. Below I have answered a few questions you might have in your mind.

Why did the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party fare so well?

The MB is an 80 years old political organization. They were around since King Fouad! They are very experienced in Egyptian politics and entrenched in our society.

For so many years they have been the only viable alternative to the Mubarak regime simply because he wanted them to be so. Yes the Brotherhood were often oppressed by his security apparatus, but they were given enough room to survive and play that role. The MB were Mubarak’s scarecrow to whomever asked him for democracy. In 2005, when the Bush administration pressured Mubarak on democracy, he opened a door slit during the parliament election back then. 88 MB candidates won. The US got scared and backed off. So when you look at these elections and notice that the only alternative to the MB was a 4 months old hastily formed coalition of liberal parties, you only have Hosni Mubarak to blame.

The MB’s vast financial resources in another reason for their substantial victory. Their money comes from local donors and foreign countries that want a foot in Egypt, namely Qatar. For the past 15 years, this tiny rich country in the Gulf  have always wanted to play a regional role that far exceeds its size. It has done so by supporting the strongest opposition to the Arab dictators: the Islamists. Qatari funded Al Jazeera Arabic is the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sheikh Qaradawi, MB’s most prominent cleric, was hosted by Qatar’s Emir and owns a lavish palace in Doha. Ironically, his palace is not very far from the US airbase used to attack Iraq. But the airbase is for Qatar’s global role. After 911, Qatar gave Al Jazeera to Bin Laden and El Adid airbase to the US.

How did the Salafis do so well?

That was a shock. In fact, it really hurts to see these fascists benefit so much from a revolution they deemed as religiously forbidden.

Again, vast finances from the Gulf (according to government watchdog) and the huge network of mosques that fell under their control enabled the Salafis to challenge the MB’s monopoly over the Islamist agenda. We still have to see how the MB will react to the Salafis in parliament. Will they maintain their “moderate stand” they’re so keen to reflect on Egypt’s middle class and the outside world, or will the number of Salafi seats challenge them into adopting a more radical agenda.

What should happen now?

The victory of the Islamists is not the end of the world. In fact, I believe we have to pass through a period of MB domination till we, liberals and leftists, get our act together. Personally, I am not afraid of another Iran. They might change a few laws that will make us a bit uncomfortable as I’ve pointed out in this previous post, but a religious state in Egypt a la Iran and Saudi is not possible. After Jan 25, Egypt will not be ruled by another dictator, being it military or religious. The third force in the Egyptian equation will always be there: Tahrir square.

Now, what should happen? There are two levels.

Political level: Liberal and leftist parties should unite as much as possible. I am dreaming of ONE liberal Egyptian oriented party and ONE leftist party. The current civilian force is so fragmented and full of its own ego. They should swollow their ego and leave the comfort of TV talk shows and start reaching out to the masses. And by masses I mean the folks in Delta and Upper Egypt.

We have neglected the poor for so long. We left them to rot in their own slums. We left them to the mercy of successive government we knew very well were ineffective. Now the poor of Egypt have spoken and they have given their voices to the only people whom they found caring about their needs.

I truly believe a big reason behind MB’s sole dominion over the elections is the lack of a viable convincing alternative to the majority of Egyptians.

Religious Level: After the results I tweeted this: the MB victory shows that we have a lot of work to do. The Salafis victory shows that Al Azhar has a lot of work to do.

Radicals have hijacked Islam for the past 40 years. There are two ways to turn back the tide. First, an independent credible and well financed Al Azhar that should stand up and reclaim its position as the world’s top authority on Sunni Islam. Second, Americans stop driving SUVs.

  Posted by BP at 2:09 pm Comments (11)
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Heliopolis-Nasr City Federation

Disclaimer: This post is tongue in cheek. It should not be taken seriously.

Now since Nasr City came out MB/Salafi free, there is a possibility of a federation between Heliopolis and Nasr City. As a resident of the Republic of Heliopolis, I welcome such an idea but we Heliopolisians should be crystal clear regarding the terms of this federation agreement.

After yesterday’s results, Nasr City residents will surely boast about their achievement. They were once deemed a Brotherhood stronghold, but they shocked us all by electing two non-MB/Salafi members of parliament. Not only that, NC is the only district that elected two candidates in their 30s!

 

While we should congratulate NCians for their achievement (the poor fellows had to withstand a big scary poster of Salafi Mohamed Yosri on Nasr Street), yet we residents of ROH need to remind them that we are much older in liberalism. In addition, we are far more authentic and chic. Heliopolis is over 100 years old while Gamal Abdel Nasser built NC after the 1952 military coup. While Heliopolis always housed the crème de la crème, Nasr City welcomed the Egyptians who came back from the Gulf and brought to us the radical religious thought known as “Wahabism”.  Therefore, before we even sit on the round table and negotiate plans for a federation, we should make it very clear that we do make a distinction between the two districts.

In light of the above facts, we have to be prepared before we sit together and decide on the future of our districts. I have presented below the hot potatoes issues that might arise during negotiations and my own way forward with each.

Who will own City Stars?


City Stars is ours! It is in the jurisdiction of Nozha whether NCians like it or not. In fact, only NCians say that City Stars belongs to them. Ask anyone in Zamalek or Maadi where the grand mall is and he/she will tell you it is in Heliopolis. Even City Stars itself boasts of being in Heliopolis.

City Stars is a huge revenue generator besides it being a symbol of elegance and extravagant shopping. City Stars is a red line.

Nevertheless, if NCians turned out to be very stubborn on that issue, we can concede a little. We can give them the old extension in exchange for 2 of their popular fish restaurants: El Borg and Gandofli. This exchange does have a strategic interest for us, the residents of ROH. We are suffering from a considerable decline in population because of mass emigration especially from our Christians. The fish restaurants will increase the birth rate in ROH.

Entry policy for NCians living in 7th Settlement, 10th Settlement and El Sewesry

OK. We do have our low-income population in Nozha, Sherouk and Badr, and we take care of them. NCians living in the poor neighborhoods of 7th Settlement, 10th Settlement and El Sewesry were totally forgotten by the more affluent NCians. And the result? These areas overwhelmingly voted for the MB and Salafis. Now, if we removed the visa requirement from NCians who want to enter Heliopolis, we can be flooded with illegal immigrants from these areas.

Since we cannot discriminate according to level of income, we should maintain our visa requirement for NCians. All NCians should be required to obtain a visa before entering ROH, but they can obtain it at the borders (we can have a visa office in City Stars for example)

Abu Ramy for Deals

Abu Ramy is just too good. I personally drive all the way from Heliopolis to NC just to munch on Abu Ramy’s delicious soko2, Kebda and Sakalans. We want Abu Ramy! It is the upper class version of Zizo Natana. We are tired of Abu Haydar, Abu Amaar and 3amo Hosni.

Since we have far more alcohol serving outlets than NC, we can exchange Deals pub with Abu Ramy. We already have L’Aburgine and as I mentioned in my previous post, President Hamzawy promised us a Tamarai and La Bodega. Therefore, we can sacrifice Deals for Abu Ramy.

C28 Has to Go


NC cannot enter into a federation with ROH and retain C28, the ugly military court in 10th Settlement. Not many Kanaba Party (apolitical couch party) members in Heliopolis would agree with me, but I am totally against trying civilians in military courts. Therefore, if NC wants to be united with Heliopolis, they have to get rid of C28.

 

  Posted by BP at 1:55 pm Comments (40)
Friday, December 2, 2011

Welcome to The Republic of Heliopolis

Disclaimer: This post is tongue in cheek. It should not be taken seriously. I do not condone any of what I humorously written below.

After the results of the first round of the parliamentary elections, there were several calls to declare the independence of the Heliopolis district from the rest of Egypt. Hey, we’re the only district where a liberal beat a Muslim Brotherhood by a landslide. We’re the only district that voted for a candidate with long hair whose girlfriend is a movie star. People in Montazah, Alexandria, voted for a guy who called democracy haram or forbidden.  The prick then used the democratic process in order to get a parliament seat!

So we can presume that it is quiet understandable why we want to be separated from Egypt. Why we want nothing to do with the rest of our previous country.

To make things simplier, I decided to propose how our new country will look like. So ladies and gentlement, welcome to The Republic of Heliopolis.

Borders:


Helio

We decided to have the current boundaries of our electoral district as our borders.  We don’t mind  including Badr and Sherouk. Many of us either work or live there. Besides, Heliopolis club has a branch in Sherouk.

We’re going to build a Berlin style wall around Heliopolis. Anyone who tries to cross over will be shot on the spot. If you’re not a resident of ROH, you will need a visa. Residents of Zamalek, Maadi (the posh part of Maadi), Katamiyah and Garden City are exempted. Residents of Nasr City are only allowed to go to City Stars without a visa. Yes, we consider City Stars as part of Nozha and not Nasr City!

President:


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We decided to elect our current member of parliament as president. President Hamzawy lives in the Heliopolis Palace, the palace in front of Heliopolis club. Mubarak’s house in Orouba will be turned into museum.

Economy:

We have an open market economy with social justice. We have a small population of low income people living in Nozha and Sherouk.

Politics:

We want nothing to do with our neighbor Egypt. Let Egypt elect whom it elects, but Egypt has to leave us alone.

People:

Heliopolisians are diverse people. We have Muslims, Coptic Orthodox Christians, Coptic Catholic Christians, Coptic Evangelicals, Armenians, Greek Orthodox and Catholic, Syrian Orthodox and Catholic. And we also have a Jewish synagogue in Korba. It’s closed now but we welcome back any Heliopolis Jew who wants to return back to his homeland ROH and open the synagogue. A Jewish elderly house is adjacent to the synagogue. It was also shut down after the last resident of the house died or left Egypt years ago.

Nightlife and Entertainment:

ganz-203x300

Meet Mr. Ahmed El Ganzoury, our minister of culture. Mr. Ganzoury, better known as Ganz, was Egypt’s top party organizer. He later renounced his Egyptian citizenship and decided to become a ROH resident. He is the only cabinet member who does not change. Who wants to change Ganz!

In spite of the presence of Ganz in our cabinet, we still have a huge problem concerning night outings. Before our independence we used to hang out in mostly Zamalek  and Maadi.  However,  President Hamzawy promised that we will soon have our own La Bodega and Tamarai, besides the newly opened L’Aubergine of course. So very soon we will kiss our dear small Deals pub goodbye.

How to become a resident:

To become a resident of ROH, you have to be an open minded person who does not mind the diversity of our country. You will have to keep religion to yourself and not force it on other fellow countrymen. You also have to strictly abide by the laws and regulations in ROH. Some of our laws can be pretty tough though. For example, if you’re caught harassing a female on the street, you get your testicles ripped apart by a 27 days starved doberman.

  Posted by BP at 11:11 am Comments (21)