Sunday, May 29, 2005
A friend and I went to a nice Cairo pub last Thursday. We sat at the bar and enjoyed 2 bottles of Egypt’s special Stella beer. We talked about work, life, and then ventured into politics. My friend is rich, very patriotic, and he wants an end to the Mubarak regime. He believes that even though Mubarak is a man of peace and wise, his time in power should have ended long time ago.
We started talking about the recent developments in Egypt and he expressed his uttermost admiration for the Kifaya movement. I shared with him that I too admire the courage of Kifaya, however, I believe Egypt is not ready at all for full fledged free elections this year and I am not the kind of person who equates Mubarak with Saddam or the Taliban. I told him my opinion about the current weakness of progressives/secularists and the power of the political Islamists, and how I believe that more time is needed until Egypt can have another political force that can counter the islamists. In addition, I told him that I believe that we can witness the rise of a progressive/secular political force within the coming 5 years, and if I felt that this force will never really compete with the islamists then I’ll know it’ll be time for me to say goodbye to my native land.
“We should respect the will of the people even if they chose a religious system” he said.
“Well, if that happened then I guess we’ll have to say goodbye to this nice pub and to these nice green bottles of beer” I said.
“Is that all what you care about?! Beer! I am willing to sacrifice that in order to live in a country free of dictatorship, corruption, humiliation, etc” he immediately shot back.
I took a sip and spoke smoothly “OK, let us imagine that we had a free election next September, what would the future headlines of Egypt’s newspapers be like?”
“I don’t know” he answered.
“OK, let me tell you dear”.
Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties become powerful after Egypt’s landmark elections. Condi Rice admits that she is not afraid, Bush admits he won’t hide under his Abraham Lincoln’s bed.
Sheikh Yousef Qaradawi returns to Egypt, become country’s official cleric.
Parliament bans alcohol sales for Egyptians. Foreigners can drink alcohol because they are tourists and Egypt will starve if tourists stopped coming.
All pubs in Egypt are closed. Only 5 stars hotels are allowed to serve alcohol (to foreigners only)
Movie actresses wearing tight clothes are banned. Belly dancers are banned, Arab tourism is down.
Egyptian pop star Ruby immigrates to Lebanon.
Egyptian artists cite immense restrictions on their work.
Egyptian parliament forms a committee that oversees the publishing of books and the importation of foreign magazines in order to protect the Egyptian people from vice and other western Zionist Neocon corrupting influences.
Young man stabs a policeman after he asked him to stop holding the hands of a girl.
Books by Islamic thinker and reformer Gamal al-Banna are confiscated from the market.
Secular author Sayed el-Qimni arrested after defaming Islam.
Mixed schools banned in Egypt.
“OK, OK, I get your point. Well, if they did that we can vote them out” my friend said.
“And do you guarantee that there will be a chance to vote them out? Plus, what guarantees you that the majority of Egyptian people who are getting religion won’t mind these types of rules?” I asked.
“And what guarantees you that progressives/secularists will get more powerful in the coming 5 years and that they will garner a base in Egypt?” He asked me.
“You are right. I cannot guarantee this. This is why I am looking into all options including leaving the country” I said.
“OK cheers to Hosni” he said raising his mug.