Sunday, June 19, 2005
No Palestine, No America
I’m back from Alexandria. Later, I’ll post a number of pics that I took there. I just want to tell you about a very interesting conversation I had with 2 shopkeepers.
I’m a bookworm. I tend to enter every bookstore I see and wonder around until I buy something. Well, I went inside a relatively small bookstore on a main road in Alex. I was greeted by 2 shopkeepers in their mid twenties. They started leading me to various books encouraging me to buy them and we later turned our discussion to politics and the current events in Egypt.
It appears that both of them spend a lot of their time reading books from the store especially when the shop owner is not around. Just like almost all Egypt’s youth, they voiced their anger and frustration at the current state of Egypt and how they were very encouraged that Egypt’s political arena started to witness some serious action. They had very positive attitudes towards the Kifaya movement and El Ghad party. Both were practicing Muslims who believe that religion is a personal issue and they voiced their distaste for Turkey’s secularism. They explained that they are attracted to America’s secularism, a system that integrates all religion within its parameters while everyone has the right to express his/her faith without intimidation.
We discussed a lot of topics. The coming elections, the Islamists, the internal and external pressure on the Egypt’s regime. I noticed something very interesting when our conversation ended after an hour and a half and I finally left the store. The almighty issue of Palestine and the perceived “horribleness” of the USA never got into our discussion. We didn’t discuss Palestine and Israel. We didn’t discuss the US. We talked about Egypt and only Egypt. This was so weird because any political discussion in Egypt will have to include Palestine and a number of cuss words directed towards the US.
I then remembered the “Good Morning Egypt” program (yea, it’s a copy of the American version) I saw when I woke up on that day. They had this university professor on who was babbling about Iraq and Palestine. On Iraq, he mentioned the official rhetoric adopted by Arab commentators: the US must offer a time table for withdrawal, the “resistance” is great and awesome, and US casualties are far more than what gets reported. Nothing on Iraqi casualties, nothing on head choppers. The entire political section of the program mentioned nothing about current Egyptian events. It seems that the media still thinks that by turning our attention to Palestine and Iraq, we will forget what is happening in our neighborhood. The conversation I had with these 2 shopkeepers proved that it might not work this time.
My prayer, my dream, and my hope is to find an organized and well financed political force composed of people as balanced and as open minded as those 2 poor shopkeepers. Only then will I accept a free ballot box with a wide embrace.