The Big Pharaoh
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Sunday, June 05, 2005

I didn’t want to write what you are going to read right now

I admit I thought countless times before writing today’s post. I signed in to Blogger twice only to sign off again. My hesitation was a result of me not wanting to “hang our very dirty clothes” in front of this blog readers. After much thought, I decided to post just to inform you of the humiliation many of us feel and what this “humiliation factor” can lead to.

Upon Laura Bush’s recent trip to Egypt, it was planned that she, along with her host Mrs. Mubarak, would visit a USAID funded school in Alexandria. One week before the scheduled visit, the tattered school was painted anew, tidied up, and the sewage system was fixed. The dirty roads around the school were cleaned up and trees were miraculously planted all around the area. A sign in English was written to welcome the 2 first ladies.

Nevertheless, the Alexandria education officials didn’t like how the Om el Qura school kids looked like! The girls were poor and wore dirty school uniforms. Instead of cleaning them out and distributing clean clothes that would have definitely drew a huge smile on their faces, the officials decided to replaced the kids with new kids brought from a language school! Not only that, they gave the entire school staff a one week leave! Can you imagine how humiliated the school kids and the teachers are feeling right now!

I believe that Mrs. Mubarak was not aware that she would take her guest to a fake school. I mean, the education officials would have done the same thing if it was only Mrs. Mubarak visiting the school. However, what happened highlights a very important issue which is the humiliation that our governments and leaders made so many of us feel.

Those who are poor and not well connected cannot escape humiliation in public hospitals, police stations, and the military establishment. When I went to check my military status at an army base, I saw firsthand how Egypt’s poor youth were being treated so harshly and without any atom of dignity by the army’s officials. I was spared from this treatment just because my former army general father was with me. This humiliation is one of the factors that make some so vulnerable to what a terrorist might preach to them. May be poverty and unemployment might not go away, but I don’t think it is that hard to teach government officials and employees that fellow citizens deserve to be treated humanely no matter how poor they are or how unclean and untidy their clothes might look.

Besides, I just don’t understand how a school that is funded by USAID can be so tattered and in such a bad shape. Does it really receive the funds or do they go into some pockets? And how come the US embassy here doesn’t check upon how Americans’ tax money is being spent? I have no clue!

Now, Mrs. Bush can do something that would turn the world upside down here. This might cause a huge diplomatic problem between the two countries but it will definitely help the US with some PR here. Mrs. Bush can say that she is not pleased with what happened and she demands that those who lied to her and Mrs. Mubarak be held accountable. She will then invite a delegation of 10 persons from the school, 5 teachers and 5 students, to go and visit the US in the summer. That would be something.


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