Monday, December 30, 2013

ابدا بنفسك - Open letter to my Egyptian friends

Dear friends,

You know that I’ve been living in Egypt for quite a while. I follow the events, I discuss with you and listen to your worries about your life and your country. None of you is happy, we are all disappointed from how the last three years have turned out. I’m sorry for all of you and I’m sorry for Egypt. But there is something, I would like to tell you:

You all want to change your country? You’re dreaming of changing a huge country like Egypt:

  • that is home to 90 million people,
  • whose surface is almost one million square meters,
  • that is home to people of different ethnics, faith and cultures,
  • that cannot provide for enough drinking water, corn and energy,
  • that is drowning in smog, sewage water and waste ashore and in the sea,
  • that is among the most corrupt countries of the world?

You want to change all this and much more than that??? Yet none of you is trying to change your own attitude. If you want to change your country, you first have to change yourself! ابدا بنفسك

Social and public life – it’s all about respect
Please, respect other people. Your neighbour is different from you? He behaves differently? AND SO WHAT? Mind your own business!

Lower class, upper class? What’s that? Why do you rant at the sweeper and bow to the manager? None of them is better or worse than you: all of them are human beings and deserve respect.

Please, respect women. Don’t harass them, don’t gape at them as if they were only sexual objects and no human beings. Treat them as if they were princesses – they deserve it.

What’s the problem with gays, lesbians, atheists and believers of other religions? You don’t need to like them or understand their choices. But show them respect – they are human like you and me and everything else is neither your nor my business.

You’re driving? Egyptian men boast themselves for being gentlemen. However, 90 % of them turn into monsters as soon as they’re holding a steering wheel. Why don’t you stop and let pedestrians cross the street, but instead, you accelerate and almost kill them? Why don’t you stay in your lane but switch from right to left and from left to right at your own discretion? Please respect the traffic rules – this is what they are made for.

You’re having an argument with somebody? Ok, figure it out. But why do you need to shout in public and even start a brawl or worse: start a big fight with your friends’ support? Can’t you just figure it out in a decent way? Do you really need to bother all passers-by, the neighbours upstairs, downstairs and those on the other side of the street as well? Keep it civilised, please.

Talking on the phone in public seems to be more essential than drinking water or eating bread. I got it. But then, please don’t raise your voice and let dozens of other people listen to your talk – we really don’t want to know about your personal stuff.

Are you having an appointment? So don’t be late! And if you happen to be late, ring your buddy up and tell him about your delay.

You’re among the lucky ones who have a job? Hundreds of thousands haven’t got one. So then why don’t you do your job properly? Why do you deliver only 60% of quality, why do you accomplish only 60% of the task? Why do you stop halfway? Why do you leave it half-finished? Having a job is a commitment – but if you’re not committed, it means you’re unreliable and not worth the salary.

I know, that you want to reply “but others do it as well!” AND SO WHAT? Do you jump from a skyscraper when someone else does???? Yes, most probably you do…

Private life – keep it private, it’s yours only
You told me so many sad stories about this subject. You want to divorce? You’re unhappy, your partner is unhappy and everybody else in your family is unhappy, too? So, skip the hypocrite honour, traditions and culture of your tribe or family! Is it your life or those of the others? Do you want to bring up your children in a hypocrite family, teach them hypocrite values or do you want their life to be better than yours?

You would like to marry the one you love, but he / she is from another religion, country and social class and any other of those man-made artificial obstacles? Again, I ask you: is it your life or the life of those who want to force you into an arranged marriage that will leave you and your partner unhappy, that will force you to play a role just to satisfy the honour of the family? If you don’t break the circle, will you allow your child to break it? Or will you force it into the same unhappy life? But of course, you want your child to have a better life than yours, don’t you?
Choose your own life and respect choices of others, please!

Environment, pollution, waste and that kind – care for it
Do you really need a new plastic bag every time you buy a can of coke? No? You drink it anyway right away? So then why don’t you refuse the plastic bag with a smile?

Have you ever thought about all that plastic bags and bottles and cardboard boxes and cans that the wind swirls into the desert and into the sea? Have you ever thought what damage it does to the coral reefs, to the fish, to the birds, to mother earth? Have you ever thought that plastic takes ages to decompose? Have you ever thought about how ugly it is to see all that rubbish all over your country and what harm it can bring to your health? Stop littering, please! Stop dumping debris on streets, squares, in the sea and in the desert. If you can’t find a rubbish bin right away, take your rubbish home and dispose of it there – and teach others to do the same. Be an example for those around you.

There are millions of poor people in your country. Many of them aren’t able to eat one’s fill every day. You know it, don’t you? So how come that you venture to throw away food and half-empty drinks?

Your country suffers from power cuts and lacks of enough energy supply. I’d think that everybody would try to be economical with it, yet I’m wrong! Is it really necessary, that your air conditioner is running while windows and doors are wide open? Has no one ever told you that doors and windows should be shut? Lights in staircases are on all night – why? Streetlights burn during the day – why? You sleep with the light switched on – why? It’s such a waste of energy and of money! Egypt can’t afford to waste it.

ابدا بنفسك
If it’s not you who start to change your life, who will do it for you? Will your children start to change their lives? Or will everything remain the same always? So that nothing will ever change? How then, please tell me, should your country ever change?

I know that most of you, my Egyptian friends, are aware of this and behave accordingly. This is an open letter, so please share it with your friends and your family and their friends and family.
Thank you.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and happy New Year.

May you be able to spend these days with those who love you. May the next year bring you what you wish the most of all.

El Qamar

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Morsi overthrown

What a people, what a youth!
First, they collect 22 million signatures.
Then, they bring 30 million people out on the streets to demonstrate against their president.
And finally, they get rid of two presidents within less than 2,5 years.

I don’t want to believe in a coup. The country is too broken and down. Each party, every politician and every citizen has learned a bitter lesson during the past 29 months. In addition, Egyptians are assured that their voice counts, that they can achieve a goal as long as they unite.

I’m so happy for this population that has to suffer so much… I can’t put it into words… Finally, they may start to build their country the way they wish it.

May they be successful.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The blue moon: a place for those in need (part II)

The clinic is actually a gallery. Monica is a painter and her husband is a stone carver. Yet now, the operating theatre is in the gallery and the workshop serves as office and working room. Everywhere, handicrafts of the two artists are deployed, hung up and I literally step on them: even the floor’s tiles are inscribed and painted with saws in different languages. However, there’s hardly any time left for art, whereas animals get operated here inside and – what is known all over Hurghada – street animals get castrated for free. For many years, Monica has been the driving force to stop poisoning the wild cats and dogs and instead to have them castrated for free. HEPCA and other animal protection advocates supported her.

From home and workshop to an animal shelter
How did all begin?
“There was a cat meowing in front of our front door.” Her husband took her inside, they nursed her and one day she disappeared. “Thereby, we never ever had any business with animals!” Soon after that, her husband turned up with two budgies in a basket. Hence, they built an aviary on their workshop’s veranda. Since birds don’t like to live alone according to the information from internet – this is where she got her knowledge initially – they bought three more birds. While buying fodder in Cairo, they acquired a cat, since the other one had run away. The “street matador” made sure to produce some offspring and soon, Monica and her husband found themselves in the middle of a flock of kitten. They ought to be castrated and hence, they went to see a veterinary. Yet he killed them while castrating them. As compensation, they wanted a dog. However, he brought two friends along with him and so they also had become castrated. The result of the castration was the same as with the cats.

The blue moon: a place for those in need (part I)

An animal shelter in the middle of the desert, built with much blood, sweat and tears

Hurghada has more to offer than only sun, sea and cheap alcohol and the related sex tourism. Now and there, thanks to personal efforts, private organisations and opportunities arise that do not focus on short term profit. However, they seek to improve unsupportable situations for a better future. The “Bluemoon” is one of those and I’m going to talk about it in this blog.

“Bluemoon“ is not the name of a cosy country inn, but the name for an animal shelter amidst the desert. At the middle ring road, Monica is waiting for me, sitting in her bright red Volkswagen Beetle. We are jolting over a dirt road for another 500 m into the desert. Getting off the car, we are actually standing in the heart of the animal shelter. A white puppy is greeting us waving its tail, cats are sniffing at me curiously and are stroking around my legs while I’m looking around. There’s a huge table surrounded by a dozen of chairs, behind it there are two sofas, covered with hand woven rugs, beside it there are a kitchen table, a bench, a water pipe. Further to the right, I see a big stone table on brick-built pedestals. Cats and dogs are everywhere. Walls and pillars are made of building rubble and broken stones from the desert, palm leaves and straw provide shade. The floor: sand. Of course! All made from nature. Bays in the pillars give space to art work. Immediately, I feel fine. The half open construction leaves the view open towards the corrals.

The corrals – an empire for each animal
“Let’s first have a tour of the place”, Monica suggests and shows me the young plants of her mini nursery. Here, succulents are grown and sold at the markets. “What are succulents?” I ask. These are plants that retain water“ is her answer, which I consider as logical as I feel ignorant. Right beside, birds twitter in an aviary. I peek through the narrow mesh and discover light blue and white canary birds perching on bamboo sticks and rocking. For an instant, I remember my childhood… my grandpa.. yellow canary birds… 

Yet Monica’s voice brings me back to the here and now. She marches out into the blazing nine o’clock sun. Stroking a donkey she recounts that even the government brings her abused donkeys that they have confiscated from burglars. Just the government! Ironically, she and her husband Salah were accused by exactly this government of stealing water from the pipeline and they have been sentenced to one year in prison. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

30 June 2013: Something is brewing

تمرد „Rebel“ is the name for a campaign that is collecting signatures for early presidential elections. The campaign is being supported across the Egyptian population, across all kind of parties and associations and now even by the police. The goal to get 15 million signatures was achieved some weeks ago. They continue, at the moment they got 20 Million checked, true signatures from living persons, not from dead ones (as on the occasion of the elections).

Since a couple of days, there are selective demonstrations in the name of this campaign and the 30 June shall be the temporary climax. The initiators are preparing a road map for political measures.
The atmosphere is tense, many people are afraid. Afraid of violence, of bloody clashes and more deaths. They are also afraid of the country being split up further, falling deeper into the abyss and chaos. The Muslim Brothers allegedly have rented dozens of flats at strategic locations in Cairo to place snipers. We had this before. The MB militia is promising blood baths and massacres if “their” president should have to resign. We had this before, too. For several months already, tourists are coming to the Red Sea only; tourism in the Nile valley is almost inexistent. Hence, we’ve seen this before.

However, Morsi and his fabulous government offer almost day by day new, incredible and hair rising surprises; they all have something in common however bewildering they may seem at the first instance: they mess up everything and destroy the country’s reputation.

How come that

  • Egypt allows itself to be cut off from the Nile water from Ethiopia?
  • Egypt breaks off diplomatic relations with Syria? Both countries were once united in the “United Arab Republic” (1958-1961) and friends.
  • Morsi is travelling to different countries in order to beg for money? Notably into countries such as Russia which is supporting Syria’s Assad regime?
  • A member of the Gam’a Al Islamaya is appointed governor of Luxor; the group is responsible for the 1997 attacks on tourists?
  • Egypt exports electric power to Israel and Jordan while the people of Egypt suffer from shortages and daily power cuts that last for hours?
  • Egyptians kill each other and lynchlaw is spreading fast?
  • crime has exploded exponentially?
  • and so much more!

There are answers. Read for example This site publishes translated articles from the Brotherhoods; articles that are published in Arabic only. The original texts call for sectarian incitements and killings. They stir up hatred against the initiators of the Rebel campaign, activists, Copts and differently minded; and they spread false news.

The MB militia is always involved in bloody clashes with the protesters. So-called “mass rallies” are built up of poor people from the country side; they are taken to Cairo by bus and receive a couple of hundred pounds and food for their show. Corruption, power, money and greed. Imagine, an inquiry panel of the EU has realized that funds provided to fight corruption have disappeared! They are more naïve than me!

Everything that happened since 25 January 2011 can be put in one sentence:

Criminals that escaped from prisons thanks to Hamas have taken over.

They are ruling the country respectively were able to destroy more within two years than Mubarak destroyed within 30 years. Their single goal is: to take over all important positions in the state, to sow hardship and chaos and to divide people. In order to reach this goal they do not hesitate to distort the constitution at their own discretion, to forge elections, to enact laws, to censor the media, to accuse differently minded of blasphemy and to sentence them, to lie, to torture and to kill.

They will suffocate from their greed. The sooner the better.

The Egyptians are fed up. A friend has just called me, coming back from a two weeks holiday in Alexandria. Alexandria was the stronghold of the Salafis and pro Muslim Brothers. That’s finished. Even those who were MB friendly, are fed up of Morsi and his Brothers, of the lies, of the crime and the worsening economic situation Every taxi driver to whom I talk is railing about the MB. Nobody wants them anymore.

Only the USA still likes them. When I read Anne Patterson’s statement supporting Morsi and his government, I first thought about false news. But no: the MB continue being supported by the USA, this is why they suddenly broke off diplomatic relations with Syria. I’m just curious, if the US will change their mind once more as quickly as they did with Mubarak.

I trust in the Egyptian people and I have confidence for the coming days and weeks, even if I haven’t discovered a charismatic leader yet. There will be more grief, blood and casualties, but the people will not give up. The MB will fight as long as they can, but their days are numbered – they just don’t know it yet, they are afraid of it. They have got two advantages: arms and USA’s support.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Even the airplanes take off into the wrong direction. They take off southward instead of northward as they usually do. I watch them every couple of minutes targeting above the buildings into the dark night. Take off southward is only happening with no wind at all.

Since sunset I sit on the balcony; patiently, resigned to my fate and hopeful. Only once do I utter “ohhh!” – the moment, when a complex of building diagonally opposite is being lit. Yet a short moment later, it falls into darkness again. All Hurghada is dark.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Banking in Egypt and disappearing foreign currency reserves

I read and heard about it but I was not fully aware of the consequences for myself. I mean, a bit of course… As I do with so many problems – Egypt has taught me this – I wanted to wait and take things as they come, trusting that there is always a solution.

My rental payment is due at the beginning of February. Progressive-minded as I am I wanted to transfer the rent from my Egyptian bank account by E-Banking. Before, I wanted to change some Euro – in the same bank – into Egyptian Pounds to provide enough funds. Since I divined the consequences already a bit before, I did not change my Euros in December since a fast devaluation of the Egyptian Pound was looming. I’m almost a bit proud that I haven’t transferred more hard currency to Egypt. They would be blocked right now!

My bank kindly informed me that according to the Egyptian Central Bank’s provisions, customers are not allowed to change their foreign currencies into Egyptian Pounds by E-Banking! No access to the strong Euros, US Dollars and other stable currencies that are lying in the mouldering country. So what do business people do? These provisions make business lifes even more difficult in addition to all other problems and deficiencies.

I just remember one of my „students“ telling me before my departure about the payment moral: for credits of several hundreds of pounds due he obtains now and then a cheque of five thousand Pounds… Actually, it’s a miracle that everybody somehow still keeps afloat. Yet for how long will they?

For sure there is a solution for my small problem. I sent a message to the bank and explained my desire; maybe the transfer will be permitted. If not, I’ll find another way. Probably this is the way for business people, too: Necessity is the mother of invention.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Port Said for the second time

More than 70 football fans died last year in Port Said’s stadium. They were pushed down from the gallery (!), stabbed with knives, and found exits barred and were trampled over.

On Saturday, the „culprits“ were convicted: 21 people got death sentence. They’re football fans, young people. The real masterminds of the massacre were not sentenced. This is why people in Port Said took to the streets and demonstrated. They tried to free their relatives from prison. They torched municipality buildings, and they tried to get under control the power station and other strategic objects. Police ran away and the Army was deployed.

Who are „they“? Are they football fans? Are they again paid thugs that mingle with demonstrators? Are they again paid thugs in uniforms of the Central Security Forces who do the dirty jobs?

Yesterday, dozens of people lost their lives and today, during the funeral procession, more people died.

It’s awful. The readiness to use violence is horrible. Yet, the one who watches the videos in the internet discovers more atrocities: There are snipers standing on roof tops aiming at people! There are CSF members running through streets damaging parked cars of civilians! People are shot from near behind.

Who are „they“? Who is behind these killings?

Why does the government allow this? Or maybe I should rephrase the question: why is the government doing this? Is it its goal to sow more turmoil and chaos in order to facilitate a military coup? What are the MB’s rewards from such a scenario? Whose reward is it anyway?
Or has the „Murshid“ (ruler of the Muslim Brothers) lost control and there is another power behind those terrible crimes? Moursy however, was brilliant: he offered his condolences late after midnight by Twitter (sic!)!!!!

In spite of all the atrocities: the method is not new. Many times was it seen, many times civilians got executed or shot into their eye. Again and again although everybody knows meanwhile that people film these scenes and publish them in internet. Evidences exist in great numbers. Some of these witnesses were detained today while filming from balconies and roof tops. They have to fear the worst: hour long interrogations, torture, rape, detainment without accusation, no lawyer admitted.

Egypt’s leaders have their people killed in front of the world. In order to come to grips with the situation, once more the emergency law has been proclaimed (anybody can be detained anytime without any reason) and a curfew has been imposed. History repeats itself. Unfortunately.

Photos show the bearded next to the snipers, next to the police… It has been assumed for a long time that the Muslim Brothers are behind the camel battle and other massacres…

Thursday, January 24, 2013

25 January 2013 – 2nd anniversary

From far away, I’m anxiously waiting for the 25 January. A demonstration from three different meeting points will be held in Hurghada, in the rest of Egypt anyway. Activists invoke for demonstrations. But will this be sufficient?

Wouldn’t it be better they’d go out into the villages, into the poor districts and quarters and finally tell the people there what it is all about? Wouldn’t it be better to listen to those people out there and take their everyday problems seriously? It’s still the Muslim Brothers and the Salafists that approach the people and “pester” them. The activists, the seculars, yes, the complete opposition hides behind Twitter, Facebook and TV instead of addressing the people in Cairo’s slums, in the Delta’s shanty towns and in Upper Egypt.

The opposition has a golden chance: the people are tired and fed up of the Muslim Brotherhoods‘ lies and of the worsening living conditions. Yet, instead of uniting and building up a heavy weight opposition to the Islamists ahead of the parliamentary elections, they quarrel… Are they so egoistic? Or do they still not understand where Egypt is standing? What a keen disappointment!
If there won’t be any surprise by the workers, the poor or the Ahly Ultras, 25 January 2013 will just be a ceremony, nothing more.

Change has to come from inside, not from Twitter, Internet or TV. When is the day?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Deadly train crash – one of so many

“Have you heard the news?” my student asked with a serious look. No, I answered, I haven’t had the time yet to read the news. “There was again a train accident. Children in a school bus, more than 50 dead!”

This accident happened on 17 November, a couple of days before Moursy brokered the cease fire between Hamas and Israel and then announced his constituency decree. The school bus crossed an unsecured railroad crossing and was caught by the approaching train. The barrier was up, the security guard was not at his place. Last Monday, another train accident happened, this time with conscripts from Upper Egypt and for sure, it won’t be the last one.

The terrible accident in Assyut back in November reflects Egypt’s state of affairs in many fields and this is why I want to write about it here.

The six to eight year old children were squeezed in an overcrowded bus on their way to an Islam school where they never arrived. There are families who lost all their children in this accident; in the town of Mandara there is no family that was not hit by this disaster since a typical Egyptian family is big…

The attendant’s hut is tiny and uncomfortable; there he receives information about coming trains in order close the barrier. He frequently leaves the narrow stuffy place and has a chat and a smoke with his colleagues nearby. Over there, he neither hears the important phone calls nor overlookds the rails; hence, the barrier remains open in spite of coming trains. Many very sad accidents repeatedly happened here. Again and again, the people have demonstrated and demanded the removal of this dangerous train crossing. Yet, in vain.

On 17 November they searched in the ruins of the squashed bus for the remains of their children: a scrap of fabric, an exercise book, a shoe, a drawing, a school bag. The ambulance arrived poorly equipped at the place of accident: they collected the remains of the children’s bodies and put them into garbage bags that had to be emptied beforehand. Those still alive were brought to the local hospital in Manfalout where not even the most urgent equipment was available. So the children were transported to the University hospital in Assyut. But there as well, the hospital staff was unable to cope with the situation and could hardly administer first aid due to the lack of dressing and medications. A young doctor once told me how these public hospitals are managed: young graduates have to practise there for 300 pounds without supervision or help of senior doctors. Those are up to something else: they work in private clinics because the salary is better. Yet, I’ll write about this another time.

Only hours later did the police arrive at the place of accident. As always, it was promised that there would be an investigation and the violators be punished. As always, ministers promised to eradicate this unacceptable situation. As always, Moursy (sorry, I just can’t call him “President”) promised to indemnify the troubled families. Following last week’s accident, it was even promised to renovate 900 railway crossings all over Egypt. Immediately!

Three days later, almost another train accident happened in Mandara, when a train passed the open railway crossing… I’m sure that the situation remains unchanged.

Some culprits have been found. Negligence of the railway authority, no maintenance or renewal of the rails for more than 10 years, 15 rail workers were brought to court. I doubt that they are the real culprits.

By chance I’ve read today in “Egypt Independent“ that only a quarter of the allocated budget of USD 270 Mio. in 2009 and USD 330 Mio. In 2011 was used for railway maintenance. According to the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, the bigger share was squandered by members of the government. [sic!]

330‘000‘000 USD Dollars is a pretty penny. The families that lost a child in this horrible accident were initially offered 1’000 pounds (around 150 USD) as indemnity and it was later increased to 50’000 pounds. I dare doubt that any of them will ever see a penny. They can’t revive their children and they can’t turn their back on this scruffy state with this little money.

Negligence, failure, wealth grab = corruption. This is Egypt in every field: health, infrastructure, education, environment and so on. Egypt is a wealthy country. Yet only few get their share.

And the Western governments continue to send their money…

Monday, January 14, 2013

Muslim Brothers are liars

While having breakfast, I see this picture on facebook (from the group 6th April Hurghada) and I have to laugh:

The white board on the right says "Muslim Brothers are liars". The location: directly on the other side of the street of the Muslim Brother's office (second balcony, in the middle), in Nassr street, a much frequented main road between Hurghada and Dahar! Those who set up the sign prove wit and humour.

I wish everybody a happy Monday! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Reduced presence

My dear readers,

During the coming weeks, I will not be able to put my thoughts, views and experiences in words as I wish I could. There is a lot of material that is piled up in my mind and about which some scarce notes exist, but I lack time. I accepted to take over some responsibility back in my home country that will keep me busy until spring. Meanwhile, I try of course to keep myself updated with the events in Egypt and every time when I get surprised by some news, I want to sit down and write… I miss it.

Yet, this has to wait (especially the English translations). I hope you understand. Thank you.

El Qamar

Why don’t you get up and fight?

Why don’t you get up and fight for your right? It’s this question that I’ve been asking again and again since my second visit to Egypt.

My first and my second stay in Egypt are worlds apart. Worlds of knowledge, quasi. Upon my first visit, contrary to what I usually do, I came unprepared and ignorant to a country which was completely strange to me. Yet what I observed inside and outside the hotel resort at that time fuelled my intellectual curiosity and I searched answers for the many “whys”. When Saddam Hussein was executed shortly after Christmas 2006, I dearly wanted to know what the Egyptian newspapers wrote and what the people thought. I got into a conversation with a jeweller and he replied: ”Egypt has other problems than Saddam Hussein.” As if he wanted to stress these words, he waved a French passport around. I will never forget that moment; I felt embarrassed and realised that I did not know anything about Egypt.

Hardly had I returned back home, did I stock up on information from internet and the library about the country and its economy. The more I read, the more I wanted to know and the more questions popped up inside me.

Four months later, I went back to Egypt, travelled around, asked and watched. I asked everybody that came across my way and to whom I could make myself understood, I let them talk and listened patiently. I heard amazing, distressing, unbelievable and incomprehensible things. It was about broken relations, financial distress, work problems, tribes, existing and broken dreams. Of course, I also wanted to know more about politics but many of my interlocutors shirked, whispered or looked asquint to the left and to the right before they answered at all.

„Why don’t you get up, stand up and fight for your rights?“ [Jimmy Cliff]

How can one live in such misery? How can one put up with the daily harassment of the police at each corner of the street, at numerous checkpoints, the dictation and the random arrests? How can one live with a tight censorship and lopsided information of the state media? How can one live day by day with an all pervasive corruption? How can a young person plan his life that leads straight forward into a cul-de-sac and that does not permit any vision? How can an elderly person put up with this cul-de-sac and experience a continual degradation of the living conditions since the 50ies?

One of the answers was: „Because Mubarak holds all the powers: military, police, justice and parliament”. Another one was: “We have opposition; we have got some Muslim Brothers in parliament.” Or: “There is no opposition abroad.” But also: “We have internet, we know how it is outside.”

All this did not satisfy me. I grew up in a liberal country and was brought up and educated with liberal ideas. My mind cannot accept such resignation and passivity.

Thus, I searched for reasons and soon found some:

Egyptians are lazy
I mean: without any initiative, without any idea, without any fighting spirit, passive, indulgent. Don’t they prefer to sit in coffee shops, smoke shisha, watch football games or try to cheat tourists? I wasn’t completely wrong with this answer but it was too superficial.

On the course of further stays in this wide, varied and incomprehensible country, I uncovered lay after lay of the surface and gradually started to understand better. There are many reasons for the seemingly or real passivity.

The political system
Just imagine: the one year old boy who tries his first clumsy steps with his baby legs, sees Mubarak. The same boy who plays football with his comrades day after day on a dry sandy court and most probably dreams of a football career with Ahly, sees the “father of the nation” Mubarak on TV. The teenager, who sends sneaky looks at girls, only knows Mubarak, the “father of the nation”, praising his good deeds on his daily TV speech. The young man who is about to marry his young bride doesn’t know anything else than Mubarak, the National Democratic Party, a rigorous police state and no freedom. The young father, who fights every day to feed his family, hears and sees only Mubarak…

About 50 % of the Egyptian population doesn’t know any other state system than Mubarak’s dictatorship. How should a human being, who has never ever during all his life – 30 or 40 years – experienced anything else should be able to imagine another political system? I don’t mean to say that Egyptians are too stupid to do this, please, do not misunderstand. No! I want to say that the majority of those who are between 30 or 40 years old have never known anything else and therefore, cannot imagine a different political system. The freedom that we in Europe live and take for granted, does not exist in Egypt and is unknown to many.

The Egyptian educational system does not train up independent thinking human beings. Pupils have to learn by heart in order to obtain a certain number of marks. According to the points achieved, different Universities or ways of education can be pursued. Those who don’t get the highest marks, simply study law, teaching or anything else instead of becoming a doctor or an engineer. Children neither learn how to learn nor to use their brain to find for example alternatives, scrutinize facts, to criticise or to analyse. Teachers work for a pittance und therefore usually have another job to make ends meet. Only the one who can afford private lessons or go to a private school can make progress. The others learn by heart, repeat, obey and do what they are told to do. There is no place for personal development, creativity or even revolt.

How should anybody become initiative in such a system?

Culture, tradition and religion
I’m unable to separate these three values; for me, they are entangled, inter-dependent and tightly linked. Same as the religion demands obedience, such does the family that recognizes and respects the father (and later the eldest son) as family patriarch. Everything is done for the family; there is no way against the family (respectively the patriarch) except one risks the thorough and final breach with the family. In a wider circle, it’s the same within the tribes.

Furthermore, Egyptians are pacific and full of zest for life. Revolt is something that others do.

Obedience towards the superior (family, teacher, employer, police, and president) is entrenched and every time when I am a silent onlooker, I get startled. However, this is Egypt.

I cannot say that I „grasp“ now why this people doesn’t get up and fight all together, however, I understand much better. They just have another hard disk in their head that is built, programmed and loaded with different data – this is what I sometimes think.

Nevertheless, there was this uproar, this revolution that continues, that is pasty like cold honey and that comes in half-heartedly. I keep on asking my interlocutor “Why don’t you get up and fight?” and frequently the answer is “What can we do?”

This helpless sentence is a stich into my mind and into my heart as well. It makes me aware that a lot of time still has to go by until something really changes in the land of the Nile. Meanwhile, those who can, emigrate and the others somehow huddle through having faith in Allah to support them.