Monday, January 27, 2014

Luxuries in the desert

Luxury is something different for all of us; here in Egypt it might signify that a family gets hold of enough food every day. For others, to allow themselves to eat meat once per week, to send their children to a good school or to wear a new jacket on feast days.

Luxury might connote going on a two-weeks-holiday to Rimini once a year, to own a car or to call a yacht one’s own.

Those managers, housewives and other highly committed citizens, who rush from date to date, quickly do their shopping after work, hurry to the gym in order to be at home just in time for the late  news, set their alarm clock for 6am so that they can continue to hurry next morning… All those might declare “having time” as their luxury.

For me, it means to do something at that moment when I feel like doing it. This has really become a luxury good in our consumption stricken affluent society. It’s kind of a liberty that we hardly grant ourselves.

Yet, there is something even rarer to find in the era of technology:

Utter silence
Where can it still be found? Far away from civilization, i.e. on top of a mountain peak. In the sea. In the desert.

I’ve missed this absolute silence since I lost the mountains in the Alps. Here in the desert, I’ve found it again for a moment. To halt… amidst this infinite vastness… to stay motionlessly… to breathe deeply and listen. To listen and take in the absolute quiet: it was a wonderful experience.

I was surprised about the vastness: I underestimated the distance between the Sea and the first rocks of the Red Sea Mountains. In fact, the sand plain extends up to 40 km into the West, before reaching the black, light grey and pink rocks – far enough from the noise of the civilisation.

The one who thinks he will be ready for the uncertainties of the mountains or the desert, just because he can afford the up-to-the-minute brands and technical achievements, might be deceived. Just remember the numerous avalanche victims of this winter. Owning a Barryvox doesn’t protect you from an avalanche or the avalanche death! Just as little as one doesn’t climb a mountain off-handedly, one doesn’t enter the desert off-handedly. Some experience, reason and prudence are necessary in order to be able to face unwelcomed surprises or life-threatening conditions. It is recommendable to engage a specialist, a mountain guide in the mountains and a desert fox :) in the desert.

My long cycling trips on scarcely used highways bestow me somehow with this silence. Yet I felt happier on a mountain bike on the sand tracks (although it does need some stamina)! Hence, just because I was further away from civilization and because there was no sound at all. Just silence.

My luxury.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

25 January – 3rd anniversary

29 dead so far across Egypt. Nice celebration. People think they are celebrating the 3rd anniversary of the revolution. However in reality, they celebrate something rather different, as I noticed in Hurghada today: they hail their hero El Sisy. The men on the photo told me joyfully “We don’t want the Muslim Brothers, we want El Sisy.”

All those people that I saw in the streets this afternoon, seemed so happy and glad. Whereas I felt like crying.

It makes me sad to see how short and small the memories of the people are; they forget what 25 January was about, they forgot the police brutality, they forgot the thousands who died for a real change in Egypt and they close their eyes before the ongoing crackdown on all that are not WITH the regime. We speak about a period of three years only!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Bombings for breakfast, lunch and supper

Here I am, having breakfast and reading the news… in addition to coffee and muesli, internet serves bomb attacks. The most serious one probably occurred at the police headquarter in Cairo. Several people got killed and injured. In addition, the Islamic Museum and its (hardly protected) pieces were damaged.

And the day went on the same way: until now, four bombings have been sparked off. Again, innocents have been killed and injured. Again, the police have arrested hundreds… just any who happened to be nearby, who was graspable. Allegedly, Wael Ghonim’s brother has also been arrested. The police and the army have everything, i.e. everybody under control, everybody, except those that are really dangerous.

Of course, the Muslim Brothers are being accused again. Of course, more hate is being spread and herds of blind and brainless people follow the calls: down with the Muslim Brothers, down with the Americans, down with traitors and spies!!!!

A mob, incited and blinded by hatred (against whom?????), attacked a German camera team today. They can boast themselves for their headlines today and for having something exciting to show to their viewers that are longing for disasters and violence. A documentary about Egypt’s beauties that can already be sensed a couple of kilometres outside Cairo would be far too banal! Well, that’s how the media business works.

Police and army are on top of things. Welcome in the police state of Egypt. Violence breeds more violence – why do the rulers not take it in??? And why do they not learn that sooner or later they will succumb to violence as well?

I do admit, I’m down. Let alone the assault on the German journalists and their dramatic coverage will give another blow to tourism…

All this happened today, the day before the third anniversary of January 25, that day, when Egypt rose as one against the police state and the world rubbed its eyes in disbelief…

What will happen tomorrow???? More bombings?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

بالعربي: Open letter to my Egyptian friends

This is the translation of my "open letter" into Arabic. Many thanks to Sahar and her family for your help!

ابدا بنفسك

اصدقائى الاعزاء
هل تعلمون أنى أعيش فى مصر منذ مدة اتابع الاحداث اناقشها معكم واستمع الى مخاوفكم عن الحياة وعن الوطن لا احد فينا سعيد لما الت الية االامور فى السنوات الثلاثة الاخيرة واشعر باالاسف لكل شى اود ان اقولة لكم من اجلكم ومن اجل مصر كلكم تريد ون ان تغيرو الوطن وتحلمون تغير بلد كبيرة مثل مصر انها وطن 90 ميلون مواطن ومساحتها حوالى مليون متر مربع إنها وطن لشعب ذو مبادى وايمان وثقافات متعددة هناك نقص فى مياة الشرب والطاقة التى تضيع فى التلوث الهوائى ومياة الصرف والمخلفات على شاطى البحر وفى الاعماق هل معنى هذا  أن مصر أكثر الدول فسادا هل تريدون ان نتغيروا على 
الرغم من ذلك لااحد يريد ان يغير سلوكة اذا اردت ان تغير بلدك ابدا بنفسك .

الحياة الاجتماعية تتمحور حول الاحترام .

احترم الاخر ان جيرانك مختلفين عنك ويتصرفون بطريقة مختلفة ماذا فى ذلك لاتتدخل فى شئون الاخرين واهتم بشئونك هل يهم ان يكون هناك طبقة عليا وطبقة صغرى لماذا اتعامل من اهم وا اقل منك بقسوة ونتملق من اهم اعلى منك هم ليسو افضل منك او اسوا منك كلهم بشر ويستحقون الاحترام احترم المراة لاتتحرش بها لاتنظر اليها على انها فقط اداة للجنس بل هى بشر وعاملهن معاملة خاصة ليست عليك ان تحب اوتفهم اختيارات الشواذ ومن لايومنون بالله ولكن عليك ان تظهر لهم الاحترام على انهم بشر مثلك .

هل تستطيع القيادة.

أن الرجال المصرين يفتخرون بانهم ذو أخلاق 90% منهم يصبحون وحوش وراء عجلة القيادة لماذا لا تتوقف وتدع المشاة يعبرون الطريق ؟

لماذا لاتحافظ على مكانك فى الحارة الخاصة بك ودائم التنقل من اليمن لليسار برجاء احترام قانون المرور لذلك وعندما نتناقش مع اخرين لابد من الموضوعية لكن لماذا يكثر الصراخ فى الماكن العامة ويتطور الى شجار كبير حتى مع اقرب الاصدقاء هل فى استطاعتك الوصول بالمناقشة لطريقة مقنعة ومهذبة هل تريد مضايقة المارة والجيران ومن حولك رجاء اجعلها مناقشة متحضرة اما التحدث فى المحمول فى اللاماكن العامة والذى اصبح من الضرورات بل وأهم من الماء والغذاء . انت حر لكن لاترفع صوتك وانت تتحدث فى التليفون وتجبر الاخر من سماع ما تتحدث بة نحن لانريد حقا ان نتعرف على حياتك الخاصة .

هل لديك ميعاد مع شخص ما ؟ لاتتاخر عن ميعادك واذا تعزر وصولك فى الميعاد اتصل وابلغ عن سبب تاخيرك هل انت من المحظوظيين ولديك وظيفة ؟ مئات من الالاف لايعملون فلماذا لاتعمل بجد والتزام ؟ لماذا تعمل بنسبة 60% من طاقتك لماذا فى نصف الطريق ولا تكمل ما بدات عملة اذا كان لديك وظيفة فهذا التزام ولكن عدم التزامك يعنى انك لاتستحق راتبك .
أعلم انك مختلف معى فى الراى وتريد الرد لكن الاخرين يقومون بذلك هل تريد الانتحار والقفز من اعلى قد يربد البعض القيام بذلك ولكنة ليس حلا

الحياة الخاصة .

 فلتكن خاصا بك انت وحدك أعرف الكثير حول هذا الموضوع انت غير سعيد فى زواجك وتريد الطلاق شريك حياتك غير سعيدا ايضا وكل افراد الاسرة غير سعداء واجة نفسك بصراحة وتوقف عن النفاق والخضوع للعادات والتقاليد البالية  فهى حياتك انت وليست حياة الاخرين هل تريد ان تنشا اطفالك فى عائلة منافقة  هل تريد ان تغرس بداخلهم النفاق الاجتماعى ام تريد هم اي يحيوا حياة افضل وتريد ان تتزوج بمن تحب ولكنها تدين بدين اخر
او من طبقة أخرى او من بلد اخرى كل هذة العوائق التى من صنع الانسان .

ولابد اسالك هل هى حياتك ام حياة من يريدون أن يضعوك فى قالب زواج معين يقضى بك الى التعاسة وانت شريك حياتك ويسخرك لارضاء العائلة لماذا لانكسر القيود هل ستسمح للاطفالك بتحطيم القيود ام انت تريد حياة افضل لاطفالك  اليس كذلك.

البئيىة والتلوث والنفايات .

هل تحتاج فى كل مرة تذهب فيها لشراء كولا او عصيرلماذا تاخذ كيس بلاستك لوضعها فية خصوصا اذا كنت ستشربها على الفور

لماذا لاترفض بابتسامة هذا الكيس البلاستيك ؟

هل فكريت فى هذة الاكياس البلاستيك التى تذروها الرياح هنا وهناك فى الصحراء وفى البحرهل فكرت بمدى الضرر الواقع على الشعاب المرجانية والاسماك والطيور على الارض من جراء ذلك فهذة الاكياس تاخذو وقت طويلا قبل ان تتحلل فكيف ستشعر عندما ترى بلدك مغطى بالنفايات القبيحة التى توذى العين والصحة توقف عن الحاق الضرر بالبئية  

تنام والنور مضاء ...

مصر لاتتحمل كل هذا الاهدار فى الطاقة من المهم ان تبدا بتغير حياتك ؟واذا لم تفعل فمن سيغيرهالك هل يبدا اطفالك فى تغير نمط حياتهم ام سيبقى كل شى كما هو ولاشى سيتغير ابدا فكيف اذن بالله عليك سبتغير بلدك للافضل أن لم تتغير انت .

أعلم جيدا ان اصدقائى المصرين تعلمو يعملون جيدا أن رسالتى لكم من القلب 
برجاء شارك ذلك الخطاب مع الاسرة  
                                           وشكرا لكم جميعا

Saturday, January 18, 2014

LoLliPoP and other snapshots

Cycling on my racing bicycle on the Safaga road, oblivious of all around me; being aware that a car slows down beside me and thinking what the driver might want. When the pick-up is right beside me, the front-seat passenger holds out a lollipop towards me. ^-^

Hurghada is crawling with police. Since the regime’s comeback, there are checkpoints in every street. I’m wondering where they hid during the last three years – there are so many! Yet, they leave me alone when I’m on my bike. ^-^

Reluctantly, I go to the police to file a charge. The building is in a deplorable condition; apparently the restrooms are being renovated, because cement bags, toilet bowls and workmen can be seen everywhere. The Brigadier-General greets me politely and listens attentively to my translator. Later on he tells me about his journeys to Europe – in his best English. I can’t spot a computer anywhere; the records of the delinquents consist of thousands of yellow file cards with a photo and are situated in an old wooden box. The police officer, who phrases my file in Arabic manually written, offers me – even before I can have a seat – a chocolate biscuit. ^-^

When you can’t understand it anymore… it’s Egypt.

Full of hope

(posted on my German blog on 14 January 2014)

Watching the photos on internet giving impressions of the first day of the referendum over the revised constitution, and listening to what my Egyptian acquaintances say, my eyes fill with tears.

The people say „Yes“ because they finally wish serenity and peace in their country. They are fed up with the demonstrations, the religious representatives’ promises and the bombings. They are tired and exhausted after three years full of hope and fight – that seem completely useless at the moment. They want to live, laugh and work again. They want to eat, drink and sing again. They want to discuss football and not politics.

Who can blame them???

Last year, my guard said with zest that Morsy got rid of the army and everything will be fine – Insha’Allah. Today, he said with zest, everything will be fine – Insha’Allah – and the army is no problem. Freedom will come gradually. – I can understand him and the other 50 million…

Shut up

(posted on my German blog on 12 January 2014)

Egypt is heading back with giant steps into a repressive past. Those who are not with them, are against them, is declared to be a traitor and silenced.

The „protest law“ that has been launched recently does not only aim to curb the demonstrations of the Muslim Brotherhood which have become a routine, and to take violent measures against them. It also silences the opponents of the present regime. Who are the opponents? What are the holders of power afraid of?

Currently, dozens of famous and hundreds of less renowned activists are jailed. They are those courageous ones that were the driving force of the uproar of 25 January 2011. Other thousands of innocents who were sitting, standing or walking in the wrong place at the wrong time, in addition to journalists, Muslim Brothers and other “state enemies” are locked up as well. The activists are accused to have demonstrated without prior permission, to have called for protests or – even worse – to have damaged state property or to have attacked the police. The one who speaks up is at risk of finding himself in the hands of the police. During the retrial of Khaled Said’s murder, a poet was conducted away by the police; some protestors held signs demanding justice (for Khaled Said) in front of the court house. When the police arrested some of them, the poet asked a police officer “why do you arrest them?”? Now, he too, is jailed (Masr El-Youm, 7.1.2014).

Millions of pounds are spent on banners hung up all over the country, inviting the people to say “Yes” on tomorrow’s referendum over the revised constitution. Yet, the handful of people that distributed flyers calling to vote against the constitution was arrested. The regime is scared of those who disagree. Not to mention the fact that with the wasted money many people in need could have benefitted. The money is wasted because the constitution will be accepted anyway. Or does anybody doubt it?

I was warned by an acquaintance: I should take care where I comment. Indeed, I was virtually attacked and insulted when I expressed my doubts over the substance of the news. According to the mishmash that has been spread by the media for months, the police constantly discovers planned bomb attacks, spies terror cells, kills terrorists, prevents a 12 year old from blowing himself up, and detects hidden bombs. Not all of this can be true. First, I did not even understand the reason for being branded. However reality is: who is not backing the present (and old) regime, i.e. who does not rejoice with the majority, is either a MB supporter or a spy funded from abroad. Anyway, he/she is a hypocrite and someone who hasn’t got a clue about Egypt. I don’t, that’s true; but I watch and listen. And then, I think and this is anyway already too much.

The majority in particular does not want to think, but to follow a hero who guides them to paradise – in Egypt this means stability, security and away from the misery. Whoever promises this will be hailed as a hero and unquestioningly followed. Thereby, they fall from one trap into another. The one, who dislikes it, is an opponent who has to be locked up so that he/she never ever comes up again with the idea of inciting uproar.

I wonder: how strong is such a regime that is scared of its own people? Meanwhile, the minority waits and keeps silent. Sooner or later, this will change again and the majority will realise that it had fallen into a trap. After the uproar is before the uproar - despite repression and violence.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Witch hunt open

(posted on my German blog on 26 December 2013)

The witch hunt has been publicly declared open. Fingers were pointed at the MBs by the government and by the public after the attack on the police headquarter in Mansoura. However, no evidences are given and the MB have distanced themselves from the attack (it’s another question, if they speak the truth) and although the group Ansar Beit El-Maqdis confessed the assault.

The people from Mansoura could not contain their anger and furiously destroyed shops, buildings and other Muslim Brothers’ properties.

The MB were declared a terror organisation and everyone that belongs to that group may be arrested. Yet: how can one recognise a Muslim Brother? They are organised like a secret society and it consists of inner and outer circles whose members are privy to its secrets according to the grade of their affiliation. Then, there are sympathisers. Numbers are unknown, only estimates circulate: several million supporters – which can be understood given the Brotherhood’s charitable activity – and several hundreds of thousands of members.

That means, they cannot be recognised. All those millions of followers and those who are grateful for cheap food, free schools and 50 pound notes for their votes: are they terrorists?
Everybody who looks or behaves like a „Muslim Brother“ can be hunted. Equally, as Christians are still being chased and their belongings being pillaged. Equally, as it happened to the Jews in Europe.

It’s enough to make you weep. This witch hunt will spread more hate; it will result in more casualties who have to be revenged, and in more grief for the plagued Egyptians. The bombing will not stop because of this, on the contrary. What on earth do the government, respectively El-Sissy and his colleagues think?

The “war against terrorism” is extensive and meanwhile, the repression includes also those activists, who stood behind the uproar of 25 January 2011. They have just been sentenced to several years in jail.

Does the world soon have to observe, how Egyptians slaughter each other? Only four weeks to go to the third anniversary of 25 January. When is the next uproar?