Sunday, May 8, 2011

Protect the Copts

Nestled into the Egyptian landscape
More and more, all that is separating Egypt from descent into a total abyss is the simple existence of its indigenous Christian population. The continuing (it did not start in the past few months, but rather has been ongoing for centuries) efforts to plaster over Egypt’s Coptic community has far-reaching implications for the direction of a post January 25 Egypt. But for the presence of many millions of Copts (it’s ridiculous, we don’t know how many), the continuum of the Muslim Brotherhood – Salafists (don't know their numbers either, but there are too many directly and indirecly sympathizing with them) would have a far clearer path to imposing their regressive monopoly over Egyptian society. Ideally, one would not have to revert to such simplistic and anti-modern notions of nation building, but the depressed state of Egypt leads to this conclusion.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

For all the fretting about how the disjointed and basically hopeless opposition can break the seemingly unstoppable momentum of the Muslim Brotherhood and its mind-controlling P.R. machine, the best bet for defeat is to simply let these guys reveal themselves.  The Brotherhood’s ridiculous announcement of an intention to form a sporting arm that can field a team to play in national sporting competitions is a priceless platform for exposing its real limitations.  The day Egyptians abandon their love of Zamalek (and for those less fortunate ones, Ahly), or give up on the cathartic and decidedly unreligious practice of mass, dirty chants against the opposition, the referee and their respective mothers and sisters, is the day donkeys (the real kind, rather than the symbolic ones flapping about from time to time) will fly over Tahrir Square. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Where Bin Laden is Missed

Peace and Love
So the same Muslim Brotherhood whom President Obama and his cheerleaders hopefully point to as forward thinking reformers who will create a new Middle East, and with whom a leadership in Egypt  continues to disturbingly accommodate, turn out to be rather ambiguous, if not outright remorseful and bitter, it would seem, about the death of a man who is an embodiment of hate and destruction.  In its own words, the Brotherhood's official statement about the "assassination" of "Sheikh" Osama Bin Laden (and women and children) makes not a single reference to this man's destructive legacy.  Instead, they moan and groan about the familiar and tired refrains about Western imperialism, Zionism, etc.  Such is the state of retardation and escapism among the Egyptian population, that this view sadly is not confined to just the Brotherhood, but in varying degrees, reflects the thinking of many Egyptians, including seemingly educated and Westernized ones, bitter that it does not fit into the comfortable storyline of a saintly uprising versus American-backed purveyors of suppression in the region. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

No more candy, please

Egypt is not exceptional. Unfortunately, those are four words practically no Egyptian or world observer of Egypt accepts, and the longer it takes for this reality to set in, the more torturous the path of reforming Egypt will be. From birth to the grave, Egyptians are fed a steady diet of self-edifying drivel about their uniqueness, based on everything from the civilization built up by the Pharaohs seven thousand years ago, to their supposedly superior ability to do anything and everything in modern times. The inconvenient truth of the chaos and underdevelopment that defines Egyptian life always is the fault of some sort of other (from either within or outside of Egypt), and the path forward is one that Egyptians can define without reference to lesser places like the United States, the entirety of Europe, India or China - which are still somehow widely considered less advanced - or anywhere else for that matter. Hence, the zig-zagging approach to drafting a new constitution, the obtuse definition of the relationship between state and religion, economic policies which, to be generous, can only be considered as idiosyncratic, and the omnipotent short cutting and rule bending of Egyptians on anything and everything.

The world, led by the United States, has reinforced this exceptionalism by playing along to and expanding the mantra of Egypt’s special role in the region. Thus, the tens and tens of billions of dollars in grants, debt relief and concessional loans that though well meaning, have retarded the country's economy, and kid-glove treatment on the blatant disregard of universal norms of respect for individual and minority rights by Egypt’s power structure (which structure extends far beyond a single leader or institution, but rather is the potent combination of the repressive central state and mob rule that has defined Egypt since 1952, and still does).