So, in case you don’t know, I am Egyptian – American. Born and raised and lived in Cairo for a quarter century before moving to the USA. One of the main reasons that made me wanna leave Egypt was the fact that corruption was rampant and you either had to join it or pretend it doesn’t happen and live like a zombie with no hopes or aspirations. I’ve seen demonstrations during my college years and they usually ended in a cloud of tear gas and injured or killed youth and these were the lucky ones. The ones that were arrested were tortured and their families were tortured in front of them. You see, the imposed Emergency Law gives the government a fully fledged authority to arrest and imprison anyone for any reason they see fit. No trial necessary. Not to mention the one party system and the rigged elections that always resulted in 99.9% success rate to the ruling party. I never voted or bothered to vote as the whole process was a farce. Since I wasn’t an activist I tried to change things through music but even then we were sensored and targeted by the government. The government started a methodical press campaign using government owned media, demonizing all the Egyptian Heavy Metal bands that started popping up around 1993. They called us Satanists and they called us tools of the Western countries trying to invade our culture by corrupting the minds of the innocent youth. Some of my musician friends were arrested and got their long hair shaved.They were beaten and kept in custody for a few days. I was lucky I didn’t get arrested but I had to stop playing music and lay low for a long while.

I worked as a tour guide as that was my major in college. Looking back at Egyptian history, Egypt has never seen democracy, EVER! Since its creation, the Pharaoh was a God. Try arguing with that! Then we went through a series of occupations by various foreign entities, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks, French, English you name it. So no democracy there either. Then the military stated a Coup D’états in 1952 against King Farouk promising of a new found democracy. However, replacing a King by a “President” was just a naming convention change but the reality was we had a dictator placing another. So since 1952, Egypt has seen only 3 presidents. None of them was elected and none of them left willingly. All of them were from the military. Of course all of them had great historical achievements there’s no doubt about that but they have stripped the Egyptian people from the right to choose. They all thought they knew what’s best for the people without consulting the people, relying only on the corrupt circles around them. Nothing good comes out of feeling superior to anyone.

Now fast forward 59 years from the 1952 Military “Revolt”. You have a country that is in a powerfully strategic location in the world, very rich in resources both natural and intellectual, yet more than 60% of the population lives off $2 or less a day! While 2% own the country’s wealth and about 30% getting by or living a somewhat decent life. I never felt the country was mine but rather occupied by the tyrant and his police forces. It’s really degrading to feel worthless in your own country and valuable in others. For some reason Egyptians coped and coped to a painful extent. People seemed to have given in to the current circumstances. There was a general feeling of carelessness. People didn’t care if there were garbage dump sites near their homes or if they had to bribe three different people to get any paper work done. Or that they had to stand in line for government subsidized bread and basic rations. “It’s not my problem” was the theme for years. People were numbed by government controlled media, wide spread of drugs, over 300 satellite channels that transmit nothing of value. Every time I went back to visit my family I would see some progress in certain areas, like better roads, better communications etc. but I also noticed that the general spirit was getting bleaker and bleaker. Being an insider/outsider gave me this bird’s eye view of the disintegration of the Egyptian human spirit. Never in a million years that I thought that they will ever rise up like they did. Not in my life time at least and I’m an optimist!

So, on January 16, 2011 my wife (who’s American) and I went to visit my family planning on staying there for three weeks through February 6, 2011. Stay tuned for part 2….

7 Thoughts to “A Bird’s Eye View on the Egyptian Revolution – Part 1”

  1. I just wanted to let you know that I saw this posting, opened it, and saved it on my computer for two days before reading it. I had a feeling that it was going to be special and I wanted to make sure that I had the time to read it carefully. I sure am glad I did. You did a wonderful job of expressing yourself and telling the story of Egypt in a completely different view than what I have seen on the news. It is nice to hear the story from someone who actually lived it instead of it coming from someone who has lived with freedom their entire life and probably takes it for granted. I know there are times in my life when I do. I see my friends and family doing the same from time to time. It is nice to be reminded how lucky we are, no matter how tough it gets here sometimes. It can always be worse, much, much worse. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope your family and friends are doing well. I will definitely be passing this on to others. 🙂

  2. Katie, thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. I’m glad I could help bring a new perspective on the recent events. America is a great country and has a lot to offer and I’m grateful for the privileges it gives me. I am very happy that Egyptians are finally realizing their power and trying to live up to their potential. The world is changing for the better and people around the world are asking for their God given right to live a respectable life. Thanks again and please do share this! Ayman

  3. Ayman, Here is Galal Hamza
    Thank you for such piece of art; it is so realistic that i felt seeing my life running in front of my eyes. of course, we all saw lot of these things happening, but none of us was knowing what to do? or how should it start? I almost lost all the hope of change, but it just happened. i am living as well outside Egypt for almost 10 years now, so maybe we should think how can we contribute. You are talented in writing, so keep writing, maybe asking people to go back and visit Egypt (it is our specialty anyway), from my side i will send all my money to invest in whatever, so i suggest you to invite Egyptians to think how they can contribute. Thanks again, and keep going.

  4. Good to hear from you Galal! These are amazing times and I totally agree we should do all we can to help Egypt get back on its feet quickly! I will do all I can through writing, film and fund raising even. Egypt is on the verge of an amazing change and I’m glad I Iived to see it.

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