Tag Archives: politics

Token Resistance

I keep hearing about how such and such political activist or revolutionary prisoner is on a ‘hunger strike’ for whatever movement or injustice is plaguing them.

What a crock.

I’m certainly not belittling political activists or the movements they fight for, but I belittle the inanity and token bullshitness of this act.

Take for example just today Al-Baghdadi, the former PM of Gaddhafi, has gone on a hunger-strike in the Algerian prison he is being held in to protest his extradition.

Does anyone care whether this dipshit eats? I certainly don’t; Libya and the freedom fighters probably do not; if he wants to hurry the date of his execution and remove the need for a long and drawn out trial, then by all means, please commit suicide and go straight to hell.

I mean, who is going to care if this dude dies?

And it’s the same even on the flip-side, when it is a sympathetic character like a political activist who is throwing around hunger-threats like a toddler who threatens to hold her breath until she gets her way.

Angry Arabiya for example, a Bahraini political activist who went on a “hunger-strike” to protest the arrest and illegal detention of her father, husband, and brother-in-law.

As much as I felt bad for her and her family, what the french-toast did she think was going to happen?! It is apparent that the Bahraini government did not/does not care what happens to her or her family. They obviously weren’t going to give a damn if she died, by her own hand, when they have shown themselves perfectly willing to shoot protesters and move along.

And she’s no Gandhi with millions of followers ready, willing, and able to stage a mass uprising if she died, she would have simply been another drop in an ocean of people killed by evil regimes, and people would have mourned, and then forgotten about her.

I, personally, could only stomach a couple of days of her forced drama. “For the sake of my family and my little baby daughter, who begged me, I am drinking a cup of water a day.”

So, why? Why do people threaten or enact hunger-strikes if they are such wastes of time?

I think it’s because they can. Because it’s easy to fake. It’s easy to do. It’s easy to get out of.

But, can anyone name me an instance where a hunger-strike worked? Not including Gandhi, of course, because in his instance it was fear of his millions of followers mass-murdering the British if he died. Of course that doesn’t belittle his hunger-strike, because it worked, but other than him?

Maybe there have been, but for me the “hunger-strike” is the new hipster form of “protesting” and I think very little of it.

I’ll think I’ll hunger-strike the fact that I’m not a millionaire.

Addition: So, I’ve done a little bit more reading into Angry Arabiya (Zainab alKhawaja) and really….

On her twitter bio she states “. . .  I hate Arab dictators, and American neo-colonialism.”

And yet as soon as her father was beaten and detained (may Allah grant his release and the release of his compatriots), she sat down and wrote a letter to President Obama.  Reference.

It’s shit like that which really pisses me off.

White Men and Shotguns

A white man with white supremacist connections shoots up the Holocaust museum and the media forgets to mention the fact that most white supremacy groups are heavily tied into Christianity.

I’m totally not saying that Christianity is terroristic but had this been a Muslim who did it everyone would be up in arms about Islam being a hate-filled religion and all Muslims hating Jews.

There’s a double-standard here. Can someone please recognize it?

Also looking at serial killers, mass shooters, and wars: the scariest shiz on earth is a middle-aged WASP  man with a gun.

Ass Backwards: How Cairo Welcomed Obama

I worked the night before Obama came and while being driven home I noticed more the absense of the usual hundreds of parked cars than I did the unusual cleanliness of the streets. What I did not know then was that Obama’s route through the city took him directly past my workplace and mile by mile along the route I take home every worknight. Cairo, and Heliopolis by extension, did not appear much more different until the next morning when we drove back into Heliopolis on business. Driving down the Salah Salem highway I could not help but stare and giggle at the unending line of police, sodiers, and “secret” servicemen that stretched out as far as my eye could see.

They lined both sides of the road and the divider up the middle: black-suited soldiers stood exactly ten feet apart in their ‘at attention’ postures with their hands clasped behind their backs and around every third soldier stood at least one “secret” servicemen, who despite their attempts at looking non-chalant stood out in their dapper business suits, and one to two white-suited policemen. At every corner stood no less than three policemen, two soldiers, and an indeterminate number of “secret” servicemen and behind them, further down the street, were more policemen manning the road blocks that would keep people from entering the road once it was officially closed off for Obama.

It was this staggering amount of manpower that made me stare but what made me giggle was that every single black-clothed soldier stood with his back to the road, at some places they quite literally stood with their faces to brick walls like unruly school children being punished. The fact that the street and adjoining buildings were scrubbed to a sparkle, that Egypt had this many people laying around that she could use them in such an onstentatious manner, and that they were forced to stand with their asses to the street just compounded to make it one of the most absurd things I’ve ever seen. I supposed that even if it weren’t just for show it would make more sense for them to be facing out from the road guarding it but the whole thing just seemed so surreal to me.

This stretched on for miles, starting from in front of the Mohamed Ali Mosque, past Al-Azhar Park, and on into Heliopolis- presumably all the way to Hosni’s house where Obama took his breakfast. In one half-mile stretch there were probably 100-120 men just standing there. And really, lets talk about the “secret” servicemen. I get the suits, I really do, but the thing is that it makes more sense to have plain-clothes police in places where there are actually civilans however here the only civilians that anyone could see were those who were furtively making their way along the road in cars as quickly as possible like Mr. MM and I. The normal Cairenes were so terrorized by the idea of what the police would do to them simply for being on the streets at the wrong time that they holed up in their houses all day. Mr. MM said his friends who lived along the route didn’t even touch the curtains on their windows out of fear for their lives. So here were a number of men in suits standing around with the purpose of blending in and being “secret” however all they did is look like doofs standing in the shadows and smoking cigarettes. It was even worse when we got into the botanical sections of Heliopolis and they were hiding out in the leafy gardens in the middle of the road where only beggars and lounging street-cleaners usually hang out.

It was obvious when we were no longer on the Obama route not only because there were no more soldiers mooning us but because one could see again the obsequious piles of garbage, litter, and dirt that cover the streets of Cairo. The streets were still empty of people but at least it looked more like home. Gatherings were called off due not just to fear but to the idea that traffic, which is never fun in Cairo, would be so much worse today because of everything but in reality it was the complete opposite. Offices closed for the day, the Ministry of Education postponed all exams that were scheduled for that morning and afternoon, and many who did not have official breaks just did not go to work. So while there definitely were road closings while Obama was on the move, traffic in Cairo was actually fabulous in every other part, so much so that Mr. MM proposed that we drive somewhere just for the sake of being able to get there quickly.

Of all that things that he did here I wish that Obama had gone off the path and seen what Cairo really is because everything on the route he took was washed and fixed and freshly painted; Cairo University itself was entirely repaved. I wish that he had seen the degradation, the crumbling buildings, the piles of garbage, the hopelessness of the people; I wish that he had seen that the soldiers that lined his route stood as an allegory to how things always are here in Cairo: ass backwards.

His visit did what it was meant to though; forget the cynical pundits and journalists, the pessimistic bloggers and vloggers. General consensus among the Egyptian masses of everymen and everywomen is that Obama is someone who cares about the Muslim and Arab people and I can tell you that were Obama to run for President of Egypt tomorrow he would win hands down. But his speech really reiterated for me what I’ve been saying all along to people here: Islam and Muslims play a bigger part in America then anyone could imagine.

Now all I can hope for is that Obama stands up to Israel and Israel takes his words to heart.

Poligion and Relitics

Being driven to work today we passed again the front gate for the Ministry of Defense in Heliopolis (or is it Nasr City? I can never tell where each begins and ends) and I was struck by the inherent irony of the gate decor which is comprised of random pharaonic gods and a large replica of a pharaoh holding the severed heads of his four enemies by the hair. I think that there should be a word stronger than irony for this but I can’t think of what it would be. Sardonic reality? Anyways, we’ll get back to the reason I find it ironic later but first I was contemplating the obsequious use of pharaonic symbolism in all governmental buildings. To me it always seems somehow incongruous in such a religious society but then I reminded myself, as I always must, that Egypt is a secular country ruled by a democratically elected pharaoh president who puts politics before religion- except for the fact that the laws are based on shari’ah (loosely)- so of course they would use such religiously-safe symbolism as that of the mutually despised pharaonic civilization. Its least likely to ruffle feathers.

But then I was struck by an errant thought: I was once schooled by a sister, whose particular style of naseeha came with nausea, chafing, and rectal bleeding, who told me that it was haram to vote for any non-Muslim and therefore I had committed a grave sin by voting for Obama or voting in the American elections at all. (Side note: I know the man’s not Muslim but don’t I at least get some points for his name?) So, along that line of thinking isn’t it haram then to vote in any Egyptian elections? Have the 12 Egyptians brave enough to actually vote imperiled their souls?

And thinking further, is it halal to vote in ANY elections at all? What politician out there still has a soul and a connection to religion that doesn’t involve paying off priests and imams? Am I doomed to only voting for Kieth Ellison?

At least in Egypt we’re not given the choice and I have yet to meet an Egyptian who actually took the time to vote. Maybe Hosni’s doing us all a favor out of the goodness of his heart by not allowing us to vote in non-religious politics. That must be it- its for our own good.

And the irony of the gate is that it would be just as true if they had put Hosni’s face on that of the Pharaoh and the faces of the opposition leaders on the four heads of the conquered enemies. The only things this government hasn’t resurrected are the deifying of the pharaoh (they’re still working on it) and the marrying of half-brothers and sisters to keep the divine blood pure (but money and power only marries into money and power so its simply a matter of time.)

I Don’t Consider This Blog a Political Platform

And for that reason I do not blog about politics (beyond the little bit I blogged about the election and how it played a part in my life.) Thats partially why I recently removed some comments I made about Egyptian politics in a past post; I don’t want this to be a political blog because I am not a political person.

I also specifically try not to blog about the politics of Israel/Occupied Palestine because its a quagmire that so many others talk about with more education, understanding, and brevity than I, myself, ever could. I could never do it justice.

Having said that though, I have, just now, read a play written after the most recent, and horrific, siege on Gaza called Seven Jewish Children. If you are interested here is the link to read it and here is a link to the playwright’s comments about her work.

As always I believe that art is the great equalizer. My thanks to Reb Barry for originally posting all of these links for me to read.

Also here is an article by Avi Shlaim, an Oxford Professor of International Relations who formerly served in the Israeli army, on how the siege made him question his faith in Israel.

Zuzu is afraid of the maid

Edit: I cut out the part about Egyptian politics because it made me depressed.

Today I learned how Egyptians clean carpets. #3 brought her daughter with her this morning and they washed the oriental carpets. It was amazing- they brought them into the bathroom, unrolled them, showered them down, dusted on some laundry soap, scrubbed them with a detached broom head, and then squeegied them off with the bathroom squeegy and hung them from the balcony to dry. Uff they really needed to be cleaned so its great that she offered to do it and of course we’ll pay her more for it.

edit: ok pay her a lot more. I had no idea they ask so much for cleaning carpets… I dunno, I’ll have to ask Mr. MM about it when he gets home because I am completely out of credit and couldn’t call him to ask.

#3, mashAllah, cleans better than either of the maids before her. She does a really great job and I’m so thankful to have her.

Zuzu is scared witless by her though, its absolutely absurd. With maid #2, who was terrified of cats, Zuzu wanted to hang out and watch her clean, getting in the way as much as possible. I had to lock her in bedrooms and sometimes we’d have to chase her around the house in order to catch her to lock her in the room. Now? As soon as the door rings Zuzu poofs and disappears. I know her hiding spot so once I let #3 in I go and grab the cat, who hangs onto me for dear life with every single one of her twenty freaking claws, and when I get her into my bedroom she run for the back corner and hides there for the rest of the day even after #3 has left.

I just don’t get it. Deliverymen: she hangs out at the doorway; the Englyptian: she goes up to her and says hello and even sits on her lap!; other visitors: she is skittish but still comes around and checks everyone out; the sweet maid: senseless terror from the very first time. Zuzu didn’t even MEET #3, she just ran. Its so odd because I think #3 is sweet but cats have 6th senses so maybe I should be careful around the  maid.

Who knows.

Edit: I am also now missing something that would be VERY odd to steal. We use one of those long-handled plastic slotted cooking ladles to scoop kitty poop and its gone. I thought maybe she washed it and put it in the kitchen but its not there either. I have no idea and if she did take it thats a REALLY weird thing to take. I’m just curious, she has a cat at home herself, where does her cat poop? She doesn’t seem to understand the concept of the litterbox and she dumped trash into the box this morning. Not speaking Arabic is a huge hassle.

Hello Sweat Glands, It’s Been Awhile

1.) The day after I blog about how fabutastic spring in Egypt was it turns hot. Like hot, hot. Hot enough for me to walk around going ‘holy crap! its hot!’ However in reality it is only 1/10 of how hot it gets here in the summer. The weird thing about Egypt weather, that I’ve noticed at least, is that the weather changes in the middle of the night. Over the past month or so everytime the weather warmed up I noticed it at about midnight to 2 am. Its so odd to walk outside and think to yourself ‘is it really hotter now than it was at 4 pm?’

the cat just farted and it was horrible. i need to stop letting her lick my roz-bi-laban bowl.

Last night after I finished blogging and got ready for bed I passed by the window and felt the warmer than it was during the day air blow past me. I woke up this morning afternoon covered in sweat. Yummy. It just reminds me that I seriously need to be out of here before summer really kicks in because otherwise I might lose whatever weak hold I still have on my sanity. Let me repeat that: weak hold.

Unfortunately Mr. MM is really not fully on board the USA-train; yesterday he brought up the idea, once again, of staying here. He likes to switch up the reasons but this last one was the pig flu and the craptacular economy. He reasoned that neither of us are going to find jobs and we might die. (BTW I believe he was maybe probably kidding.) Just a few days ago he told me that one of his aunts was so desperate to keep him in Egypt that she offered to fund an English Education business for me. All mine; I’d manage and teach if I wanted to. The only thing is that I am not a business person and I am not interested in building a business (unless its selling FABULOUS clothes for Muslimahs in the States) and I am even less interested in staying here.

Things I would need to stay here:

  • A nice flat thats fully air-conditioned and that I don’t have to worry I’m going to be kicked out of.
  • A car.
  • A maid. (We usually have that now but the last one up and disappeared.)
  • I don’t have to work if I don’t want to. (I technically have that as well but any money I bring in gives us a good cushion.)

Life is Egypt is possible to get used to. If you so choose of course. Its like deciding that living with a schizophrenic roommate is do-able when in reality getting a new roommate would be so much better.

Two hours ago we had a goat going bat-sh*t outside our window.

Read that again, please.

A goat.

My first thought was: ‘is one of our neighbors having a sacrifice or did a goat just wander into our garden?’


Sure I can get used to tantrum-throwing farm animals, but do I want to?

To be honest I have softened my viewpoint of Egypt. I think by now that I have been so thoroughly bitten (quite literally over a million times by mosquitoes but thats not what I mean) by the Egypt-bug that I can never ever leave Egypt completely. The thought makes me homesick. Also I must admit that Egypt, Cairo especially, is such a fount of insanity-derived creative juice that I can’t not write. It drives me to writing; its my muse, so to speak.

But do I want to stay here now? No. Do I like the idea of coming back when Mr. MM has an American law degree and the ability to bring down big bucks? Definitely.

I like the idea of being a pampered housewife, ok whats another word I can use? Housewife implies things like cleaning, which are quite prominantly not in my fantasies. Ok, being a pampered writer who may or may not teach a class or two at the AUC but has all the time in the world to haunt coffee shops and write. I could do that. I’m not even high-maintenance so pampered doesn’t mean spiffy clothes and italian leather purses. But I would need a nanny. Hm… Mr. MM may not like that.

Anyways, I can iron those details out later.

I lost my train of thought, where was I?

Oh yes, Egypt. I could live here again, but in much different circumstances. Egypt is a place where it is hard to be anything less than rich. In most places money makes things easier but lets be honest: middle-class in the west is a-ok. Most people in Egypt scrape by at the level of poverty or below. Mr. MM and I are middle-class here, but for me middle-class Masri-style is a big step down from middle-class ala americani. Its hard.

So to come back here it would have to be with money and a good amount of it. Thankfully the exchange rate is pretty good so we wouldn’t have to have that much.

And what about life here? Yea, its tough. In fact things are snow-balling here (ok not literally, did I mention that its really hot?) in terms of living condition and social harmony. Everyone is feeling the pinch of poverty, unemployment, corruption, the disintigration of respect and social morality, and loss of love for your fellow man. A month or so ago I finally realized what it was exactly: they have nothing left to lose.

Mr. MM and I were driving to Alex and a young man literally stepped off of the curb and into oncoming traffic as if he didn’t care if he got hit. Not exactly suicidal but without a thought of the consequences. To everyone in Egypt who reads my blog: watch the people on the roads. They have nothing left to lose.

Young men heckle and harrass because once they finish their almost meaningless education in schools that don’t care about them and with teachers who take bribes or have a personal vendetta against them they only face a future of probable unemployment and no hope for marriage for at least another ten years. They have nothing left to lose.

Women walking down the streets in the hot sun with small children while carrying the weight-equivalent of another two small children on their heads decide to cross a free-way, dragging said small children behind them, dodging cars and making people slam on their breaks, when in reality there is a pedestrian bridge a matter of 1/5 mile up the road all because they have nothing to lose. Ok, maybe a couple of children. But they’re almost starving, unable to imagine how they’re going to feed themselves and their children for the next three days. They have nothing left to lose and so extending the effort it would take to carry their things and children that far just to cross safely doesn’t add up for them.

If things continue this way here I imagine that Egypt will crumble in ten years. Maybe less.

Egypt was a beatiful, safe, peaceful country 35 years ago. Fifty years ago Cairo is said to have rivaled Paris for beauty. I have hope that Egypt will be that way again someday. But not now.

Thanks Mubarak. Just putting that out there.

Did I mention its getting hot? I sure hope Mr. MM doesn’t decide that he can’t leave Egypt. I’d really be lonely without him. On the upside I have told him that if we are here in the summer I’m moving to Alex.

He thinks I’m kidding.

I’m not.

Hnh Wha?

Found while doing research for a door knocking campaign in the gulf region:

Major Oil Companies Operating in the Gulf Region

Now, does anyone see what makes me go “huh?”

Wtf does a list of Oil Companies in the Gulf Region have to do with a Jewish Virtual Library and a US-Israeli co-operative?

Now, I’m not really a conspiracy theorist but this just raises all sorts of them red flags. And before anyone gets riled-up about Jewish this or that– I would get suspicious if it were a Buddhist Virtual Library and a US-China co-operative.

But we all know the Isreali activities in the Middle East just make it that much more suspicious.

Of all the funny things to stumble over.

Fishy fishy fishy.

Shoo! Or wait, SHOE!

Did anyone else catch that the shoe-throwing journalist is a correspondant for a Cairo-based news program?


How much you wanna bet he’s not allowed back into Egypt? Mubarak doesn’t want anyone who is willing to throw things at Presidents elected by shady means.