Sunday, December 18, 2011

Letters from Egypt: US Embassy Refuses to Help a Jailed American

Register with the State Department, they say. For emergencies, contact such and such number, they say. What the US Embassy in Cairo doesn’t say: We will fail to help any American citizen in need unless it makes national headlines in the US and forces us to act accordingly.

Local news editor for Bikya Masr Joseph Mayton was arrested Saturday, December 17 and held and beaten for 14 hours. Mayton and his wife relocated to an apartment overlooking Tahrir Square. When Mayton’s wife contacted the US Embassy, they refused to help. Not at all surprising as the more I delve into the inner matters of my own embassy, the more I have to wonder if all or most of the employees put the keyword “incompetent” on their resume/CV to get an instant job.

“I called the Embassy – surprisingly they allowed me to keep my phone – and began a dialogue to have someone from the embassy come and have me released. They refused to do so, citing diplomatic issues between Washington and the Egyptian security forces as well as the security situation on the street outside. I was angry at my government.

Repeatedly, Embassy officials said they could not come and retrieve me due to the security officer at the embassy banning all personnel from being near the scene. I was perturbed, considering the American Embassy is, literally, on the opposite side of the street approximately 100 meters from where I was being held.

By early afternoon, a Hungarian national, Mark Fodor, was also brought in, also for taking photos at the same spot I was detained. He contacted his Embassy and the ball was rolling. By around 9 PM the Hungarian Counsel was en route to take him from detention. I was livid, angry that my embassy was telling me they “have to go through the proper channels and were doing all they could to have me released.” Two military officers had specifically told Embassy officials on the phone that to have me released, an embassy employee had to come get me. They never came and even told me that I would have to stay the night until the morning.

Fodor was released when the Embassy official arrived and I remained in my seat, waiting and hoping they would tire of my presence. It was cold and after Fodor – who I had conversed with throughout the afternoon and early evening – was gone, I was digging in for a night in the small, pitch black room.

Somehow, approximately 30 minutes after Fodor was freed, two soldiers came into the room, asked me if I knew how to get home and took me to a side street outside and let me go. It was a strange turn of events, but I had been freed.”

The US Embassy sent an email to employees yesterday instructing them to avoid downtown and the 6th of October bridge. Those of us registered with the State Department have failed to see anything in regards to the recent clashes. If so, it must have mysteriously skipped my inbox although I received two emails today discussing the upcoming presidential elections in the US.

I will admit that as a journalist, you are aware that you may be compromised for trying to get the story out. And this is not anyone’s responsibility but your own; however, it’s unnerving that if you do contact the embassy, it refuses to get involved although the government institution has no qualms about appearing as though it actually cares. This was my point in the blog: US Citizens Left Behind by US Government. Another detail is that the Hungarian national that was jailed for the same violation as Mayton had immediate help. Then again, you do need to take into account how many Hungarians that are located in Egypt as opposed to Americans. However, a friend of mine working for the New Zealand Embassy told me that during the revolution, three Fox News journalists were detained, a New Zealander, Canadian and American. The NZ Embassy helped facilitate the release of all three.

There are other variables to consider, but then there are other stories that need to be highlighted. Such as the lack of an appropriate crisis management or evacuation plan during the January 25 revolution. The more I check into the ongoings at the US Embassy, the more I question the real work being conducted at the government facility.

A former military officer working for the embassy confessed to me in October that alcohol was prevalent in many offices with on-the-clock drinking occurring regularly. Even more shocking, one Lt. Col. accessed personnel files in order to contact spouses in the US to make aware that their counterparts in Egypt were having an affair (this after the Lt. Col. made several advances to the subordinate). Unacceptable and a violation on numerous accounts. You have time to access personnel records for personal agendas, but you fail to have time to help American citizens living abroad?

What’s even funnier is that I visited a place a couple of months ago that only allowed Americans and it happened to be full of US Embassy employees. One US Embassy official was speaking with another man saying that the ineptitude of the Embassy during the revolution was another department’s fault. He said, “It’s not the Embassy’s fault, it’s those State Department guys.” The blame game is not just an Egyptian trait.

So why would I ever assume that the embassy is capable of providing help when clearly more important matters are the priority of the so-called agenda. You will notice that the only reason the embassy got involved in the three American college students detained for throwing Molotov cocktails was because the US media had a field day with the story. When in actuality, that should have been the time that they were not involved. Mayton was trying to get a story, he wasn’t inciting violence. “Diplomatic issues between Washington and the Egyptian security forces” prevented the US Embassy from helping him but allowed them to help three college students who threw Molotov cocktails? Needed: a functioning brain at the US Embassy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Buy Egyptian

“Next Friday 16-12-2011 is Buy Egyptian Products day. Please don’t buy anything other than Made in Egypt, this is only for one day and it will have a great impact on economy. Plz spread n be positive :)”
-Facebook Group Buy Egyptian

Great idea, but I’m sure you’re thinking, “What is actually made in Egypt?” Let’s look at the products that you can buy (and some reports are that they will be discounted):

  • Bad food that result in an amazing weight loss regime with workout included (running to the bathroom for dear life helps shed those unwanted pounds)
  • All you can pick up trash/rubbish. There’s plenty to go around
  • That random sandal that you happened to trip over while walking to a cab; however, it is up to you to find its partner which always seems elusive
  • Skin bleach because the scars afterwards are an added bonus
  • My bowab’s children
  • New taxi meters that have been tampered with to speed up costs

Disclaimer: All purchases are final, but for any product that seems to have problems functioning, there will be duct tape and silicon provided to help repair damages.

In all honesty, most of the products you’re going to find are manufactured in Dubai. The first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is Egyptian cotton. Did you know that the high quality is actually sent abroad and the rest is sold in Egypt at triple the prices that you would pay in places like the US? Unlike going to buy jade in China and silk in India where prices are much cheaper since it’s the place of origin, it would be less expensive for you to purchase 100% Egyptian cotton sheets at TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and the like in the US.

This is applicable across the board. Most of the products made in Egypt that are of somewhat decent quality are shipped abroad with damaged or not as efficient products remaining behind (undoubtedly the items that didn’t pass the quality control). There are very few products that come with the tag “Made in Egypt” that is enticing. Buying any appliance which could be made here will only result in buying a new one a month later.

Better said, a product “Made in Egypt” carries the “Made in China” stigma. The only difference: the Chinese factories are in production 24/7. Egypt is only at 40% capacity currently and meets quota almost never on the few products that it does make – protests or not.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Female Circumcision on the Rise after Mubarak

Badour Shakar died after an illegal circumcision was performed in Upper Egypt, and she became the poster child for the stop of FGM in Egypt. Source: AP
While many people are concerned with reports that Islamists have taken the majority of seats in Egypt’s most recent parliamentary elections, another scary realization has also occurred post-revolution. Female genital mutilation (FGM) – also known as female circumcision – has increased since Hosni Mubarak stepped down from leadership.

FGM is the removal of all or part of a female’s genitalia (primarily the clitoris) for cultural or other non-medical reasons, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). There are many reasons that this could take place, but the main belief in the Islamic world is to control a woman’s sexuality – thought to ensure virginity before and fidelity after marriage – and increase a man’s sexual pleasure.

In 1997, Egypt made the practice illegal except in certain circumstances (I really wish I knew the criteria because personally, I can’t imagine there being one); however, after the death of a 12-year old girl, Badour Shaker in June 2007, the Egyptian government banned the practice entirely unless administered by an accredited medical facility. Shaker died after undergoing the FGM operation in a private clinic in Minya, Upper Egypt, and then followed by a 13-year old in the village of Gharbiya.

Unicef predicted that the practice of FGM would decline over time from its 2005 levels of 77% among girls age 15-17 to around 60%. The organization undoubtedly didn’t see a revolution or its damaging effects on such projections. Although the Al-Azhar Supreme Council for Islamic Research – the highest religious authority in Egypt – issued a statement explaining that FGM had no basis in the core of Islamic Sharia or any of its partial provisions. Dar el Ifta, the authority issuing Fatwas (legal opinions issued by Islamic scholars) issued a Fatwa that condemned the practice.

Wife of former leader, Suzanne Mubarak stood firm against FGM and announced the amendment of the Child Law banning FGM. Naturally with the change in regime, the lawyer and head of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights Nihad Abu Kumsan said that Suzanne Mubarak was only involved in the fight against FGM for self-promotional purposes. "She was devoid of a feminist vision or a socialist vision," Kumsan claimed. Call me crazy but even if that were true, at least she stood for something worthwhile that is harmful and damaging to young girls throughout the country (and other parts of the world).

Unicef created an abandonment program, which was supported by USAID, with a total budget of  $1.6 million from 2002-2007 (although with placing the blame game on the US for its manufacturing of tear gas, many Egyptians fail to remember the financial aid it receives for programs such as this).

The US magazine, The New Republic, reported that the fight to stop girls from being circumcised in the country has decreased since the revolution due to a lack of funds. The report said that from a 2008 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey, 91% of all women between the ages of 15 and 49 had been mutilated. What’s even more so is a comparison that less-advanced Senegal (located in West Africa) has seen more progress in the fight to stop FGM after several thousand villages have pledged never to circumcise females again.

I didn’t believe that Egypt had such a high ratio of female circumcision, and I had asked several of my female friends. Unfortunately, for many women that have been circumcised, they do not know any different and are unable to tell you if the procedure has in fact taken place.

Suggested Reading:

by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Election Update & Procedures

Source: The Telegraph
This just in: Muslim Brotherhood winning in Egypt’s Parliamentary elections BUT hold on, guess who the source is? The Muslim Brotherhood (MB). How would the MB know that they’ve reportedly secured 40% of the vote when a) other governorates have yet to vote b) no official representative has released the results so far and c) run-offs for individual seats will take place later?

So please, for all of you posting articles touting these claims, remember to look at the initial source. The UK’s Telegraph reported that a member of the Egyptian Bloc said that in Cairo, one area that voted on Monday and Tuesday, had 40-50% of the votes going to the MB and 20-30% of the votes going to the Egyptian Bloc. Hmmmm…

The election is spread over six weeks encompassing three phases, followed by  run-off.

First, you need to understand how the voting works – which is absurdly confusing, but remember, it is the first “democratically-held” elections ever. There are some highly organized parts though. Like in the US, registered Egyptian voters are required to vote in a certain district. To find out which precinct a voter is registered, (s)he may call 140 to find out the exact location and voter registration number which allows voters to bypass the sometimes lengthy lists to find name and number and/or location.

There are two sheets of paper full of candidates representing the district. An appointed judge is only individual that is allowed to administer the ballots. Once the voter has given their registration number and is handed the ballot, (s)he marks their choices via a cubicle-type desk and then dips their finger in a special ink to seal. Once the polling station is closed for the evening, the judge uses red wax to lock down the votes with the military guarding throughout the night. This could be seen as suspect and easy for military personnel to stuff ballot boxes although military nor police are eligible to vote; however, keep in mind that it is the FIRST time for this procedure to take place.

The fear of the MB becoming the ruling party has my Facebook newsfeed full of pictures depicting a Saudi-type Cairo with women all wearing the full niqab. The stories from many Egyptians that I spoke to regarding voting said the process was lengthy, but without problems. As detailed in an earlier post, stories of buying votes for a particular party have been running rampant. I cannot confirm this, but I will say that I met up with a group of individuals Monday night at a café in Maadi and was pleasantly surprised.

One of the photos in my Facebook newsfeed depicting the change of women if the MB takes control
Most of my friends voted for the Free Egyptian party (symbol: eye), the most liberal party in the running. Then again, do you think many people that are very conservative necessarily associate with me? That being said, throughout the world, voters in a metropolis are known for being more liberal than those from smaller cities (New York state is known for voting primarily for Democrats while Mississippi is conservative voting mostly Republican) so I think that the majority of votes in Cairo and Alexandria can undoubtedly be expected to have a more liberal outcome than areas like those in the Suez governorate.

While accompanying a male Egyptian friend of mine at the café, I was introduced to the table that was composed of four men and two other females (a Christian and a veiled Muslim). After awhile talking about each person’s voting experience, many left to return home leaving my friend and I sitting around discussing everything. He told me, “The guy sitting by the female is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.” I was shocked. First of all, I was under this impression that all MBs were prejudice against women, particularly foreigners. While I didn’t have a complete conversation with him, he was seated next to the Christian woman and was extremely polite to me when I introduced myself. One of my other Egyptian friends informed me that he, too, had a good friend that was affiliated with the MB.

The modern MB is taking on a completely different look from what it used to be, possibly to acquire younger members. My friend said, “You would have no idea that my friend was a member of the MB, he’s completely normal without a beard, cultured and polite.” You might think this sounds ignorant, but I guarantee that many of you who have never met someone in the MB had the same preconceived notions I did (that doesn’t mean that I agree with their ideology by any means). I had another Egyptian friend tell me last night that while she didn’t agree with the MB, had to say that their spokesperson was attractive. Sounds to me like the MB had some classes on changing their image and are doing just that, even if their fundamental goals remain the same.

The main point is, so far the elections seem to be running smoothly, but that isn’t to discount the potential uprisings that could occur once the results are announced in January. The other point I want to make is that no one is able to give an approximate percentage of votes for a specific party at this time.

As my father always said: Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Tales from Voting Precincts

Camera is dead, so this was taken via my mobile outside Victoria College in Maadi
As I was walking to Costa coffee this morning near the Grand Mall, I saw a line composed of all females wrapped around the corner from Victoria College with military personnel standing guard. Women lined up along the front, while men were kept in a different area in case tensions escalated and to combat harassment.

Voting stations are open from 8 am until 7 pm, but have been extended to 9 pm.  At the polling station off of Road 9 in Maadi, one voter told me he stayed for seven hours (his choices varied, but he did say he picked the party symbol, eye). He said, “It’s the first time for me to vote so it’s quite an experience for me.” The ballots are brought to each voting area via a judge, but the judge at this precinct was late. “We waited for the judge for three hours because he has all the documents and is in charge of opening the documents.” He continued to say that when he first arrived, shortly after 7 am, no staff was present eventually all arriving alongside the tardy judge. “Everyone had [the chance] to say his vote and it was really nice, but maybe this is only Maadi.” Please note that Maadi is considered one of the best areas in Cairo, and has the highest concentration of foreigners in addition to a more liberal viewpoint from locals residing in the area

One voter told me he had stood in line from 7:00 am to 9:30 am to mark his ballot (he picked the parties that were represented by the banana, eye and toothbrush). He noted that this time around was better than the referendum voting which took place in March. The referendum in March had many discrepancies, including one source telling me that while her illiterate mother with only a grammar school education had people in line telling her that a vote for no was a vote for the Christians. She voted yes to the referendum to avoid the 'Christian' outcome.

Today’s vote was more organized, but inside the polling stations suffered. However, it is important to note that in a country with a large population like Egypt that has been under dictator rule for over 30 years, complete organization is going to be a long way off. Standing in line took awhile so once inside, there are different lines for voting which were ambiguous according to my source. Many people would wait in the line they thought was correct only to be told they must relocate.

There have been rumors that voters were solicited with cash to cast their ballots in favor of a certain party. I cannot confirm this so I refuse to mention the party associated with this rumor, but I will say that this is to be expected: allegations toward certain political parties that continue to unnecessarily flood the rumor mill. If you can’t confirm it, no need in spreading it.

Another source of mine said he woke up late and is waiting to place his vote tomorrow at a precinct outside of Maadi. He will vote for the Free Egyptian party (Al-Masriyeen al-Ahrrar) which also seems to be a favorite based on its leader, Naguib Sawiris. Sawiris, a Coptic Christian, is a telecommunications mogul that has expressed that his party is open to everyone despite religious orientation. The party believes in a separation between religion and government, women's rights and overall equality. The party supports competitive bidding for government contracts, minimum wage and the expansion of microfinancing programs and implementing tax credits for Zakat and tithe to reward social cooperation (which I believe is similar to the US: allowing religious institutions to be exempt from paying taxes).

I will update this as I speak with others about their experiences from outside of Maadi, so make sure to check back periodically.

Letters from Egypt: How Illiterate Egypt Votes

Parliamentary elections started this morning in Cairo and other select governorates in Egypt with crowds swelling by the minute to cast their vote. I will update this blog throughout the day as I receive more stories from those who have gone to vote, but first I want to highlight campaign signs and parties/alliances.
If you are in Egypt, particularly Cairo and Alexandria, you will notice the campaign signs in abundance in all the squares (medans). Look closely and you will see symbols on each of them that include guitar, strawberry, eye, toothbrush, banana, etc. These symbols represent a particular party and help the high number of illiterate Egyptians vote via symbol association.

With a population of over 82 million people, one in every four Egyptians is illiterate and nearly 17 million adult Egyptians can neither read nor write according to 2010 government statistics.  There are several parties and alliances that have cropped up after the overthrow of long-time leader Hosni Mubarak. While this blog isn’t long enough to list all of those parties and alliances, you may go to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to gain a more in depth look at Egypt and all its political glory. In the meantime, I am only going to list the main parties, symbols and alliances.

*Please note I’ve only highlighted main points, for a more detailed view please visit the Carnegie website and/or each party’s site*

Al Wafd (Delegation Party)
Symbol: Palm Tree
The Wafd party succeeded a once powerful organization disbanded by former president Nasser in 1952. The party has many stances in three areas: political, socio-economical and foreign policy. It would appear that the Wafd party has taken a US history book and molded its policies like imposing a two-term limit on presidency, enforcing a separation of power among three branches (the US has executive, legislative and judiciary branches) and also giving the parliament the right to accept or veto any bill without presidential approval. Other stances include a stop on monopolies, deregulating the banking industry and educational reform (although the step-by-step process is not defined, just like all contending parties).

Most of the Wafd’s foreign policy is directed at the US and Israel. The party claims it will respect all international agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israelis, but it will pressure Israel “through all means” to withdraw from occupied territories while rejecting the “US bias toward Israel”. In addition, the strategic alliance between the US and Egypt will remain strong but will be realigned, according to the party, to reflect a more “balance of interests.” Wafd also seeks to reappropriate the aid coming from the US, saying that currently the use of US aid to Egypt since the peace treaty of 1979 is only to serve the US and Israel. And lastly, it will force the US to announce a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Al Hurriyya wa al-‘Adala (Freedom and Justice Party)
Symbol: Scales
This party is the political faction of the Muslim Brotherhood, formed in May 2011, and is the top Islamist party in Egypt. With all the controversy and leeriness surrounding the group, it formed the Democratic Alliance with other liberal parties. It supports Sharia, or Islamic law, although it says that it supports a civil state not run by the military or a theocracy. This statement is contradictory as the party wishes to use Islamic law as a determinate to all legislation, which would indicate a theocratic government. The party does say it will support women’s rights by passing legislation that criminalizes favoritism towards men. Socio-economic policies include eliminating poverty, unemployment, fraud/corruption and monopolies; spreading and deepening the concepts and values of Islamic law throughout Egypt; and raising the standards of education and scientific research.

Unlike the Wafd party, the faction has strayed away from specifically naming the US in its foreign policy issues which include securing the sources of the Nile River. A colonial era treaty in 1959 gave Egypt 87% control over the Nile with the remaining 13% going to Sudan, and now controversy shrouds the pact as Ethiopia is forging ahead to build the Millennium Dam and a Nile Basin Initiative was signed excluding Egypt and Sudan. The Freedom and Justice party also seeks to confront the “aggressive and expansionist Zionist party” upholding peace treaties only IF passed by a referendum voted on by Egyptian citizens. It supports the Palestinian right to self-determination, including the right of return for all refugees (CIA World Factbook notes that in 2007, Egypt had 70,198 Palestinian refugees). And interestingly enough, the party wishes to have a public release of all national security documents after 25 years.

Al-Nour (Light Party)
Symbol: Lantern
The Nour party, which is one of the most Islamic parties, represents the conservative Islamic faction known as Salafi. It was a member of the Democratic Alliance, but left and founded the Islamist Alliance. It supports Islam as the country’s religion and also the implementation of Sharia, preserving fundamental rights and freedoms in correlation to the framework of Islamic law. Similar to the Wafd party, it supports a three-prong system including a separation of executive, legislative and judicial branches. The party supports the complete independence of al-Azhar from the government and restoring its prominent role throughout the Islamic world; however, it also supports religious freedom and personal status laws for non-Muslims.

For foreign policy, only two issues are outlined: funding foreign relations on mutual respect and equality and a greater role for Egypt in the Arab world as well as among Nile Basin countries – particularly Sudan.

While photos were hard to obtain via the party website, videos were abundant. In the video that I will attempt to embed (if not working, please click the You Tube hyperlink), the party describes what it will do if elected touching on the Islamic society, education and separation of al-Azhar (that is the best English translation I can provide, sorry my Arabic is limited). 

Other symbols for political parties include a briefcase, crocodile, fork, guitar, tennis racket, toothbrush, umbrella and many MANY more. As previously stated, this blog isn't long enough, you would lose interest and I've provided all the necessary links for further research at your discretion. While using symbols for illiterate individuals is nothing new in Egypt, I do find the exact symbols and overall concept interesting.

Next up: Tales from the Voting Precincts

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Letters from Egypt: AUC Professor’s Thoughts on Tahrir

Source: Happier Abroad
“I believe the army should rule for five years with a plan to integrate civil structure. During this period, there should be an educational mechanism to define the term democracy.”

Words spoken by a friend of mine, a professor at the American University in Cairo (AUC).  I met Samir* at a café last night and naturally the main topic of discussion was the escalation of events in Tahrir Square. Many of his students have taken to the Square to protest, jumping on the bandwagon according to him. However, there is another side too.

“Many believe in the revolution, but not the execution,” he said adding that some students that are committed to the protest have either been victimized or are taking up for fellow students. Samir is forced to continue going to the Katamaya campus as classes are still in session despite little to no attendance. Unfortunately, without students, he is left sitting in his office biding his time.

On November 20, a rumor circulated around AUC that a curfew was going to be implemented at 4 pm local time. This caused many to avoid the campus altogether; although Samir admits that any excuse to get out of class is common. I was a college student once, I remember that vividly. Thursday is a holiday (Thanksgiving) with Saturday meant to hold compensation classes; however, now that is cancelled. Monday was proclaimed another holiday in light of the elections, but everyone is now anticipating Sunday classes to be cancelled. Even if classes are not officially cancelled, the likelihood that students will attend is slim.

Samir’s idea about military rule with the integrated plan of civil rule is a good point. It would give the political parties time to properly organize their campaigns while a temporary constitution, mandated by the military, could be established. I am not suggesting that the military take full control with a working constitution set for a 30-year limit before review. I’m saying that the military could take control over the immediate constitutional reforms like term limits, political party stipulations and candidacy guidelines, establish a proper voting technique (the UN spent an estimated $400 million on state-of-the-art biometric IDs in Cote d’Ivoire) – all of which will help prepare for a proper voting system. While nothing will ever be 100% transparent, this would give time for methods to ensure accuracy and as much transparency possible to take place.  After the elections, then the new government would be in charge of creating a new constitution to reflect upon the ideals and goals among the Egyptian people.

The Egyptian military is a business venture already, so why not let them handle the economy for five years until civilian rule is implemented? The military’s exact assets are confidential, but estimates run at about 5-45% of Egypt’s total economy. Am I suggesting the military is honest? Not by any means, but the way I view it as of now and others may agree, there is not a viable leadership option for Egypt at this time. The country needs to regroup, figure out its ultimate goal, and one of the most important issues: establishing a step-by-step policy toward educational reform.

Many say that the military council has “prolonged the transition to democracy.”  And this goes back to the education – even for the university students. Others watch MTV Arabia which televises shows like “My Super Sweet 16” and instantly think that the US, which in their minds represents democracy, is full of 15 and 16-year olds all receiving a nice new Porsche and flying to Paris to get a dress for the million-dollar party. Little work and all money is the image that comes across, but that isn’t democracy. Some will tell you that democracy means to them freedom, mainly freedom to express themselves via media and the like. However, that’s not entirely true either. It’s one part, but there are many things that the US had to work for and continuously needs to work on. No country is without flaws and that includes the US.

One Egyptian friend of mine told me that one reason she liked the US was because we were allowed to be whatever we wanted. She said that in school here, people just tell you what you’re going to be; however, in the US if you decide you want to fly helicopters, you can make that dream a reality.

The important thing to note is that Egyptians are saying that the military has halted the country’s transition into democracy, but democracy can’t happen in six to 10 months. It has to evolve and the only way it can begin to evolve is to teach others the meaning. But Egypt needs to find its own meaning. You can’t take a system from another country and expect it to work for you, it needs to be modified to fit the needs and demands of those inside the country.

Samir added, “Running around like headless chickens throwing bricks isn’t the right way to establish democracy. If I went to a zoo, monkeys would behave better.”

*denotes name change to protect anonymity