Abstract Chatter

A Salute and Apology to the Egyptian People – Umm El Donnya (Mother of the World)
February 4, 2011, 1:03 pm
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A long waited apology is due to the people of Egypt as I’ve come to realize that my perception over the previous five years has been an erroneous one to say the least. My reality has shattered after watching the revolutionary events that have come out of Egypt, day after day. Each shard of glass that’s shattered represents a false understanding of my reality, and each piece is one that I hope to mend with a more accurate grounding in truth.

Being exposed to cat calls, sexual harassment, angry taxi drivers who haggled us from dawn to dusk, degrading and/or racist comments against anyone who wasn’t the perfect skin color, indifference to one’s land, repulsive acts of injustice against women, extreme Islamic ideology that required women to wear socks prior to entering a mosque, and cultural norms which prevented men from getting married at a reasonable age or societal norms which compelled women to get reconstructive surgery of the hymen to a “near virginity” state all left me in a state of disbelief and distress. After living in Cairo for a year from ‘05-‘06 (during Mubarak’s “election”), I left the country in a state of mental and physical exhaustion- utterly frustrated and disappointed.

The only thing that kept my sanity was knowing that I had within my possession, a ticket back to the states. I wanted to leave this experience behind me. To never think about the apathetic nature that people had for their country. I wanted to forget about every tear that trickled down my face as I attempted to understand a country with so many unexplainable complexities.

But I was misled. And the cause of this deception was an oppressive regime dominated by “President” Hosni Mubarak. I saw it. I felt it. Every waking moment was saturated with hypocrisy, coercion and cruelty from the government and its people. Did I feel oppressed because I was a foreigner who was used to the better things in life? Was I a spoiled American who couldn’t comprehend the difficulties faced by the average Egyptian? I’m sure my life as an American exacerbated my sense of oppression and perpetuated the disconnect I experienced with both the Egyptian people and my religion. But Mubarak’s presence as a dictator and his continued subjugation echoed behind every gust of wind. I wasn’t just being a sensitive American. Humanity, dignity and freedom were missing from the equation, and many of the offensive acts that I mentioned above were manifestations of such oppression. The pieces are now coming together as I read “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire. He states,

“the oppressed feel an irresistible attraction towards the oppressor and his way of life. Sharing his way of life becomes an overpowering aspiration. In their alienation, the oppressed want at any cost to resemble the oppressor, to imitate him, to follow him…who yearn to be equal to the “eminent” men of the upper class.”

This is no longer the case, and Egyptians have found the courage to demand back their freedom.

And now, five years later, I understand. At least, better than I understood before. I’d like to thank the veracity, fortitude, resilience and courage of the Egyptian people for helping me to come closer to a deeper and more accurate understanding of what they went through over the past 30 years.

I mistakenly directed my anger and frustration at individual people. I began to despise a religion that I once thought to be pure and unadulterated. It was not the people that I should have directed my frustration towards, but rather the top down control that was governed by Mubarak.

It is beautiful to see the continued energy that Egyptians have as they’ve awakened from their slumber, and as they continue fighting for their liberation. Freire states,

“in order for the oppressed to be able to wage the struggle for their liberation, they must perceive the reality of oppression not as a closed world from which there is no exit, but as a limiting situation they can transform.”

“As long as the oppressed remain unaware of the causes of their condition, they fatalistically “accept” their exploitation.”

It is quite evident that the Egyptian people will no longer be objects to his subjugation. They will no longer be dehumanized. Their humanity that was stolen from under them will be returned to the rightful owners.

There is a grand and difficult task ahead of the Egyptian people, as they must liberate not only themselves, but the oppressors as well.

There is a great “humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves.  Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both.”

The world stands side by side with you!  Freedom is just around the corner. And no tear drop or ounce of blood will be lost in vain.