A pink taxi

A pink taxi

February 5, 2011

Symbolic Egypt

World History classes begin in Egypt and that country inhabits our imagination from then, with its mummies and mysterious pyramids. The Arab world recognizes Egypt as "Umm al Dunya", which translates as "Mother of the World". My son's history chart reserves a very large slice to the Antiquity period, and specifically to Pharaonic history, leaving a  thin sliver to Modern history. We all know that Egyptian civilization brought with it the written word and has contributed tremendously to world civilizations. Today, the Egyptians are reclaiming that active role in history.

 As a child, my father would recount his love story with Egypt's Nasser. It was 1958, and my father was thirteen, enchanted by the man's charismatic ideology. Nasser was a post colonialist hero and he made an entire generation of youth proud to be part of the Arab world. This  feeling of pride in one's heritage has passed on to our generation and continues to linger with me till this day.

With respect to the gripping revolution taking place all over Egypt, I refuse to be a Cassandra, thinking up the worst case scenario. I will not point towards the Islamic Republic of Iran and forecast the same political fate for Egypt. These two countries have very little in common save their religion. Furthermore, 1979 was thirty- two years ago! Revolutions do not have all the same outcomes, especially three decades apart. Those who are revolting are different people from those Iranians of 1979, their desires stemming from a different place. Furthermore, the Iranians had a very charismatic leader in their revolt, the Ayatollah Khomeini. In Egypt's case, the Egyptians are united over one fact: ousting Hossni Mubarak. There isn't one mouvement that anybody can forecast will take over Egypt's leadership yet.

The current Egyptian millenium is one of globalization, technology, and large young urbanized population, who are on facebook and twitter. They are wired, informed and in search of a more dynamic lifestyle. Um Kulthoum and her laments are of a different era. 2011 will be marked in our historical annals. The Egyptian revolution is still nascent and the outcome is yet to be discovered. It is clear however, that a couple of weeks in Post Modern history can have the impact of years in modern history and decades in antiquity. The impact and the impulse of this revolution is very strong. Three million men and women strong!

I am confident that the Egyptians will take their destiny in their hands, and that they will manage to elect an appropriate leader. Why wouldn't they? They go back a few milleniums.....


  1. In less than 15 years,the mounting rhetoric of the July 1952 Egyptian revolution,had collapsed to be swallowed by the "Hazeema" or the Defeat of the Six-Day war with Israel in 1967.My generation was shocked,to wake up to the realities of the Game of Nations,and our feelings were replaced by cold realism and pragamatism.We silently gave in to the status quo of tight fist regimes that promised security,and no questions asked.
    Now ,almost 40 years later,the pendelum is swinging in the other direction,the Twitter and Facebook genertation decided that Enough was"Kifaya",and that the symbols of the status quo should go.The game of who will blink first is going on.Meanwhile the ordinary person in the street needs to feed his dependents,while the Pharoe is feeding the masses with small sacrifices of his cronies.

  2. Twitter and Facebook have provided young Arabs with a social network to freely criticize their leaders. Criticizing your parents, elders, and let alone your leader is the ultimate taboo in the Arab world. I pray more taboos will be broken and Arabs will learn to think for themselves.