On his blog “Felix Arabia”, Sultan Al Qassemi has posted some utterly depressing observations on life in post-revolutionary Cairo – the kind of life the majority of Egyptians live away from media crews looking for stories that fit the latest news trends. The post is simply entitled “Observations from Cairo,” but at the end of the piece, there is a line that would provide a fitting subtitle: “Broken souls wither away in the useless drag of another day.”
Below a few excerpts – but the full post is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how dire Egypt’s situation is.
Living in Cairo for most of 2011, I discovered that the political revolution alone is cosmetic in significance relative to the underlying dysfunction within society. Walking through the streets of Cairo or sitting by its riverbanks one comes across a plethora of garbage. Littering has even infected the upper class. I saw a young man tossing his empty box of cigarettes into the Nile while on a yacht cruise. In allegedly upscale neighborhoods such as Zamalek you find no relief from the sea of accumulated trash on the street. Rubbish, dirt, broken poles, parked cars, trees, and fragmented bricks can be found obstructing almost every sidewalk. […] Crossing the country you notice the problem is not Cairo’s alone. Garbage is a permanent fixture in the landscapes of other cities and towns. Desensitization to uncleanliness is endemic across the country.
The level of religiosity is surreal. Virtually the entire population possesses an unshakable conviction and belief in supernatural powers. There is no conversation around whether an alternative perspective may exist. The average citizen has never met an atheist or a Jew, and most have never had someone meaningfully press them on their beliefs or suggest that their beliefs might be wrong or contain fallacies. This goes for all segments of society. The most progressive try to develop liberal interpretations of religion that make life more manageable, but none are able to shed themselves entirely of religious belief. In fact, religious ideas are so engrained that it is virtually impossible for anyone to view them as a burden.
Even when you look at the Christian communities, where you might expect to find more relaxed or diverse views, you discover the same fierce religiosity and unequivocal belief in the supernatural. The unchecked conviction has little to do with the underlying content of the ideas but with the unquestioned way by which religious ideas are formulated. There is a clear intolerance to Jews, atheists, homosexuals, or anyone who stars as an antagonist in the various vivid conspiracy theories that most buy into. […]
Life in Egypt could be very different if its military hadn’t pretended for the past 30 years that it needed to be ready for war with Israel, and if its elites had not so eagerly opposed any “normalization” with Israel. Sadly, there is no reason to hope that things will change in the wake of the “Arab Spring”: Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English website, has an article from last January entitled: “Of course, Israel is Egypt’s enemy.” Here are some excerpts, but the whole thing is worthwhile reading for anyone ready to give up illusions about Muslim Brotherhood “moderation” – the vicious ideological hostility that is expressed in the piece can only be compared to attitudes found on the far-left and far-right fringes in the West.
Some Israeli officials have voiced surprise at revelations published by Wikileaks showing that the Egyptian military continues to view the apartheid Israeli regime as the primary strategic threat facing Egypt.
This is despite the passage of more than 30 years since the signing of the Camp David peace treaty between the two states in 1979.
According to the revelations, American diplomats have been frustrated as the Egyptian army continued to retain the erstwhile military doctrine which viewed Israel as the enemy. […]
Well, it is an expression of daring audacity on the part of these arrogant American diplomats to expect the sons of Egypt to morph themselves into Israel lovers and forget the tens of thousands of Egyptians, civilians and servicemen, who were murdered by Israel.
The Egyptian people are not about to forget the massacres of Bahr el Bagar school, the Abu Za’abal factory, and the massacre of Egyptian POWs at the instruction of Ariel Sharon in addition to the indiscriminate bombings of Egyptian civilian areas during the so-called war of attrition prior to the 1973 war.
It is true that Egypt , mainly due to economic and other reasons, had to sign the infamous peace treaty at Camp David, which only formally ended the state of belligerency between Israel and largest and most powerful Arab country. But it is also true that the vast majority of Egyptians continued to hate Israel as a hostile and criminal entity despite all American inducements and bribes to create good chemistry between Egyptians and Israelis.
In the final analysis, it would be a form of morbid imagination to expect Egyptians, who nearly on a daily basis watch Zionist thugs and terrorists murder, terrorize and savage their coreligionists and brethren in Palestine and destroy their homes, bulldoze their farms, and expel them form [sic!] their places of residence.
It is morbid imagination to expect members of the Egyptian armed forces to fall in love with the killers of their fathers and forefathers who fell in battle with Zionism on Palestinian and Egyptian soils.
It is even more morbid to expect the Egyptian armed forces to abandon their old doctrine and adopt a new one based on the unnatural and mendacious assumption which views other Arabs and Muslims, not Israel, which usurped Palestine and expelled its people to the four corners of the world, as the enemy.
Egypt and its kind-hearted people may not be going through the best of times. But what is in the heart is in the heart, and no amount of Kafkaesque metamorphosis would succeed in deviating the needle of the Egyptian people’s compass away from its natural direction. […]
It seems quite “morbid” to me to imagine more of the same old, same old for the “new” Egypt, but apparently, Egyptians can’t imagine anything else.