Monday, 30 May 2011

Insane Marriage Rites: A Case of The Need for a Cultural Revolution

Note: I originally wrote and posted this on facebook on Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 3:20am

I have modified and added a few parts to it. But it serves as an example of why we not only need a political and economical revolution, but a cultural one as well. I'm sure I'll eventually post more examples.

I honestly believe the above image had a role in leading to the January 25th 2011 revolution. With people realizing this is what they might end up doing, They can do some crazy things. Further proven by people celebrating after Mubarak stepped down saying "Hanetgawez Hanetgawez" (We will marry, we will marry) , or a guy innocently asking his father "Does this mean I can finally get married?" as quoted by this article : "Amidst the shouts of youth claiming a new hope for a family life that has been otherwise economically impossible for them in the dire conditions of Mubarak’s regime, protesters in the streets joyfully exclaimed after he stepped down, “We will marry, we will have children!”

Remember, most of the world doesn't require these rites, and they function just fine.

So I'm going to say it.
All of what I’m going to say next is on most if not all of your minds (If you're an Egyptian), you think it, and you believe it.
But very few of you are willing to say it for whatever reason. So I’ll just say it.

I find the entire concept of marriage rites here in Egypt frankly retarded. And I don't mean the silly weddings, the retarded cake feeding, and all that silly stuff. I mean the rites leading up to that point.

The major point? Money. Lots and lots of money. As a male of my social standing wanting to get married in Egypt (To an Egyptian),you're looking at needing a bare minimum of 580k Egyptian pounds (around 100k$) just to get married. No one and I mean NO one can afford that on their starting salary unless their parents hook them up, they win the lottery, or they create something so amazing, or they land an acting job or something in a major movie.

Now let me put it this way, for someone of my education (college graduate from a "prestigious" university, fluent in two languages perfectly...etc), 3000 L.E (Egyptian Pounds) a month (around 500$) is considered a good/great starting salary. That means I would require roughly 194 times my starting salary just to get married. That's assuming I have no expenses, pay no taxes, and save every last piaster (Egyptian version of a cent) made. 

Keep in mind that ratio is roughly more or less the same even if the numbers differ, when you go up or down the social/economical scale. Roughly 194 times your starting salary. Raises when available are around 10% a year. Promotions are not frequent enough. Does that sound reasonable to you?

So tell me, what's the point of these insane financial requirements asked of the males? Is it to prove that the man is worthy of your daughter's hand? Are you selling your daughter? Is your daughter worth 580k+ to you? Besides, how is getting that sum proof that the male is worthy of your daughter, when it's not even his hard earned money. What is the point of these crippling requirements? To assure your daughter has a good life? What if this rich fellow is a spoiled angry wife beater, cheater, alcoholic, drug addict...etc that knew how to hide all that until after marriage? Is that really better for your daughter than the guy of modest means that would've taken extremely good care of her and loved her more than anything? Sure they would struggle a bit, but in the long run it would've been better.

And even if it WAS his hard earned money (probably at age forty something at that rate) would it not be more beneficial for the couple to use that money in other forms? Besides, could not the rich man in a day lose all his money? Then what happens to your daughter then? How then have you secured her future?

Besides, why is marrying your daughter worth that much anyway? What makes her worth more than the man? We're in the age of equality, why don't I see females paying 580k+ to marry a guy without being stigmatized (although personally I’d feel emasculated if I were that guy I guess). I don't condone this, but is marriage not a union, a team, a couple, a partnership?

Is the mentality behind this mindset largely due to the patriarchal mentality of women being helpless?

Not that I don't understand the mentality behind this line of reasoning from parents in Egypt (And marrying without parental acceptance in Egypt? Yeah, Good luck on that, it rarely, if ever happens) , with high real estate costs, high rent, rising prices, high turnover...etc it's no wonder that these parents want to make sure their daughter is "Safe", But that's all it is, There's nothing in religion (Be it Islam or Coptic Christianity) to encourage this type of behavior, or even support it, and in fact, these requirements don't really lead to any real "safety" for their daughter.

You know what these requirements lead to (if the man is the one that earned the money)? Bitter men with a sense of entitlement. Very Bitter. They feel they're the ones that did everything and the females got everything without effort or working for it. Which Leads to a mentality of "I'm the one doing everything, you've done nothing. What are you complaining about" when facing spousal disagreements or all out fights. And while I personally would not feel that way, I’m sorry to say, they’re not entirely to blame for feeling that way. Would you honestly not feel the same? If you answered “No” you’re either lying, or a rare person, welcome to either club.

But tell me, could a male feel superior to the female if they reached whatever point they reached, side by side, suffering and working together towards their goals? He could, but it would be because of his own internal issues, not because the circumstances forced upon him which led him to feel this way.
Partners, Sports teams and teams in general build a bond of "we did this together"; going through hardships together creates a very strong bond. So why would you not want the same concept applied to the marriage of your daughter?

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, parents that give their daughter to the one that loves and cares for her, no matter what his own means, instead of giving her to the rich guy. Or men from modest means, that appear to love your daughter but are mainly assholes, or men from rich families that are really good decent guys that understand the value of your daughter.

But at the end the point is, why not use your brain instead of your calculator?

And not that marriage or even love is all about sex, and in absolutely no way am I excusing sexual harassment, but in a society with dismal sexual education, a society that considers sex outside of wedlock to be one of the, if not the most horrible of sins, as a public opinion case shows, to the point of subjecting young girls to FGM (Female Genital mutilation) even though it's outlawed  even though there have been public awareness campaigns to ban it, as well as it being incorrect religiously, is it any wonder that we have such a large sexual harassment epidemic, or that large numbers of youth resort to "illegal" "Urfi" marriages?
I mean after all, is it not a basic need to be able to love, marry and fornicate? 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Egyptian Guide on How to Lose a country in 10 days

....Give or take a few weeks, we are Egyptians after all.

V for Vendetta: The Dominoes Fall

I've been postponing writing this blog post for multiple reasons, but honestly, enough is enough. I tend to think of myself as a "Big picture" kind of person, that doesn't mean I always know the big picture, just that I try my best to see it.

I said this a few days ago, we're on the cusp of something big, good or bad, we're at the cusp of something big, and we must remain vigilant. Which made me all the more surprised that Alaa El Asawani more or less said the same thing during an interview today.

I'm going to try to not get all "wordy" and such, so I'll try to keep this direct and to the point.

What were some of the methods and factors used by the Mubarak regime to distract people from their real issues and control them?:

  1. Football (Soccer for my American readers) and namely the Ahly-Zamalek (and later on Ismailey) "Wars"
  2. Sectarian Strife ( Mubarak claimed he "protected" us from it. )
  3. Celebrity news and scandals turned into public opinion issues. (And yes I still think Fishawy is one of the biggest scumbags to walk this planet, Hind you're still one of my heroes.) 
  4. The Palestine-Israel issue. (Keep people angry at Israel so they don't focus on you)
  5. Terrorist threats , and terrorist sympathizers (Again before anyone gets any ideas, we're talking a few hundred in a country of 90 million, which isn't even a statistic) again and again (Again Mubarak claimed he "protected" us from it.)
  6. Religion (Yes I realize it's Cliche but it's true)
And the sad thing is, those things were REALLY effective at keeping the struggling & starving population distracted, I mean, when you're fighting to eat daily, you'll take any distractions to not face the shitty situation you're in.

But, You can only keep an entire population distracted and suppressed for so long before they eventually reach the breaking point and explode. Tyranny is not as previously thought, sustainable. And the "Arab Spring" is a testament to that.

Now post-"The 18 days" (I'm not going to say Post-Revolution. The revolution is far from over), It looks like the same tactics are being used, to varying degrees of success. After all, The game has changed, not all previously successful moves are going to work.

Now what has happened since after the "18 days"? :

  1. The Football (Soccer) league was one of the first things to resume (No one finds this suspicious?) , and thankfully ended quickly. (A Blessing in disguise?)
  2. More Sectarian strife (This time violent) as I discussed in my previous post.
  3. Celebrity soap-opera like news. This time in the form of the Mubarak family. Be it stories about Mubarak's Health again and again , His upcoming "Apology" and plead for amnesty , his Wife's health (Are they trained to have heart attacks on command?) Blaming his wife for his "downfall" because she supposedly pushed for succession , Blaming his son for his downfall, a reported "Fight" between his sons about his "downfall" making out Alaa to be a "Good" son as opposed to his "Bad" son in some kind of Shakespearian drama that is SLIGHTLY plausible enough to be believable (but I believe is complete bullshit.) . Mubarak and his family, ARE the current "Celeb Story" and it's still unfolding.
  4. The call for a march to Gaza to demand the borders be reopened (Even though an agreement to form a unity Palestinian government has been finalized, and It's already been confirmed that the Rafah crossing WILL be reopened, regardless if people march or not, Not to defend the SCAF here, but things like this take time, especially considering the radical elements that have attacked Egypt before from Gaza ) , Protests in front of the Israeli Embassy (and the violent crackdown with people getting shot and arrested)
  5. New threats, Attempts more attempts and movements from Terrorists and Terrorist Sympathizers
  6. Various religious issues that I've previously commented on, Be it the forced retaking of a mosqueImams depending the independence of the Azhar from the state (Separation of Church and state, or something less noble?) , That it was a religious duty to vote one way over the other, the Jerkoff that previously talked about Ghazwet el Sanadee2 (The Invasion of the ballots) claiming it's "Haram" for there to be any interactions whatsoever between male and female students , and a leading MB figure stating that it's religiously permissible to convert.

Now those are just examples , but you can see the trend, no? And the results are obvious, and I've said this a million times before: There are no coincidences when it comes to Egypt. For example, we've already seen people that are afraid so they're thinking that the emergency law isn't such a bad idea (We've seen fear drive people to give up their liberties and freedom, like the patriot act in the USA for example). It's not coincidental.  In the slightest. I've already referred to the possibility of this stuff happening before, and people are starting to believe me now, especially with statements like "The Referendum was on if the people accept the SCAF as their rulers or not." (See this video around minute 6:50 ) , keep in mind, this is the same organization that previously said "We Administer but we don't rule the country"

Now while we're all distracted, let's see some of what has been happening? (And I've mentioned some of these before, and some of them are more critical than others):

  1. The Government says "There are no new jobs for new governments" , After they said otherwise before
  2. An increase once more in private school tuitions 
  3. The MB not only focusing on the elections , but aiming for 50% of the seats, refusing calls for a pre-election drafting of the constitution , submitting their party registration next Wednesday AND saying that "Attacks against them will not deter them into side issues"
  4. British courts attempting to fine Egypt 900 million l.e and freeze Egypt's assets in Paris
  5. UAE's Damac company filing suit against Egypt (Probably because their bribe begotten gains have been frozen) 
  6. Azmy being released on bail because "He's old and frail" (Yet that didn't stop him from working before?) and that the law doesn't "Punish people for gifts" (I.E Bribes)
  7. The Emergency law being extended until after elections by the SCAF (Contrary to what they said before)
  8. The Ministry submitting a plan to protect "sites of worship" (Why wasn't this done proactively?) 
  9. The reported "Political rights law" failed to materialize on time
  10. Protest of around 200 asking the USA for a military intervention  to "protect minorities" in Egypt. 
  11. Presidential candidate Amr Moussa proceeding with his election campaign (Are any of the others doing this? Baradei are YOU doing this? )
  12. A Diesel fuel crisis (Hello increased prices for food and other basic supplies!)
  13. Food price Inflation in April  (As if people can afford it in the first place)
  14. A violation of the personal freedom of Blogger AbdElKareem Sulieman (They have an issue with his hand on his significant others shoulder, but not with the high amount of assholes that go there to sexually harass girls?) 
  15. Doctors going on strike (Mainly because they can't do their job in the absence of security or equipment
  16. 31 detainees escaped a police station in Giza (Who are they?)
  17. A Law drafted to absolve "Corrupt investors" from legal issues. Mainly to appease Prince Waleed Ibn el Tallal, one of the richest men in the world.
  18. College professors charged for "Encouraging demonstrations"
  19. Egypt approving of the controversial Ethiopian dam (Will it affect Water Quotas? yes or no?)
  20. Al Jama'a al-Islamiya calling for a March to release their (terrorist) spiritual leader
  21. Arrest of police officers holding stolen artifacts  
  22. A "Reformist" brotherhood member running for president
  23. A clash between two unions in Egypt .
  24. Antique coins stolen from the museum  
  25. Investigations showing the Mubarak drove up Egyptian Public debt
  26. Political parties slamming the MB statement that "The MB is a mother to all political parties in Egypt"
  27. The disaster of allowing the Wildlife preservation of Ras Muhammed of being opened up for fishing.
  28. Statement that the SCAF can legally grant Mubarak Amnesty , and then a plain denial by the SCAF that they'll do such a thing  , not to mention a threat by the Revolutionary committee 
  29. Whistle blowers basically being tossed to the dogs.

Not to mention the absence of security in Egypt. The SCAF blames the people, but could the fact that companies have their trucks hijacked and their products stolen by thugs have anything to do with it? Answer: Yes.

Now I could go on for hours (and I have been so far) , but I'm sure my readers are intelligent enough to check news sources themselves for more "info" slipping between the cracks of our attention. (And I don't blame people for not being focused, the amount of shit going on is insane)

But the point is, we need to focus. We're following and listening to people without knowing who the hell is behind things. For example, I do not agree with what is being done to the Palestinians, and I am completely against the violence against protesters in front of the Israeli embassy. however I do not think we can afford to distract ourselves with more issues, and the thing is, I know most of the "wise" protesters have noble intentions (and the entire protest was what? 5 to 20 thousand at best?), but they didn't initially call for the protest or March, did they? 

Who is behind the protest? Why was it done in the same location, day and time as the planned National Unity protest (And frankly took over it, leaving the Copts protesting on their own in Maspiro) leaving no sign of a "National Unity" anything? Why were there people wearing "Army of Muhammed" Headbands in Tahrir? Why was a Saudi flag waved in Tahrir (And i'll upload a post on Saudi Arabia later)? You know, Saudi Arabia? The same country that attacked Egyptian protesters and supported Mubarak, Crushed the uprising in Baharain (with support from the US) as well as within it's own country. Could it be that Islamists were the ones behind the Call for the march (While pretending to be in support of the National unity March)? Of course it was, are YOU FREAKING KIDDING me?!

On another note, anyone aware who actually started the "Army and People are one hand" Chant? Mob Mentality 101 , don't you think? (I'm reminded of the How I met your Mother episode where Barney started a chant for "Shrimp Fried Rice" )

Also, Mubarak is going to ask for Amnesty and forgiveness. Am I the only one that thinks the Mubarak "Soap opera Drama" (The Mubarak and the beautiful) that we've been exposed to the past few months, is mainly so that the sentimental Egyptians grant him the Amnesty out of the goodness in their hearts, and unknowingly be kissing the stolen assets and money goodbye?

While I support the call for the May 27 protests/Reigniting of the revolution, I don't think it's going to get the public support it needs to be successful, because unfortunately as I mentioned before Egyptians are currently willing to trade their liberties and expectations for their much vaunted stability (And on a psychological basis, who can blame them?) not to seem narcissistic but to quote myself : " People in Egypt are unlikely to revolt again for a long time. They have suffered as a result of the revolution , the economy has been affected, people they know have been hurt or killed...etc The likelihood of them revolting again within the next 50 years, is VERY small and almost negligible. The claim of "the people will just revolt again" is not entirely true, because if they don't revolt again within the next two months, they will not for a very long time."

So here's my point, we need to keep our head in the game, we have one of two choices:

1- Focus on what's important, and move forward with what's important, Keeping in mind that EVERY respectable (and non-respectable) organization has people responsible for various tasks: The Public figures and PR people deal with things like Imbaba, while the people behind the scenes do the actual work. Do the liberal organizations in Egypt have that, or is it only the MB and Salafis?

2- Focus on every distraction out there, and if we do that, we might as well hand the country to the MB, NDP and their ilk on a silver platter.

Is that what we want?

At least it's not all bleak... The Upper Egyptians have been busy with some great things such as the creation of a Muslim-Coptic coalition to combat Sectarianism. They're a lot more politically active than most people know.

Focus people.

There are NO coincidences when it comes to Egypt.

Six hours of research and writing later, and I realize this article is nowhere near as short as I intended. Hope you enjoyed the 2 mins it took you to read it. Yes I do realize there are lots of formatting and editing errors, but I'm too tired to do anything about it.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Helen of Agouza.

= ? 
(In case you don't get it yet, It's a play on Helen of Troy)

Before I continue this post, I need to point something out that most people don't understand, the problem isn't in and of itself in "Converting" from one religion to another , the problem is that in Egypt, The biggest problem is the fact that if you convert , you have to "go through" the church or Mosque legally.

Say you're converting from Islam to Christianity, you have to go the Azhar who try to convince you not to convert, then the church to actually convert. Converting from Christianity to Islam? You have to go to the Church who try to convince you not to convert, then the Azhar to actually convert. So now both organizations are aware that you converted, not to mention all the bastards that keep an eye out for things like this to stir up trouble, But if you don't legally HAVE to do that, if you can just go into a government office and change your religion in private, there wouldn't be huge problems like the shit with Camilia and others.

There are ways around it of course, especially if you go to another country, but "legally" that's the way it's set, of course I'm not going to even TALK about the hypocrisy concerning "ease" of converting to one religion over another depending on who the government employee handling your paperwork is.

Anyway, let's go on. By now everyone is already aware of what went on in Imbaba, Egypt a few days ago. (and that Link will keep you updated)

Now I'm not going to discuss what happened: The facts remain, a violent clash happened, and a church (or two) were burned, people were killed or injured (of both faiths) ...etc But the point is, I refuse to take things at face value.

Now I've said this OVER AND OVER again: There are no coincidences when it comes to Egypt. To me it doesn't really make sense, the situation doesn't benefit the Salafis (if they are indeed behind what happened) because the more problems they cause, the more public opinion is against them. So yeah, something stinks in the State of Egypt.

I'm not going to say I know for sure what's going on, BUT I'd like to point out a few things that people might have overlooked or forgotten about with ZERO bias towards anyone:

1- The Muslims that we call extremists or Salafis or whatever and their regular calls against any non-muslims.

2- The Idiots that actually believe Camilia is actually imprisoned in a church (and are thus easily manipulated)

3- The ex-church official that lives in the USA, was kicked out of the Egyptian Church, and fought with the Egyptian church official saying on a news show "ha2lebha 3alekom" (I'll turn it on you) years ago (His name escapes my memory at the moment)

4- Whoever wants things to appear chaotic without mubarak, his police, and his emergency law.

5- Whoever released Aboud el Zomor and his cronies from prison even though we're still under emergency law (and as Such there's no real reason to let him out)

6- The general un-admitted fact that both the Azhar and the Church are full of corrupt people (the Religious institutions in general)

7- The continuing protests by imams demanding to be independant from ElAzhar, what their motives are, I don't know (and I'm not confusing them with the Imams that want the Independence of the Azhar from the state)

8- With everything else being censored and controlled, Ministry of Aw2af (Wezaret el Aw2af responsible for churches and Mosques) is allowing preachers on both sides to say whatever they want

9- Who "The Coalition of new Muslims" and why they are allowed to instigate & incite violence?

10- The Christian channel (Run from London) saying provocative stuff about Islam on the 7th of May.

11- Testimony from witnesses that swear the Salafis helped put out the fires, and that thugs were behind it

12- The Minister of Interior saying that the Copts are the ones that started firing who later said 4,000 Salafi's tried to invade the churches (Have they actually SEEN the alleys in Imbaba?)

13- The complete lack of police or security forces until WELL AFTER the clash started

14- A Mosque in Abassyia that was forcibly returned to Government control.

Again, I want you to look at ALL these factors with an unbiased eye, for the sake of this article, assume you are not Muslim, Christian, or even Egyptian. The above factors are just SOME of the factors, the thing is, I doubt any of those factors are unrelated. They're not. The people of imbaba in particular (I've lived there for a while) wouldn't normally rise against whoever their neighbors are. In fact, not only does a Jew live in imbaba (and he's known well and lives normally among them) , but the people from Imbaba and Waraa were helping defend others in nearby Agouza (Including Christians) during the revolution when the cops were off the streets.

So the fact remains, the situation is shit, yes muslims performed the crime, there's no denying that, and as such we DO have a problem we cannot deny, but did they plan it, or did someone else push for it? Are we going to take things at face value?

Well, Think for a second, what did the previous government claim the result would be if we ousted Mubarak and his ilk?

I recall that they said that they had to rule with an iron fist for our "own good" , that If things didn't calm down we'd be invaded by a foreign country , That they were defending us against terrorist threats , that they were protecting us from sectarian strife , and more disastrous , that Mubarak was protecting Egypt and the world from terrorists and terrorist sympathizers along other things.

All those links in the above paragraph, aren't from a few months ago. They're all from the past few days. about steps and things done by the current government, and things going on in the country AT the moment. Does that make sense? Who in the world would want to prove the previous Government and Mubarak right?

Now while we're all busy with the latest disaster, what has been going on?

Logical suspicions that Saudi Arabia is behind the counter-revolution , Whistle blowers getting screwed over for having the decency to report wrong doing (which leaves it almost impossible to actually report corruption and as such end it.) , The house of Saud condemning the violence (Really? How about you shut your Sheikhs up if you really do condemn it? How about you tell your "Agents" to stop stirring shit up?) , Creation of "Coptic militias" (build up for a holy war anyone? Not that I can blame them for wanting to defend themselves) , and probably the biggest disaster while we're all so busy with this shit? The Muslim Brotherhood rejecting a pre-election drafting of the constitution at a conference that included 50,000 MB and Salafi members, obviously so they can maintain control on how it's drafted and what it contains, since they've already declared that they're aiming for 50% of the parliament  which when coupled with other "Islamic" groups, would give a religious coalition a large majority in parliament. Not to mention while All the secular liberal parties are dealing with the incident the MB is focused on the Elections.  Further push for the return of stolen assets from the swiss , Abod el Zomor lobbying for an end to Sectarian strife (yeah, you can laugh if you want) , Private schools increasing tuition AGAIN , Mubarak's Sons detentions being extended , and so many other things.

Also something that slipped our attention completely , the Fact that a British court wants to fine Egypt 900 million L.E AND freeze The Egyptian government's assets in Paris.  Could that be payback and/or a tactic to deter from England returning the stolen Egyptian money that Mubarak's "British" family most likely have? I have no clue if this lawsuit is legit or not, but considering the timing, freezing Egypt's assets at this time could be crippling. (Which is not at all surprising because believe it or not, Even with all the US Aid Egypt receives, Egypt actually PAYS the USA money every year.)

I honestly don't know what the truth behind all this is, but the reality is, details no matter how small or insignificant, are related, its all related. Old or new. All of it. There are no coincidences when it comes to Egypt. None whatsoever. Could be we're just headed to the scenario I discussed a few months ago, or we could be headed to something else, I don't know.
Don't misunderstand the point of this article, I'm not at ALL denying that we have a sectarian issue in Egypt. We do. The Churches were attacked and burned. Racism, sectarianism, sexism....etc Exists everywhere in the world (My American readers, how many Mosques were attacked, burned, vandalized...etc in the past few years?!) , But all I'm wondering is the following : Is this just a random incident among other random incidents, or is it (and the rest of the incidents) part of a bigger plan? In other words, Is Sectarianism the actual problem, or is Sectarianism a weakness being used to cause a bigger problem?

Yes, someone is going to tell me "What's with you and conspiracies?" , I'm not claiming there's a conspiracy, I'm just saying: There are no coincidences when it comes to Egypt.

Edit Note: Before anyone decides to use this article as proof that Egypt is a country full of terrorists, recall that this is about a few hundred people in a country of over 90 million, around 75 million of them Muslims.