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January 2, 2014

A Letter From Inside Egypt

Patricia A. Kelly

On December 23 I received a message from a good friend, an educated (graduate degrees), Christian Egyptian, mid-30s in age, who is very upset about current U.S. policy toward Egypt. It, with some grammatical corrections due to the Arabic first language of the author, deserves to be read by readers.


“I cannot comprehend why the Western governments are only showing interest and support to the Muslim Brothers. Do they know our country more than we do? I believe there must have been a deal of some sort with them when they took office a little more than a year ago.


“There are demonstrations all over the world for domestic reasons (Turkey, Syria, Greece and Spain), but the media only focus on Egypt! Hours after hours on air simply saying nothing but lies about the situation in Egypt. And every news anchor is now an expert on Egyptian affairs.


“World, wake up.


“The Muslim Brothers are the founders of El Qaeda, and all the other Jihadi groups. These are the groups and organizations that targeted you and your embassies all over the world. They are the groups that want to bring Egypt into the dark ages.


“It seems there is a global conspiracy against Egypt simply because your media doesn’t want to even look at the other side of the story.


“Well, loud and clear, no one can dictate to us and tell us what to do. We will be much better off if you leave us alone and let us decide our own destiny as you all did at one time or another in your countries.


“The United States keeps threatening us day after day that they will stop their aid…and we are so tired of hearing it. So, please, go ahead and keep your aid to yourselves. We do not want it, and we don’t want your noses in our affairs either.


“Your televisions and papers are only showing the casualties among the Muslim Brothers from the clashes yesterday (December 22), but not showing the casualties among the police and the civilians…not even one picture of all the churches they burned yesterday (December 22).


“Nobody talks about it! Terrorism is terrorism. The definition is valid anywhere in the world. We are so sick of your double standards!!


“Please tell us why the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi are so precious to you. Why are you lobbying for him in every way possible while you know that the majority of the Egyptian people don’t want him or his gang? What’s in it for you? I guess time will tell.”


My friend, though young and impassioned, lives in Cairo and has been observing the Egyptian revolution first hand from the outset. Before it began, this person jokingly said about Mubarak, who was in power and the receipt of generous U.S. foreign aid when we met, that the Egyptian people would be perfectly happy for Mubarak’s son to take over as the next president because the Mubarak family had already stolen so much money from the Egyptian people that the son wouldn’t need to steal any more.


Jaded and accepting of government corruption, my friend and many other sophisticated Egyptians first hoped for a better system at the time of the Arab Spring.


It must be more complicated for devout Muslims to deal with questions that arise from the presence of a government moving toward repressive Islamic law, in a formerly freewheeling society, but the fact remains that Morsi was elected from a very small slate chosen by the military, and not “freely elected” as the U.S. press states. It is also a fact that Morsi promised inclusiveness and moderation he never showed a single sign of delivering. The Brotherhood, forbidden in Egypt for many years, had also been promising moderation, and also lying.


Our government has handled foreign relations badly throughout the Middle East, misreading signals time after time. In the case of Egypt, it is especially tragic, as the Egyptian people, bright and better educated than the people of many Middle Eastern countries, were ready to like us. Egypt is pivotal to our relationship with the rest of the Middle East, and to the security of Israel.


Please, people, tell your representatives that our government needs to do better in our relations with foreign governments. Our government must learn that different cultures are different from ours and, to deal appropriately with them, we need to look beyond our own navels to actually understand them.


America, it’s time to either shape up, or leave people in other countries the hell alone.


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