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May 2, 2014

Poor Misr!

Roy Meachum

Despite my long-term residence in Cairo, I look on the land with the Nile River with eyes that wondering what more can go wrong. A judge sentenced more than 680 to death, including the spiritual guide to the Muslim Brotherhood; the Ikhwan Muslimi was outlawed when I was in Egypt.


Opposed to overall authority, the Brotherhood faced a ban that was imposed by the British, the “last” colonial power. Actually, London ruled the land of the pyramids by default; in 1882, they occupied Alexandria, armed with several treaties and concordats. Gamal Abdul Nasser became the sole survivor when the national military took over.


My introduction to Egypt was by the way of the last sight that King Farooq remembered of his native land. He took the yacht al-Arrousa north to Italy; when it returned the boat was free! General Nasser enfolded the nation into the Cold War. I spent a month in Rome, waiting a CBS visa, which never came. I remained close to the Egyptian embassy.


In February 1977, I managed to make Cairo; that was under the reign of President Anwar Sadat. On November 19, he went to Israel and money started flowing along the Nile. Not the U.S. but international companies: Sweden took over the phones. Hallelujah! We acknowledged the very many sources.


President Sadat was assassinated in October 1981 and Hosni Mubarak succeeded: things went well for foreigners – so good that it went along for the non-native born. Meanwhile, the familiar was being replaced by Mubarak’s cronies. Bribes were paid, we understand – after the fact. In that part of the world, paying-off is the normal – which is why the general voting went the other way.


When the “public intellectuals” absconded with their rights, the elections went to the Muslim Brotherhood. This is not the first time in history the reactions went along with the majority. In fair and free voting, the tally agreed. This was different. Minus the informed, who decided on its own, not to submit a valid ballot. In the end, I thought the decent people would agree to submit a vote. Nothing happened.


The breeze blowed. The dust flowed. Whatever happened that day, the morning and afternoon hours were not the same – especially in the space occupied by Egypt.


Ya hosarra! What a pity!


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