by Luna

by Luna

Luna

Luna

Blog Intro

Hello, I'm Luna, and I'd like to welcome you to "Kisses from Kairo,"* my blog about living and working as an American belly dancer in Cairo.

Life in Cairo isn't easy for dancers, foreigners, women, or even Egyptians. It is, however, always exciting. That’s why after living here for seven years, I've decided to share my experiences with the world. From being contracted at the Semiramis Hotel to almost being deported, not a day has gone by without something odd or magical happening. I will therefore fill these pages with bits of my history in Cairo—my experiences, successes, mistakes, and observations. Admittedly, my time here has been rather unique, so I want to stress that while everything I write is true, my experiences do not necessarily reflect the lives of other dancers.

In addition to my life as a belly dancer, I will write about developments in costuming, performances, festivals, and, of course, the dance itself. I will also make frequent references to Egyptian culture. I should note that I have a love/hate relationship with Egypt. If I make any criticisms about the country, please keep in mind that I do so with the utmost love, respect, and most of all, honesty. Egypt has become my home, so I want to avoid romanticizing and apologizing for social maladies, as most foreigners tend to do. Nothing could be more misguided, patronizing, or insulting.

I hope you find this blog informative, insightful and entertaining, and that we can make this as interactive as possible. That means I'd love to hear from you. Send me your comments, questions, complaints, suggestions, pics, doctoral dissertations, money, etc., and I will get back to you. Promise. :)~



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Monday, June 4, 2012

"No Justice, No Peace"


In the words of New York firebrand Al Sharpton, “no justice, no peace.”  That’s what came to mind upon hearing the verdict of the Mubarak trial two days ago.  I’ve never had much use for the Reverend Al, but his words reverberated in my head as thousands of Egyptians took to the streets, enraged that Mubarak and Co. were let off the hook.  Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for failing to stop the shooting of protesters.  So was his minister of interior, Habib Al-Adly.  His sons Gamal and Ala got off scot-free.  So did the 6 officers charged with actually pulling the trigger on protesters in the beginning of the revolution. 

If that’s not getting off the hook, I don’t know what is.  You’d think that after 30 years of robbing the country, they could come up with enough charges to put him in the electric chair.  Or wrap a noose around his neck and mete out justice in Tahrir Square, Iraqi style.  Which is basically what a lot of Egyptians clamored for.  Especially the relatives of those who died in the revolution.  Instead, Mubarak was found guilty of only one thing, and completely innocent(!) of various corruption charges…  

 
…As if we really needed a trial to prove that Mubarak was one of the most corrupt dictators in the world.  One need only take a look at this place to know the extent of the damage.  The education and health systems are in shambles.  The economy is non-existent.  Unemployment and illiteracy rates are embarrassingly high.  Traffic is a nightmare.  Pollution is out of control.  That’s all the proof you need right there.  But no.  Egyptians chose to have a trial, knowing full well all the judicial finagling that would occur.  Alas, us moderns and our obsession with process. :/  

What I find most intriguing is Egyptians’ reaction.  Of course they have a right to be outraged, but outrage implies surprise.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out what’s so surprising about this.  From the very start of the trial, it was clear that things were fixed in Mubarak’s favor.  I mean, Mubarak appointed all the generals, prosecutors and judges in the first place!  Even without these appointments, we would still have a sense that things were fixed.  That’s just how things work here. But this time, it was just a little more obvious, and thus insulting to the national intelligence.  

Yes.  That’s it.  Insulting.  Egyptians are insulted, not surprised.  They are insulted that the powers that be think them so stupid as to believe that Mubarak only did ONE thing wrong in his 30 year tenure.  They are insulted that even after the revolution, business is still being conducted in the usual conspiratorial Egyptian way.  

And that’s why there will be no peace.  Because there is no justice.  Until the guilty and the innocent trade places behind bars, Egyptians will not stop raging in Tahrir.  Don’t get me wrong.  I fully understand that in this part of the world, in these times, manipulating political events to ensure more desirable outcomes is necessary.  It may not be “right,” but it’s better than letting nature take its course.  Letting nature take its course, i.e. free and fair elections, would result in Islamists gaining complete control of the country.  Which would have disastrous affects for everyone—even the people who voted them in.  Which is why I fully support rigging the presidential elections to make sure a secular candidate wins.  That’s probably really un-American of me.  But then again, I’m not exactly a democrat these days.  

That being said, the Mubarak trial was one of those things Egypt could have afforded to conduct a little more fairly.  They didn’t have to manipulate the trial to the extent that they did.  Finding Mubarak guilty on several counts of murder and corruption wouldn’t have put the future of the country in jeopardy the way fair elections would.  If anything, conducting a fair trial would have been a nice gesture—a symbol of goodwill toward the Egyptian people.  It would have worked wonders for their dignity, and given them the feeling that the revolution was not fought in vain.  At least not entirely.  

Not to mention, the timing is all wrong.  The verdict comes right in between rounds one and two of the presidential elections, both of which are (rightly) perceived as rigged.  If Egyptians were outraged at last week’s election results, the verdict has made them even angrier.  We can rest assured that this time, they’ll approach the polls with a vengeance.  And the Islamists stand to benefit.  

Here’s why.  Last week’s election results put Egyptian liberals in the unfortunate position of having to choose between the two evils they’ve been trying to extinguish—Mubarak and the military, on one hand, and the Islamists, on the other.  They must now elect either the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsee, or Mubarak’s former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

Or, they can start a new revolution…

I’m willing to say that before hearing the verdict, liberals would have voted in droves for Ahmed Shafiq.  Not out of conviction, but to prevent the country from falling into the hands of the Islamists.  And because it’s easier than starting another revolution… and because they’ve tacitly admitted defeat.  The revolution didn’t preside the way they wanted it to, and it’s too late to save it.  The only thing they can do now is prevent Egypt from turning into Iran.  And if that means electing a Mubarak man, then so be it.  

After hearing the verdict, however, lots of angry liberals will give their vote to Morsee.  Also not out of conviction.  But because they are disgusted with all things Mubarak (and by extension, Shafiq).  Though Morsee has a beard and wants to impose Shariah law, everyone knows he’s the most vicious opponent of the ancient regime.  And right now, that’s the most important thing for liberals deluded by this week’s verdict. 

One influential liberal who will now be endorsing Morsee is Ayman Nour.  Ayman Nour is a staunch secularist who made a career out of opposing Mubarak.  He landed in jail in 2005 for being the first person ever to run for president against Mubarak.  After hearing the verdict of the Mubarak trial, he stated his intent to support the Morsee campaign.  

So there we have it.  Basically, what this means is that if round 2 of the elections is not rigged, Morsee gets in.  Now, I’m willing to believe (and sincerely hope) that the elections are fixed in Shafiq’s favor, but if they’re not, we can kiss this country goodbye.  

If they are fixed and Shafiq gets in, things will get ugly fast.  We can expect a whole lot more protests and even violence.  For though historically Egyptians have had a high tolerance for corruption, a fixed verdict on the heels of a rigged election was just too much, even for Egypt. 

But if Morsee gets in, things will get ugly slowly.  Women and Copts will be stripped of whatever dignity they have, one right at a time.  The economy will crumble even more than it already has, and life will become as miserable as it is in other Islamist countries.  Slowly.  Wahda wahda.  That’s more dangerous than any protest or dare I say, massacre.  Massacres can be quelled, and protests forgotten.  But gradual Islamification lingers on for decades, destroying people’s livelihoods and lives.  

And that’s why this mockery of a trial was the biggest mistake since the onset of the revolution.  It’s angered the people so much that they are now willing to throw their support behind the candidate who will most definitely destroy Egypt as we know it.  Some are even calling for a second revolution.

No justice, no peace.
 
Can I get an Amen?

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