by Luna

by 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, July 2, 2012

Woe to Egypt

I would have posted this earlier last week, but I've been insanely busy.  I apologize in advance, as there will be no sacred cows.  If you have any, don’t read this.

I feel like I just woke up from a nightmare.  Only, that nightmare continued into reality.  Islamists won the Egyptian presidency, fair and square.  That’s after winning 70 percent of the (now dissolved) Parliament.  Not to sound like a jackass, but I told you so.  

Even before this so-called revolution, I knew that religious fanatics would eventually come to power.  It was only a matter of time.  I guess studying the Middle East at Harvard is responsible for my political foresight.  But honestly, anyone with half a brain would have reached the same conclusion. The writing was on the wall.  Egypt has been ripe for Islamification for some time now.  One need only have noticed the growing number of veiled women and bearded men, and the widespread illiteracy, unemployment and poverty to figure that out.  If that’s not the perfect recipe for Islamist governance, I don’t know what is. 

None of this would be happening if it weren’t for Egypt’s newfound “democracy.”  With that in mind, I feel like being politically incorrect.  Borderline offensive.  I feel like making you reevaluate your most cherished beliefs about democracy, human rights, religion, violence, and most of all, this undeservedly sacred “revolution.”

Here goes...

Religious fanatics with political aspirations belong behind bars, not in government.  The reason is not necessarily because they’ve committed crimes (although lots have).  It’s because Islamist ideology is in itself criminal.  On par with Nazism.  Though it’s religious rather than racial, Islamism teaches a dangerous supremacy that poses a threat to humanity.  It teaches that Islamic governance is the only way of achieving justice and prosperity, and that it should be achieved by any and all means.  All those who stand in its way—non-Muslim and Muslim alike, are infidels and should be treated as such.   

Like Nazism, the ultimate goal of Islamism is world domination.  Not exclusively by killing off infidels (the equivalent of non-Aryan races in Nazism), but through the institution of the caliphate, and of course, conversion.  This is why such a pathological interpretation of religion endangers the lives of minorities, liberal Muslims, women, children, and the poor.  Indeed, with the exception of Turkey (which I’m sorry, is not really Islamist), everywhere they’ve come to power, Islamists publicly chop off peoples’ heads and hands, stone women who commit "sex crimes,” sponsor terrorist attacks around the world, persecute religious and sexual minorities, and destroy world heritage sites that are not Islamic.  That’s a lot worse than Mubarak, big time.

This is why we need to ask ourselves: does the world really need an Islamist Egypt?  On top of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, and now Tunisia and Mali  

I think not…unless you’re an angry, hairy, woman-hating, homophobic, sadistic beast of a man who gets a rise out of others’ suffering.  Or a severely brainwashed woman.  Or unless you’re a democracy-promoting liberal who doesn’t know the first thing about democracy, or your own country. :)  Providing you don’t fall into any of these categories, I think you’ll agree it might be wise to use a little preemptive justice on these miscreants, rather than give them yet another chance to prove how vile they are.  

Wait.  You want to object that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is composed of highly educated individuals who are more interested in making money than anything else. So what?  Education and religious zealotry are not mutually exclusive.  Just because someone is an engineer doesn’t mean they don’t want to destroy your freedoms or impose corporal punishment.

Speaking of education, I think it’s worthy to note that Islamists are exclusively educated in the hard sciences, i.e. physics, engineering, medicine.  You’ll never find a religious fanatic with a degree in the humanities, such as creative writing, political science, philosophy etc., subjects that A) one should be familiar with before running a country, B) promote human rights and are anti-religion, with good reason.

More importantly, lest we forget, is that the Brotherhood has been exposed to the electoral process.  They’ve realized that they have to appear more “moderate” so as not to scare the electorate.  It’s called lying.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at how the Brotherhood’s positions have, um, “evolved” as they got closer to election time.  Take a look at how many times they lied about their intentions, most notably about not wanting to dominate the Parliament.  Oh and not wanting to nominate candidates for the presidency. 

To tell you the truth, I respect the “hard line” Salafis more.  At least they don’t lie.  They come straight out and say they want to turn this place into 7th century Arabia (or modern-day Arabia, for that matter).  Unlike the more politically astute Brothers, they’re stupid enough to let us know what we’re up against. 

Because of Islamists’ horrifying track record around the world, I fully supported the military’s dissolution of the Islamist Parliament last month. Heck, I was even hoping they’d rig the elections to let the secular Ahmed Shafiq win.  That’s so anti-democratic of me, you’re thinking.  And you’re right. In Egypt, I’m no democrat.  Contrary to what I learned in my human rights courses back home, I do NOT believe that all peoples have a right to self-determination, i.e democracy.  Not when there’s a good chance that in their holy ignorance, they’ll put fanatics in power. 

You see, electing a government is a big responsibility.  It’s something that affects the lives of millions within and beyond your borders.  It shouldn’t be entrusted to fools and idiots.  In Egypt, where more than half the population is illiterate and mostly everyone is religious, self-determination leads to Islamists coming to power.  Why would we allow a largely uneducated population to put these criminals in power?  Because they want to?  Diabetics want sugar and alcoholics want alcohol, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for them.  Why would we allow a population that can easily be intimidated into voting for religious candidates determine how the rest of us are going to live our lives?  Because after all, it is democracy, and that’s the most important thing?

Then maybe it’s time to do away with democracy….

Egyptians liberals—you know, the ones responsible for this whole mess—got their priorities twisted.  Instead of fighting for security and prosperity, they fought for democracy.  BIG mistake.  Democracy is not the same as these things, nor does it guarantee them.  Sure, there’s a high correlation between them, but not necessarily a connection.  Stability and prosperity are goals.  Democracy is a means to those goals.  A process.

Liberals made the mistake of making democracy the goal.  They failed to realize that because it is a process, it can deliver a variety of results.  In societies with literate populations, a satisfactory level of education, and secularism, democracy delivers peace, prosperity, and stability.  But in societies plagued with illiteracy and religion, democracy delivers religious fanaticism, civil strife, sectarianism, and a host of other evils I don’t feel like mentioning. 

Knowing that, why the hell would anyone support democracy in Egypt?!?

Ah, but you see, the key word in that question is knowing.  To the detriment of the nation, Egyptian liberals did not know this.  They do not know the first thing about democracy, let alone their own nation.  They do not know how deeply religious and uneducated Egypt is.  Really though, what do you expect?  They don’t live in Egypt. They live on Facebook.  They don’t speak Arabic, they speak Arabish.  They drink and party at western style nightclubs and shop at City Stars.  They go to American schools.  For crying out loud, I’M more Egyptian than they are!

I’ll never forget this bachelorette party I danced at last month.  The girls who hired me were rich and liberated as sin.  Crème de la crème.  Between the inflatable penises and blow up dolls of naked men, there was much to marvel at.  But nothing blew my mind as much as the Egyptian girl who came to me after my show and asked me in broken, American-accented Arabic if I had seen her bag.  Hearing how bad her Arabic was, I told her I speak English.  Relieved, she started talking to me in perfect English.  I told her I’m American, not Egyptian, but work as a belly dancer here.  She told me she was born and raised in Egypt, and attends an American university.  

Nice girl, but can you see how people like this might be a little out of touch with reality?  Can you see why people who are sheltered in their elite cocoons shouldn’t start a revolution on behalf of a population they have nothing to do with?   

As if starting this darned revolution wasn’t enough, these so-called liberals made another grave error:  releasing a bunch of Islamists from jail.  They thought this would be a good way to increase their numbers and further intimidate the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) into relinquishing power.  They also wanted to piggy back on the Brotherhood’s popularity.  

And that is how the Egyptian Revolution became the Iranian Revolution.  That’s what put the kibosh on the Egyptian revolution and turned it into an Islamist nightmare.  Not SCAF.

Perhaps liberals’ biggest mistake after demanding democracy was letting these numbnuts run for office.  Islamists are not democrats.  They are theocrats.  They believe in imposing Shariah law, which runs counter to modern day notions of human rights.  They may be playing the democracy game right now, but their real agenda has nothing to do with representative government.  Which is why they should have been banned from elections in the first place.  

SCAF realized this, albeit a little too late.  That’s why they dissolved the Islamist Parliament before the elections.  And that’s why they were toying with the idea of handing the presidency to Shafiq, though obviously, that didn’t happen.  They chickened out.  Islamists threatened to engage in violence if Morsi didn’t win the election! In all actuality, they were so scared they would have given the presidency to Morsi even if he didn’t win, which is what a lot of people say happened. 

This is called appeasement, and it’s dangerous.  It’s what fueled Hitler’s megalomania, and it’s what is currently emboldening Islamists.  The army may think it’s keeping the peace this way, but what it doesn’t realize is that it's just postponing the violence.  Bloodshed is inevitable.  There will come a point when the fanatics really piss off either the army or the people, and things will get ugly.  Really ugly.  By that time, it’ll be too late.  Islamists will have consolidated their power, amassed even more weapons, and increased their ranks.  Egypt will thus wind up looking like Syria. 

The longer the army waits, the bloodier things will get when the shit hits the fan.  That’s why they should have handed the presidency to Shafiq, even if things got a little violent.  It's like a bad relationship.  You know it's in your best interest to end it, but all you can think of is how painful that'll be.  So you stay in the relationship, not thinking about how much more painful it'll be to break up later on, after the two of you have grown more attached.  In Egypt's case, it's not a matter of the army and the Islamists becoming attached (although that could certainly happen, ala Pakistan), but of the Islamists growing more attached to their power and weapons.  That's why the army should have ended this relationship NOW.  It would have been painful, but it also would have given them a nice excuse to round up all the Islamists, throw them back in jail, and prevent future disasters.  

Egyptians' reactions
What I find most interesting is Egyptians' reactions to all this. On the one hand, there are those who are voluntarily and prematurely Saudifying themselves.  I can't tell you how many women are now sporting ninja suits, and how many men have grown their beards in the past few months.  And now that Morsi's in, they're getting a little pushy.  It hasn't even been two weeks since Morsi "won" the presidency, and people are already boldly exerting pressure on women to cover up and act more Islamic.

On the other hand are those Egyptians who voted for Shafiq.  Their reaction is most intriguing.  The same Muslims and Christians who were deathly afraid of a Brotherhood victory are now telling me I'm crazy to think anything bad will happen.  What?!?  How does that work? How do you go from being rightly terrified before the election, to being totally at ease after it?  Did Morsi's speech on tolerance and inclusion fool you?  Did it allay your very logical fears?  Or are you all subconsciously converting your fear into optimistic denial, because your tired souls can't take anymore reality?  Do you really believe you can go back to Tahrir and get rid of the Brotherhood the way you think you got rid of Mubarak?  Has your Pharaonic hubris gotten the better of you?  Do you not realize that Islamists have a talent for sticking?  And that the only way to get them out of power is to have a foreign country like the U.S. physically expunge them? ...(after she puts them in, of course.):

I don’t usually play the blame game, but I’m going to play it this time.  And I’ll start by pointing my finger at the so-called “liberals” who just jeopardized the welfare of an entire nation.  

First off, the vast majority of those calling themselves “liberals” deserve no such title.  Voting for neither Shafiq nor Morsi doesn’t make you a liberal.  It makes you an idiot.  Supporting the fanatic because he’s your only chance against Mubarkism doesn’t make you a liberal.  It makes you a pussy.  Saving the “revolution” while handing your country to religious Nazis doesn’t make you a liberal.  It makes you a traitor.  And you should be hanged for it.  But most likely, you’ll pack your bags and escape to Amreeka, because you don’t want to grow your beards or cover your faces.  And because you can’t be bothered to fight back.  You’re too good to clean up your mess.  You’re a first rate spoiled brat who’s used to having others pick up after you.  

Number two, there is no revolution.  The “liberals” didn’t start a revolution.  They merely mimicked Tunis and ousted their president.  Monkey see, monkey do.  Actually, they didn’t even do that.  It was the army who gave Mubarak the boot.  Not because the army and the people were one, as the deceptive slogan goes, but because the generals didn’t want Mubarak’s son Gamal being their commander in chief.  They didn’t want some piss-pot with no respect for the armed forces giving them orders.  Had it not been for the interests of the army and the people coinciding, this place would have broken into a civil war.  “Liberals” need to realize that and stop taking all the credit for ousting Mubarak. 

Now that I got that off my chest, I’d like to leave you with one final thought.  I've noticed that Egyptians seem to have a bit of a cultural inferiority complex.  The elite emulate the West with their jeans, techno music and "democracy," while the masses wannabe Saudis with their beards and black ninja suits.  Much to our horror, the two have mated to produce a democratically elected government that will soon turn Saudi.  The sad part is that all of this is unnecessary.  Egypt has one of the most amazing, beautiful and richest cultures in the world.  It's not nicknamed “Um il-dunya,” Mother of the World, for nothing.  It’s got 7000 years of civilization and history.  Neither the West nor Saudi Arabia come close to that.  I wish Egyptians would take pride in this.  I wish they would stop looking outside for inspiration.  The day that that happens is the day we can honestly say there’s been a revolution.


  1. Thank you.

    I have been waiting for your response to what has been happening. It reminds me of what founders like John Adams and James Madison said about Democracy, they called it a "tyranny of the majority" and promoted a system of checks and balances in a Federal Republic instead. From what I can see of the situation there there is no check other than the military and very little balance.

    I also must wholeheartedly agree with your last paragraph. As it is I am very worried for the future of Egypt.

    Ariadne Eleni

  2. Thanks for your comment Ariadne. In this case, I honestly believe that the military will be the best check on the Islamist presidency. The Islamist Parliament wouldn't have been, that's for sure. Good that the army realized that and dissolved it. Funny, I don't see the army as the enemy. Not at all. If anything, they are our only hope for a moderate, non-theocratic state. It's not an ideal situation, but this is as good as it gets here. :/ I just hope they stop being intimidated by the fanatics...

  3. When the country is used to one extreme as a military dictatorship, there really was no other option, but for them to swing to the religious extreme. They knew they didn't want another military ruler, but I don't think they know what they are getting themselves into.

    Like my husband said, the majority of Egyptian are poor and cannot find work. They have nothing to rely on but religion, and the brotherhood provides many people with health care, and food. The brotherhood was obviously going to be the winner.

    The sad thing about this is that Egypt is going to be far worse off than it has been and I hate to see that, because we were hoping to settle there someday. With all luck, the military will not relinquish control, because they know what the president is planning. I bet one of the first things will be a war with Israel, which no one needs.

    1. Like you said, the military is our only hope. I just pray it's not cowering to the Islamists due to the fact that they're an ugly, violent lot. I mean, that's how I understood the army's decision to GIVE the presidency to Morsi. Let's hope that cowardice was only temporary, or strategic!

  4. One more statement. I have noticed that the Egyptian masses will believe anything that a person in a position of power tells them. I wonder why that is?

    1. Yes they're an extremely credulous people. That's why rumors are plentiful here. I think there are two reasons for this. Number one, there's widespread ignorance. This has to do with the failed education system, the 50% or higher illiteracy rate, and the fact that people aren't taught to think critically. The second thing is that most people are religious, and religion is about unquestioning believe in whatever that invisible authority called God and his prophet say. Can you see how that would program most people to be credulous and unthinking?

  5. Thank you Luna for writing what's been in my head for a long time and especially since the "revolution." Your comparison with Nazism is chilling but I'm afraid is "spot on.
    Thanks also to Ariadne for the reminders of our (USA) founding fathers' thoughts on democracy and what it means.
    Leyla Lanty

  6. Hope I'm not posting this twice, something happened...
    Thanks Luna for posting what's been on my mind for a long while now, especially since the "revolution." Your comparison of the MB and its machinations with those of the Hitler and the Nazies is chilling, but one that has been in my mind also.
    Thanks to Ariadne for your reference to our (USA) founding fathers' wise thoughts on democracy.

    1. Hi Leyla,
      You know I was hesitant about posting this, but I got to the point where I was going to burst if I didn't. Terms like Nazism can be inflammatory, and I know people compare anything to Nazism these days, but I seriously see a true connection here. I hope somebody (or something) stops these guys before they embark on a mission of meglomania. :/