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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Friday, June 28, 2013

Revolution Part II

I have to admit, I've been feeling a bit uneasy.  I'm afraid of what's going to happen starting on June 30th.  Or really, about what's already happening.  In just two more days, the world is going to watch round two of the revolution—Egyptian People vs. the Egyptian Government Part II.  Egyptians will take to the streets in droves and try to topple their government yet again.  And while I fully support them, me suspects that the sequel is going to be a little longer. And a bit bloodier. :/

Why do I feel this way?  Well, because as of now, clashes between those who support Morsi (aka Big Beard) and those who don't have broken out all over the country.  So far, four are dead (one of them is a Brother), and hundreds are injured.  Morsi's speech the other night only made things worse.  All he did was make veiled threats, blame people for his failures and advise Egyptians to solve the electricity crisis by shutting off the lights!    

The other reason I'm afraid things might get out of hand is because this time, the Egyptian people are divided.  There are plenty who want Morsi out, but also a considerable amount who want him to continue his term.  This is in marked contrast to 2011, when the overwhelming majority of Egyptians agreed that Mubarak had to go. 

As did the army. Luckily for the people, the army also wanted Mubarak to step down for reasons that involved his son taking over.  If that weren't the case, history might have taken a different course.  The army most likely would have defended the regime against the people.  And we all know what that would have looked like.  This time around, the army's stance is unclear.  Some say it will stand by the people as it did in 2011.  Others say it will back the beard brigade, with which it's struck a deal. If that's the case, we can expect a catastrophe. Right now though, we don't know what the generals have got up their sleeves. 

Oh and then there's good old Uncle Sam.  I mean, what's a coup d'etat on foreign soil without Uncle Sam?  Strangely, the US administration is continuing to throw its support behind the fanatics.  US ambassador Anne Patterson has even urged Egyptians (and specifically Copts) not to protest on 6/30. !!!  Not surprisingly, Washington's relationship with the Brotherhood has outraged millions of Egyptians and raised many an eyebrow in the US.  Since when does America overtly support self-proclaimed theocrats?

This is a tough one to crack.  The Muslim Brotherhood is antithetical to everything the US is supposed to stand for.  Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, democracy, separation of church and state, human rights, women's rights, gay rights, minority rights.  Shall I go on?  I'm not saying the US has a perfect track record.  But most of these concepts have been developed or at least applied in the US.  So why is the Obama Administration cozying up with the beards?!? 

I don't know.  Nobody knows.  But conspiracy theories abound.  Most Egyptians think it's part of a sinister American plan to dismantle the Middle East.  They think that instability in the region is in America's interest.  I fail to see how, being that that US has a history of promoting stability, even at the cost of supporting ruthless tyrants… and that stability is good for capital markets.  I mean, come on people, one plus one equals two.  It's not rocket science.  Egyptians also think America is acting on Israel's behest, as though America and Israel are one and the same and always agree  with each other.  Um, no.  My guess is that Israel is none too happy with their bearded neighbors.  

Americans have also been doing their share of conspiracizing (I think I made up a word! :D).  Some think that Obama doesn't have America's best interests at heart and that he's purposely courting the fanatics (not just in Egypt).  Or that he is Muslim and thus sympathetic to the Islamist cause.  I'm forcing myself to be less cynical about this administration's intentions.  I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.  I'm forcing myself to believe that this newfound alliance can be attributed to Washington's naivete, or "goodwill," or desire to "prove" to the Muslim world that we have nothing against Islam.  Or to their hoping they can neutralize the Brotherhod's fanaticism with money (they can't).  Or to their accepting that an Islamized Middle East is an inevitable reality and that we're going to have to make the best of it. Personally, I think that's the case.  Though that doesn’t mean we should be showering them with money and weapons. 

OR!, a thought that recently popped in my mind… and that if true, I'd have to give them MUCH credit for… is that perhaps the administration is using reverse psychology.  You know, overtly supporting Islamists in the hopes that the American stamp of approval will delegitimize them in the eyes of the America-hating public?  If this is the case, it's working.  Egyptians now see the Brotherhood as an American stooge, and they're all the more bent on taking them out because of that.  I'm not sure, slash highly doubt that this is what Obama was going for.  But if it is, bravo. I just hope this rebellion succeeds. 

On another note, today is my birthday.  My fifth one spent in Egypt.  I know I'm supposed to be all happy and celebrate, but I'm finding that difficult right now.  Not just because of all the violence that is happening, but because my future is in limbo.  For the second time, I'm leaving Egypt not knowing when or whether I'll be able to come back.  I feel like a refugee.  I don't even know what or how to pack.  Should I only pack for a month, or should I pack my whole life?  Do I pay one month's rent in advance, or two, or three?

I don't mean to sound overly dramatic.  But I've noticed that I have a knack for accurately feeling this place and predicting things better than most.  Maybe it's because I'm sensitive.  Maybe it's because I spent years studying the region's politics and trends.  Maybe it's because I speak Arabic and understand everything people say, and am constantly watching the Egyptian media.  And that because of that, I understand the mentality pretty well.  Maybe it's because I'm not interested in spinning reality to make it more palatable…. because I'm not interested in apologizing or making excuses for the culture's shortcomings.  Because I choose to see things as they really are, as opposed to how I wish they were.

Whatever the reason, I'm sad to leave Egypt in such a state.  And I'm sad to leave my friends and loved ones to face the dangerous days that are coming.  Not that my presence here will contribute anything.  It won't, and I'd only be stressing myself out unnecessarily.  Not to mention my family back home.  They are understandably terrified for me, and I don't think it's fair for me to put them through that.  They already go through enough just with me living here when it's peaceful.  So I paid $1100 USD on top of the ticket fare just to CHANGE my flight from July 4th to June 29th, so that everyone including myself will be at ease (leave it to Al-Italia to profit off of people's fear).  Even my man wants me to leave.  He's doesn’t want the extra stress of having to worry about me.

Almost every single person I know is going out to protest.  Even the ones who have previously been politically apathetic. I admire their courage.  The protestors will certainly be sprayed with tear gas and shot with live ammo, as Big Beard ain't gonna give up so easily. :/  But I think they realize that if they don't get rid of this Islamist cancer now, they never will.  Well, at least some of them realize that.  The vast majority of the protestors don't oppose the Brotherhood on ideological grounds—they're just fed up with the misery that has befallen their country, and want better leaders.  Which is understandable.  Should we be worried about the protestors aborting  a fledgling democracy?  Absolutely not.  There is no democracy here to begin with.  Theocrats are not democrats, even if they were elected into power.  Nor do Egyptians want democracy.  (Hear that America?  EGYPTIANS DON'T WAN'T DEMOCRACY.  STOP SHOVING IT DOWN THEIR THROATS.)

I'm praying for Egypt.  I'm praying for my friends.  And I'm praying for a better future.  I'm not optimistic, but I'm praying.  That's about all anyone can do right now.  



  1. Thanks for sharing, Luna. Your post is insightful and reflective. My heart breaks at the situation in Egypt now and I am praying with you. Insha'allah, all of our prayers will be answered.

    Happy Birthday.


  2. Happy birthday Luna . Travel safely . Im praying for egypt .

  3. "Or to their hoping they can neutralize the Brotherhood's fanaticism with money (they can't). Or to their accepting that an Islamized Middle East is an inevitable reality and that we're going to have to make the best of it." I tend towards these two. Plus, though Morsi has been a disaster domestically, he has been useful on the International stage and for the U.S.(such as the Gaza truce). It's always politics isn't it. I do though suspect Egyptians want representation (given these uprisings). And a recent poll showed 40% support for democracy (on their terms not those of the U.S.)! I agree the MB still has wide support ideologically, and a political arm that showed promise in 2011. But now the majority are sick of their poor leadership, power grabbing, and fanatics. I don't blame the people for wanting better. Just hope these demonstrations don't devolve too far. It's going to be a long road either way. See you in NY!? :)

  4. oh Luna, this is so heartbreaking to read, still yet reading it, I feel a thread of hope through your words as devastating as it is unfolding. When there is nothing left but faith and prayers for the best, it means it's time to surrender as absolutely hell bent as one may be, ( and for good reason)
    I am glad you are leaving early to ease others and your own worry. I hope to see you in NYC and am sending best wishes for your travel and your home there. love.

  5. Dear Luna...God be with you and keep you safe. People want FREEDOM from oppression, freedom of speech..but, with so many FANATICS in the world.. :*( So sad. Ana Belly Dancer, San Diego, California

  6. Your naivete my dear, believe in good intentions on the part of your country Maybe it's time to turn to her intelligence studies about the new world order and the masters of the world, some of which congregate annually to address public policies and popular interests at all private. The Bilderberg Club. Lie behind the whole wave of protests that shake the world at the moment, even in my country, Brazil, and intentions are the most harmful possible. But there is hope. Kisses with my most sincere feelings of better days for all of us.