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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Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Democratic Republic of Egypt

This is long overdue. I would have published it earlier but I was busy traveling and doing workshops. So here you have it, my thoughs on the June 30th revolution.

I am newly in love with Egypt. I don’t know any other place on Earth where millions of people can oust two dictators in less than three years. I don’t know any other country where the military intervenes to execute the will of the people yet leaves the governing to civilians. Since the revolution, I’d lost my faith in this place, but what happened last month restored it.

Well, partially at least. I realize that the Egyptian armed forces are no angels, and that they’d committed a litany of crimes since the outbreak of the revolution. I’m also aware that technically (from an American vantage point at least), the army shouldn’t be meddling in domestic affairs or running the economy. And I can see how that could rub Americans the wrong way. That’s because in the United States, we can’t even begin to imagine the army commanding the president to step down! We’re used to power being neatly compartmentalized. Each branch of government, including the armed forces, has its responsibilities and limitations. There’s no overstepping of boundaries. (In theory at least.)

In Egypt and many other third world countries, however, the roles of government institutions aren’t as sharply delineated. There’s very little sense of process, or of separation of powers and checks and balances. This is why dictatorships are so common. The president can wake up one morning and decide he wants to play legislature. Or that he grants himself judicial immunity. Similarly, the army can suddenly decide they don’t like the president and depose him. It’s not democracy, but it is efficient, if not exciting.

That being said, I’m going to reiterate what I’ve already said countless times: military intervention is still the best thing that could have happened to Egypt, both times. Despite its past mistakes and flaws, and whether we like it or not, the generals are the true custodians of Egypt. It’s been that way for a major part of Egypt’s modern history, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. Now, I don't buy the whole "the people and the army are one hand" bit. I'm a little more cynical than that. It's obvious that in executing the will of the people, the army acted in its own interest, which is purely economic. The generals own about 40 percent of the Egyptian economy; having 33 million people protesting in the streets every single day not only scares off tourists and investors, but brings the economy to a complete hault. That's why they sided with the protesters, not out of ideological affinity or allegiance to them. This has led many to play a game of semantics, debating whether or not the word "coup" accurately describes the military stunt. To me, it doesn't matter. Whatever the army's reasons, they took Morsi out. Allow me to explain why, right now, this was the best case scenario.

In an ideal situation, we could count on civilians to run their country freely, justly, and progressively. Key word being "ideal." Egypt right now is anything but ideal. A large part of the population is stubbornly religious, close-minded, superstitious, overly credulous, xenophobic, uneducated, illiterate, and poor. And they’ve been disenfranchised for ages. Send these people to the ballot box and they’re going to do the only thing they know: religion. They’re going to vote for religious candidates, either out of conviction, fear, or because candidates have bribed them. Usually it’s a combination of all three.

The political landscape is just as disappointing. Mubarak’s monopolization of the political sphere resulted in a generation of Egyptians with no true leaders. With the exception of Mubarak’s cronies, no one was allowed to participate in politics in any meaningful way, so no one has any experience. The Brotherhood, on the other hand, though forced underground, made the best of its exclusion from politics by mobilizing at the grassroots level. They set up schools and hospitals and made themselves popular with the poor by offering services that the Mubarak regime had no interest in offering. They made a name for themselves, so to speak, and were hence the only recognized political party in 2011/2012.

Not surprisingly, Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood and the more extreme Salafist party won 70% of the parliamentary vote, as well as the presidency. Which is extremely problematic. For despite their history of setting up charitable organizations to help the poor, they have orchestrated numerous terrorist attacks around the world. The Brotherhood had also become an ideological powerhouse for radical Sunni Islam, influencing terrorist groups like Al-Gama Al-Islamiya, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Qaeda. They preach a dangerous religious supremacy that views all non-Muslims as infidels who must either be converted to Islam, forced to pay punitive taxes, or killed. Its goal is the restoration of the caliphate and the eventual Islamification of the world. It severely circumscribes women’s rights, and flies in the face of modern notions of human rights. It's contemporary Naziism, basically.

Knowing that, doesn't intervention by secular-minded generals seem like a better alternative to theocratic "democratic" rule? Why the hell would anyone oppose the deposition of the Brotherhood?

Let me put it this way. Since Morsi became president one year ago, Egypt has become a sh!thole. Not only were all of its problems from the Mubarak era exacerbated, but new ones were created. Like the gas, electricity, water and money shortages. Like ridiculously expensive food prices. Like religious sectarianism and mob violence against Christians and Shiites. And people being thrown in jail for insulting the president (which didn’t even happen under Mubarak). Unemployment, violent crime, sexual assaults on women, and the garbage rose, while salaries and tourism dropped.

Meanwhile, all the Islamist government could do was discuss barbaric practices such as lowering the marriage age of girls to 9, and allowing men to have intercourse with their deceased wives. Pedophilia and necrophilia. These are people who are obsessed with sexual deviancy, yet hate women, and believe that homosexuals should be killed.

So, to everyone concerned about the toppling of a fledgling "democracy" in Egypt: Is this your definition of democracy? Raping little girls? Killing religious minorities and homosexuals? Throwing people in jail for insulting the president? Or for publicly disagreeing with the majority religion?

Just because the Brotherhood was voted into power doesn’t make them democrats any more than it gives them legitimacy. Paying poor people to vote for you isn’t democracy. Telling religious people they’ll go to hell if they don’t vote Islamist isn’t democracy. Pledging to script your constitution based on a holy book isn’t democracy. Neither is using ex-terrorists to threaten an entire nation, or imposing supra-constitutional documents giving a puppet president the power to do whatever the Brotherhood (still an illegal group) tells him to do. What part of that don’t we get? Why are so many of us secular liberal democrats so sympathetic to a modern Nazi group that wants nothing more than to slit our throats?

I don't know. What I do know is that while the west still has its head up its proverbial butt, the Egyptian military is doing everything it can to round up the terrorists. Things have gotten a little violent, and the Brotherhood is crying foul. But there really is no other way to deal with these fanatics. Appeasement is not an option, unless we want Egypt to wind up like Afghanistan. Nor is changing their beliefs. They are brainwashed, and they have decalared a jihad on Egypt. So far, they've placed a few bombs on the metro system (which the authorities thankfully intercepted); have attacked security forces with live ammunition and molotov coctails (which then causes them to shoot at "protesters," understandably); have killed numerous anti-Morsi protesters, and have even killed their own only to then blame it on the military!

The latest in their long list of sleazy stunts includes forcing children to protest the ouster of Morsi and seek martydom if he's not reinstated. (This is conjuring up images sof Khomeini wrapping large plastic "keys to paradise" necklaces around the necks of 13 year olds, whom he then sent off to fight the Iraqi army.) The best thing to do with people like this is to throw them in jail (or otherwise do away with them), because there's nothing they won't do to get their way. Sound harsh? Ask yourself how many lives would have been saved if the Germans had bumped off Hitler and his Nazis before they had a chance kill 12 million people. Sometimes, drastic threats require drastic measures. And remember, Nazism wasn't something that ended with the close of the 20th century. It is still very alive and takes different forms around the world.

I have total faith that if the Egyptian army continues to pursue terrorists with resolve, Egypt will be in much better shape within the next 6 months to a year. That is, if they don't pander to US and international pressure to reinstate Morsi as president, or to "take it easy" on Brotherhood "protesters." This time around, Egypt should be telling the international community what to do, not the other way around (or at least telling it to mind its own damned business). Egypt. Corrup, disfunctional Egypt, who over the past three years, reminded the world of the TRUE definition of democracy-- that power lies with the people. That he who giveth that power can also taketh away. And that there are serious repecussions for reneging on your pre-election promises. Imagine if western leaders were held accountable the way Arab leaders now are. Ok, we don't exactly have to depose them, but imposing term limits on senators might be a step in the right direction. :)

The only difference between newfound Egyptian democracy and western representative democracy is urgency. Egyptians couldn't afford to wait another three years to vote the Brotherhood out. They couldn't take the chance that by the time elections rolled around, the country wouldn't be completely destroyed, or that there would even be elections in the first place! (Let's not forget how Hitler derailed the same democratic process through which he rose to power.) The stakes were too high to let Morsi continue his term, and most Egyptians understood that. Why can't we?


  1. "This time around, Egypt should be telling the international community what to do, not the other way around (or at least telling it to mind its own damned business)."

    Well said. *applauds* I wish more countries would do this right now.

    I wish the Egyptian military the best in their endeavors for as long as they work for the best interest of Egypt and it's people no matter their motivation. Unfortunately the Brotherhood has succeeded in creating all kinds of conflict throughout the middle-east and I doubt that stability will be easily achieved.

    Ariadne Eleni

    PS. I'm glad to know that you are well.

    1. Thank you Ariadne for your comments and well-wishes to the Egyptian military. :)

  2. Mam nadzieję, że kolejny wpis będzie równie ciekawy

  3. I am glad you are well! It is an honor to hear your strong, independent viewpoint - take care-