One of the reasons I picked moving to Cairo instead of another Middle Eastern city was Cairo was and is in the midst of reinventing itself. Of hopefully becoming a city and a country dedicated to preserving people’s rights, regardless of age, religion, gender, or heritage. You know, the things we want for our children.
Egypt is such a fascinating country in part because it is so many things, so many people, all clustered along the ancient lifeblood that is the Nile. The problem is (and it happens in the US too), is that the voice of one group has a tendency to become so LOUD that other voices, ones that are more accepting and progressive, can get drowned out.
But hey, have a revolution once, you can have one again. A week of protests has been happening here in Cairo and throughout Egypt in response to Morsi’s declaration saying he can essentially do whatever the hell he wants (no, really) and no authority in Egypt can stop him. But wait! It is only a temporary measure, people, so it isn’t in any way like being a dictator. …You don’t see other nations with new presidents going, ‘Hey. No branch of the government can tell me to sit down and shut up. I do what I want.’ It’s ridiculous. Obviously, many, many people were upset by this, feeling it is both Morsi becoming Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood taking over Egypt. Protests everywhere!
So how to solve that problem? Oh, well, if the declaration is only in effect until a new constitution is passed…let’s just speed up that process and get it passed so everyone calms down. Because writing a constitution is such a simple matter. Thursday the assembly writing the constitution voted on each article and passed it. Everyone is happy now, right? No. The assembly was largely (as in pretty much everyone) Islamist. Most non-Islamist members had left the assembly in protest of their voices being superseded by the MB. The few women (in a country of 80 million only a handful of women were to help write the new constitution? Shameful.) on the assembly walked out in protest as well. Which means, right away, half of the Egyptian population was not represented. Add in the Christians, Coptics, secularists, moderate Muslims and others who walked out and you’ve got a good chunk of society missing from forming what will be the most important document in Egypt’s new history. Once again, protests.
But there are those who support Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Blindly, even. And today they are coming out in full force to show their support. While in Tahrir, anti-Morsi protesters continue their sit-in.
What does this all mean for me? It means I’m not hanging out downtown any time soon. It means going about town can be impeded by wondering how crazy it could get in the streets on any given day.
But it doesn’t mean I’m in danger. It means this country is loudly and vocally fighting to define itself after three decades of being defined by one man. It is exciting, it is frustrating on many levels, but it does not mean I am in danger. I am safe, I am well, and I am not planning on joining the protests any time soon. As much as I want Egypt and its people to realize their full potential (ladies, this means you. Men, this means you in regards to the ladies.), this isn’t my fight. Me going into the protests would just be me being a spectator. That’s not what these protests are for. It isn’t a tourist attraction. It is people who are recognizing their ability to speak up, and are willing to risk injury and worse to see it happen.