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Does Egypt love Egyptians?

Throughout my daily blog reads, I've noticed an obvious tone between young Egyptians, many of whom are questioning whether or not they love Egypt, and whether or not Egypt loves them back.

As an Egyptian young woman myself, I like to say that this may be understandable after the daily series of crises we hear of one day after the other, however, throughout history – I don't think the feeling of frustration, disappointment and suffocation has ever stuck youth as much as it does during this particular era. And sadly, the gap between dreams and reality is widening, and consequently deepening the feeling of loss, and hate for the country.

Tigress, an Egyptian female blogger, wrote a post entitled “I no longer love Egypt” [Ar]:

اصبح لى سنوات الآن ادافع عندما يهاجم احد مصر.. اقول بحرارة ؟؟ ..ليس العيب فى البلد ، انما هى ضحية ساكنيها..[…]
ولكننى مؤخرا استسلمت للارهاق…انا مرهقة من هذه البلد.. ثم ادركت ان الوطن هو الارض وماعليها.
For years I have been strongly defending Egypt and saying the problem is not in Egypt, but in its residents […] But recently I've become tired. I am tired from this country, and I realized that a home is the land and who lives in it.

She continued her post going to the extreme claiming that the only solution is a bigger disaster to happen:

احيانا افكر انه ربما من الافضل ان يبتلينا الله بغزو يحررنا وينظف البلد..ثم انفض رأسى من بأس الفكرة .ثم اقرر اننى سأنسحب واتقوقع واصبح وحدة منفصلة ناجحة..ثم ادرك اننى احلم …لا يمكن الانفصال عن الوطن
I sometimes think that an invasion may help clean the country. But quickly I shake this idea off my mind, and decide to care only about myself. Then I realize I am dreaming.. I can not be separated from home.

She ended her post with a confession that she no longer loves Egypt:

هكذا فى لحظة نادرة من الصراحة والوضوح ..اعترفت لنفسى بأسوأ اعتراف فى حياتى
اعترفت اننى رفعت يدى…وتوقفت عن الايمان بمصر
And thereby, in a rare moment of frankness and clarity I admitted to myself the worst confession ever.. I admit that I've stopped having faith in Egypt.

Egyptoz, an Egyptian male blogger, has been working in Europe for a year and just came to Cairo for a two-day visit. He wrote another post [Ar] about his feelings upon his return, and the cultural shock he faced:

يومين فى القاهرة و مش قادر استحمل دقيقة واحده فى المدينة العشوائيه دى…و بصراحه ما كنتش حاطت امل كبير يعنى… لما ارجع اجازه اسبوعين تلاته لمصر بعد ما عيشت اكتر من سنه فى اوروبا…عاوز ارجع اقول ايه…مصر حلوه…
Two days in Cairo and I can't bear this chaotic city for one more minute. Frankly, I wasn't having high hopes, though after a year in Europe I hoped I'd return back and admire how lovely Egypt is.
Bridge of 6th October

Photo by Daveness_98 under CC, for traffic over bridge of 6th October in Cairo.

Aliaa, an Egyptian female doing her university studies in Beirut, questioned “Does Egypt Love ME is the question?” :

I still love Egypt but I am just angry at what it has become, you can be angry at the people you love but you can never hate them.

She quoted a line from a poem by Tamim Al Barghouti, a young Palestinian/Egyptian poet, entitled “They asked if I love Egypt”. El Barghouti wrote this poem upon his departure from Egypt for 20 days – after taking part in a demonstrations against the American invasion to Iraq saying:

قالولي بتحب مصر فقلت مش عارف
أنا لما اشوف مصر ع الصفحة بكون خايف
They asked me if I love Egypt, and I said I don't know.
When I see Egypt on the page I feel afraid.

Aliaa then clarified her feelings saying:

My country and its citizens treat themselves as second level humans […]. So do I love Egypt? I asked myself that before and now I am asking myself again, well my answer is: Does Egypt LOVE ME?

In the comments section to Alyaa's post, Hicham relates the problem to Egyptians and not Egypt:

I think about relating our problems in terms of Egyptians not Egypt. Our country in terms of many things is to be loved but what Egyptians do since many decades is what to be questioned.

Also Serag, a Libyan citizen who has lived in Egypt for a long period of time, wrote a “post” describing his feelings towards a place he once thought as his home after a short visit:

Does a place grow old ?! this is one of the questions that have kept me awake in the hot and humid nights during my last visit to Egypt. Between Alexandria and Cairo I was trying to find my own Egypt and I have failed. To be out of your place is to be in exile but is there a word of being out of your home.
[…]
I might have had a home in Egypt once but now all I have is hotel room.

On a puzzlingly unfortunate but positive note, Mermaid wrote a deep post entitled “Oh Egypt, the bitter honey” [Ar] after her day visit out of Cairo heading Alexandria. In it, she explains her different daily experience in Egypt. One of the beautiful and sincere moments she mentions happened to her last Ramadan:

في رمضان اللي فات، رحت المسجد متأخرة فا إضطريت أصلي برة قاعة السيدات مع ناس كانوا متأخريين برضه. ماكنش المكان مفروش للصلاة وللأسف ماكنش معايا مصلية. الست اللي قدامي لما شافت إني هاسجد على البلاط، رجعت المصلية بتاعتها لورا بحيث إني أقدر أسجد عليها وهي سجدت على كيس بلاستيك.
Last Ramadan I went late to the mosque for prayers, so I had to pray outside the mosque. The place there wasn't well furnished, and I didn't have my praying carpet. A lady who was standing in front of me pulled her praying carpet back towards me, when she saw I will pray on the bare floor, and she prayed on a plastic bag.

She also mentioned another nice incident for a man who helped her find her directions downtown, yet then commented on the other daily misfortunes saying:

كل يوم باسوق مسافات طويلة بحكم مكان شغلي. كل يوم أعصابي بتتحرق في السواقة من ناس بتكسر عليا أو ناس ماشية بمزاجها من غير ما تراعي قواعد المرور أو حتى قواعد الذوق. كل يوم أعصابي بتتشد وانا باسمع الدين بيتسب في الشارع… شتايم بتخليني أتمني إني أكون مابسمعش.
Everyday, I drive a long distance to work. Everyday I get stressed from people's bad driving, without caring to abide by traffic rules or simple rules of courtesy. Everyday I hear insults on the streets, insults that make me wish I were deaf.

Photo by jay galvin under CC, for workers waiting to break Ramadan fast at 6PM before they return home, under the freeway entrance ramp. Food sponsored by the local wealthy person.

She further described:

الناس ديه كلها من نفس البلد.. نفس البلد الحلوة.. القذرة. البلد اللي لسة بتدي خير… وبتاخد عمر وشباب ولادها. […] البلد الزحمة الملوثة… واللي الصبح بدري بتبقى أجمل مكان ممكن الواحد يمشي فيه. البلد الدوشة.. اللي ساعة المغرب في رمضان الأذان بيبقى مالي الشوارع الفاضية المسالمة. البلد اللي بتخلف ناس بتاكل حق ناس… وناس سايبة فطارها في رمضان ونازلة تدي بلح ومية وتمر هندي للناس اللي في الشارع اللي مالحقتش الفطار في بيتهم.

بادعي ربنا إن كرهي مايخلنيش عامية عن الحاجات الحلوة اللي فيها.

All these people are from the same beautiful and dirty country. The country that still gives “good” but takes the lives of its youth and children. […] The polluted crowded country, that can be the best place ever to walk in, in the early mornings. The noisy country, that the beautiful Maghreb Azan fills its peaceful and empty corners.. A country that gave birth to some abusing other people's rights, and other people left their Iftar in Ramadan to give strangers in streets dates, and water for their Iftar – in case they may miss it before going home.
I pray to God that my hatred won't make me blind to the beautiful things in this country.

Whether it is a general feeling or only shared by some individuals, many agree that today's Egypt is not the Egypt that Egyptians read about in their history books, or heard national songs about on the radio and television.

  • You know now that I am not in Egypt, and living the life of a lonely expat..I keep asking myself what are my feelings towards the place and the ppl..I am not sure yet..but one thing I am sure of is if I hear the Egyptian accent or bump into an Egyptian I feel like we’re 2 orphans who fled an orphanage..they’re happy to see each other away from the place where they first met!

  • Very passionate post but can you give some specific examples of complaints or disappointments that Egyptians notice when they look at their country? It can’t all be because of traffic???

    • Of course not traffic alone..
      But rather the degradation in services, in people’s manners, and social standards.. also political oppression, unemployment, inflation.. etc.

  • You’ve expressed different thoughts in this article that are worthy to check. I agree with your ending paragraph.

  • tasneem nabil

    don’t be mad … its just a matter of time … and the good citizens are trying as they can to make differences :)

  • haytham

    يا بلدى ..يا عمرى و اصحابى ..يا امى و اختى و و كتابى
    يا حلم يا نور يا امل و شمس الصبح على بابى

    لاول مره:-( بقول و قلبى بيتعصر و يتحسر و ينكسر:-(
    تعبينى اوى يا غاليه و ضيعتى فى شبابى

    انا عاشق و بتمنى تشاورى بصبعك تلاقينى
    خدامك …وبوابك و بودى جاردك :-) و فداكى دمى و اعصابى

    ليه يا امى ؟.محبتك صعبه و قلبك قاسى ؟انتى كده ؟
    ما افتكرش :-)سوءوا سمعتك .وهاتعرى انا و استرك بكل اتوابى

    FOR EGYPT MY MUM *HAYTHAM

  • haytham

    all of you be proud :-) who ever tell let him tell :-) and who have pyramid show us if he can :-)
    not only pyramid ..Egypt history of universe:-) and source… and all of us original :-) (yaneey ) agdaa nas :-) :-)

    haytham.m.lotfy

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