Tag Archives: Egypt

The Woman of Power.


 

As the doors of the palace opened, a line of black SUV cars made its way up to the inauguration. The cars, complete with black bodies and windows, moved in accordance to one another. She had only been here once, only once. She sat comfortably upright staring straight ahead. Her auburn hair pulled back in a simple loosened pony tail. Her grey beret was tilted to the side and pinned so rigidly that cement was looser. Her hands clenched together on top of her lap as she exhaled deeply. The car made a turn and the sun shot through her window like a bullet aimed at a bullseye. The inside of the car was suddenly covered in red laser circles. Her heart froze for a glimpse of a second as her posture began to harden creating an armor for her protection. The laser circles had alarmed her causing her adrenalin to shoot through the roof creating a fight or flight response. In her case, it was definitely going to be a fight response.

Like any soldier, she had been trained to conquer a state of mind called hysterical strength: a state that allows the body to be given an incredible amount of strength to survive times of danger. In a matter of seconds, she was ready to fight. She was ready to give it her all.

The sun proceeded to move away and the car’s interior returned to its original peacefulness. She lowered her gaze to find the cause of her panic placed elegantly on her finger. As the sun embraced her hands, her ruby ring had caused an outrage. The moment the light shot through her ring, she could see a line of red light reflected on to the back of the driver’s seat. She sighed briefly smiling underneath her cold solid facial expression. You couldn’t see her face smile. You couldn’t see her face do anything. Her eyebrows perfectly plucked withheld from all forms of dancing.

The car pulled over in perfect symmetry with the black and white pavement. She breathed in deeply and closed her eyes for a second. She turned her head to the window facing the doors of the ballroom. The man next to the driver rushed out of the car to open the door for her. In a matter of seconds her door was open and a line of guards huddled together to form a tunnel for her to move. She clenched the door of the car as she stood up. Like a preserved flamenco (dancer), her body swayed gracefully with each step yet her steps were strong, hard and fast. There was something about her that had died. Something about the way she moved that resembled lost beauty.

Her black Chanel suit glistened and gleamed with badges and medals. Her suit reflected her history, her loss and her success. She had refused to wear the suit they offered to construct for her. She said she didn’t want to be bulletproof on her inauguration day. For once, she didn’t want to be a soldier. She didn’t want to present herself to the world as indestructible. She wanted to stand up in front of the world and prove that her fancy weapons and her assumed masculine physique played no role in her success; rather it was courage and bravery that held her body upright in times of danger. Her suit hugged her feminine body, molding each curve in perfect form.

She had only been here once, only once, but she will never forget that day. The day she vowed to protect her country no matter the cost; the day she disobeyed her commander.

Two years ago she was in the same exact place. As she got out of the car flashing images of guards yelling, “Al A’qida Latifa El Masry (The brigadier Latifa El Masry)” colored her memory. You could tell back then there was a sense of urgency in their tone as they announced her arrival. She remembers that day like it was yesterday. She remembers what it was like getting out of the car, how she felt when she heard the guards yelling, what she was wearing and what they were wearing.

On that day, she rushed through the palace’s doors running her thoughts through her head consistently without a second of rest. She had no time to rest when Egypt was in danger. She kept thinking of what to say when she saw him. She might have been a Brigadier but she had caught the biggest lead on a case the Egyptian Military Intelligence had pondered over for years; a case her commander ordered her to stay away from.

The giant wooden doors opened and she rushed into the room through the announcement of her name. Her adrenalin caused her to forget her courtesy and thus, she stopped to let the soldier finish announcing her name.

She walked up to his chair as he stood up to greet her. His beige suit glistened and gleamed the most. Strong and withheld from emotion, his body carried power she had never seen on anyone except her father. You could tell that he wasn’t just any man. He was the man. The one, the one she feared, but respected. He was the powerful one. He was Egypt’s leader. She saluted him and turned to salute the other him, the other man in power: the man she thought about walking through the door, her commanding General.

She turned around to see the whole room full of men that also withheld from emotion. Men that protected her country for years, they were the same men she had admired and looked up to her whole life. They were also her father’s friends and colleagues, well most of them. Those were the highest ranking military leaders of her country and she was among them. However, unlike them, she knew the truth. She knew what was about to happen.

Her tardiness alarmed the room. She already had a hard time gaining their respect because of her gender. None of them believed in her. None of them supported the decision to have her here.

She turned her head back to him, the powerful one. He gave her one look and proceeded to finish the meeting. The moment he looked at her nothing else mattered. No one else mattered. She knew she could do this because he believed she could do this. He believed in her. She gathered her thoughts and stood up from her chair. Embarrassment colored her face as she took a breath to justify her tardiness. She cleaned her throat and pulled her figure upright.

“Al Mushir (Field Marshal) Moustafa Al Azizi,” she announced as she locked eyes with the powerful one. “Fareeq (Lieutenant General) Ahmed El Sabil,” her body shivered in fear as she said his name aloud. He was the other man in power, the man that left her sleepless for nights.

“and my fellow colleagues, I apologize for keeping you waiting, but I’m not apologetic I’m late.”

Her commanding General, El-Sabil, raised his eyebrows in disbelief. He was outraged at her boldness. She had not only insisted to attend a meeting concerning a case she had been removed from but she was late and not sorry for it.

She glanced at his reaction and quickly continued before he managed to interrupt her, “because I found him.”

Silence drenched the room and for a second you could feel their hearts stop together. “When I was assigned the case number #9001295, I had the biggest case in the history of Egypt’s terroristic missions. I worked with my team day and night until we finally came to a strong lead on where he was. I approached General El-Sabil and he immediately took me off the case. I continued to work on similar cases and each time I would have the same results. Their leader would find out and would change their plans to accommodate to the actions we were prepared to take. This is why I consistently failed each and every assignment I was given this past year. I finally came to the conclusion that…” She paused and turned her head to General El-Sabil. “I had a fraud on my team.”

By that time, the room was soaking with a different kind of silence. You could see the soldiers at the back suddenly all begin to change their body language. Young and inexperienced, you could see the urgency and panic they were feeling through their eyes. Their bodies remained still but their hearts screamed with nerves. Yet, the men gathered on that round wooden table with shiny badges and medals, medals earned through blood and sweat, did not waver even a little. It took years to perfect such a skill.

She continued with a stronger firmer tone, “Their leader had insight on our bases more than we understood.”

He, the powerful one, turned his head to where General El-Sabil was sitting. The General looked back at him with anticipation. You could see his hard rough façade crumbling to the floor like crumbs separating as you cut through a slice of bread. The General finally understood.

“His insight extended to cases that some of you did not even know. He wasn’t any ordinary leader.” She finally paused and held her breath. This was it. This was her moment. Flashing images of her family’s house burning down rushed through her eyes. She saw their caskets being lifted as the soldiers carried them through the cemetery. Her fathers covered with the military’s flag. She saw him, the powerful one, but he was much younger. Pictures of newspaper headlines flashed in front of her eyes. Headlines from their accident that read ‘Brigadier Tarek El Masry and his family killed in house fire’ placed itself in the center of her sight. She continued to remember the articles written about her ‘the daughter of the former Brigadier Tarek El Masry is announced to be Egypt’s next Brigadier’. Endless thoughts and emotions sprinted through her head with each emotion granting her strength and power.

It was finally time to get her revenge. It was finally time to bring justice to what has been done to her family. She had figured out who was behind her family’s house fire and who was behind the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians. She has found the one man that haunted Egypt for years with his vile murderous acts. She was ready to finish what her father started. She was ready to expose him to the world.

She raised her gaze and directed it towards the General. She locked eye contact with him and began to read his eyes. He was in a puddle of helplessness, but she wasn’t going to soften or weaken towards him. Her thirst for his life grew each time his eyes screamed for surrender. She had no sympathy for a man that would betray Egypt.

Her brown fiery eyes penetrated his very existence. You could see the power she had over him. You could feel her presence in the room had suddenly changed.

“He is my General.”

The room drowned in silence.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

“A’qida Latifa?” Her guard whispered in agitation. She snapped back into reality realizing that her PTSD medication wasn’t strong enough to keep her focused on a day like today. She stood halfway through the tunnel the guards had formed for her unable to move a muscle. Her guard hugged her body and led her into the palace for her inauguration, something that had never happened before. Until that moment, she had never had anyone lead her. She was her only leader.

 

 

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I am a woman


“My potential doesn’t lie in my gender. My gender isn’t a reflection of my ability to change this world. I am a woman, which is irrelevant to how well I can work, how much I can achieve and how many dollars I have in my bank account.” – Farida Ezzat.

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Why ‘The Legend of the Pharoahs’ is exactly what Egypt needs.


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Credits: Mahmoud Yakut

My last blog post titled, The Legend of the Pharaohs: Why Egypt continues to stand strong in times of disorder, gave me mixed reviews. I was delighted to see that some people enjoyed reading my post regardless of their nationality or political affiliation. I was also delighted to see some readers constructively criticize my post. For both of my readers, I would like to thank you for giving me your attention. Your opinion is always welcomed here; regardless of what it is.

With that said, some readers thought my article was outrageous. I was honestly baffled. Thus, I have decided to take it upon myself to clarify a few things. I am not a 70 year old bitter women living alone.  I don’t have endless books of history piled around my apartment nor am I ignorant of the circumstances this country is currently living in.  I am a 19 year old Egyptian female that believes in her country more than anything. I understand that Egypt has seen better days. I am fully aware of the fact that my article had Egyptian achievements that date back to thousands of years ago.  Since that moment in our history, we have progressed as a nation but clearly not enough.

With my experience of living in this country, I’ve come to the realization that what Egyptians need is much more than education, health, financial support or stability. Please, do not go ahead of yourself and think that I am overlooking the importance of all of those things. Without a doubt, they are the pillars that hold together any society. However, what I have continuously experienced as a young female living in Cairo is that some people have all of those things and I am among them. I am among the 1-2 % of society that doesn’t have to worry about whether or not there will be food on the table, nor do I have to worry about the roof of my house collapsing over me because I can’t afford to buy a house in a residential area. Yet, despite our blessed situation there is still something missing among us.

It’s not financial security or health insurance; it is a lot more than that. It feels as though we have lost the will to change. Changing the situation in Egypt is going to take much more than a few years of stability and edible bread. In our situation currently, I think it’s safe to say that financial comfort can only go so far. It seems as though we have lost not just the will to change but the belief that we can change.

Egypt-protestIt is the saddest thing in the world to see people who love their country more than anything think that they aren’t good enough to change it or better yet give up entirely. Egyptians are, more than anything, optimistic people. Do not let anyone tell you other than that.

This is why I decided to write an article about who we used to be as a nation. I wrote ‘The Legend of the Pharaohs’ not to gloat about my ancestors, but rather to remind Egyptians who we used to be. In my very humble opinion, sometimes the biggest challenge in the world is not getting someone to do something, but rather getting them to believe that they can. This is why I believe that the most motivational lesson any Egyptian can ever learn is not the good parts in their present or the make believe future they can have, but rather their solid past that screams of nothing but promise and hope.

To Egyptians, Egypt has always been indestructible, but this isn’t the case today. I can’t guarantee that this country is going somewhere positive or is about to change for good. All I can do is promise you that I will never give up hope. I will never forget my past just because my present does not reflect it. I will never get bored of reading about the people who have loved, cherished and most importantly who have worked day and night to fight for my country’s freedom and liberation.

In fact, I will do everything you want me to stop doing. I promise you that my words mean much more than what you read on the surface. I am not merrily repeating something I read in a fortune cookie. I truly believe that we are in a crisis today not because of our political instability. In reality, this is all we have ever known. Go ahead and read our history; this is just the start of another year for us.  We are in a crisis because for the first time in our lives we actually don’t think we’re going to change.

t1larg.cairo_.victory.gi_This is why people needed to read my article. People needed to understand that life brings chaos and disorder. It brings famine and poverty. It brings illiteracy and greed. Life will continue to pressure you to change because change is the only constant in life. Some nations have had to fight hard to get where they are today, other nations have had better luck, but all in all every nation has hit rock bottom before. However, Egypt has experienced one rock bottom after the other; this is why we are different. With every crisis a nation experiences, you can find hundreds of those in Egypt’s history. We, as Egyptians, have fought the hardest for the longest and we are deserving of acknowledgment. Our people deserve to understand that we are different because despite everything we’ve been through we can still say that we love our country blindly and that’s more than I can say for most nations.

With most other countries, you might get change, modernization, stability and maybe even success. However, with Egypt, you get a nation that will put up damn-est fight you have ever seen you whole life. Don’t believe me? Grab your popcorn and watch how my people will fight this year and the next and the next, until we are finally liberated. We might not get there fast enough or soon enough, but I promise you that we will never stop fighting.

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The Legend of the Pharaohs: Why Egypt continues to stand strong in times of disorder


ImageIn a country that prides itself on its unparalleled history and incredible civilization, very little understand the very words uttered whenever someone says tell me about Egypt. Egypt the land of the great, the land of the world’s greatest civilization, the land of powerful warriors and charismatic leaders, the land of the strongest people and a land rich in history and culture; has yet to be recognized for what it really is. Egypt’s history invites you to witness one of the world’s greatest people that stood strong as invaders walked on its sacred grounds, that invented inventions we still use today at a time where people were still carving caves, and that fought with courage and resilience to liberate their country year after year for thousands of years.

Egypt, the country protected by the Almighty Allah, stands strong today in times of great turbulence. As always, it stands unique among all other Arab countries with a country liberated from its worst enemies and on its way to great democracy. There is a reason Egypt has not become Syria or Libya. There is a reason that until today despite the adversaries this country has seen over the past 3 years; its people are still able to smile and laugh even in the toughest of times. It’s safe to say that the Egyptian people are not among the weak or the unlucky of this planet. They are undeniably the world’s greatest people and let me tell you why.

Seven thousand years ago when the first records of the great Egyptian civilization were recorded, Egypt stood among the first people to make ancient history. As the great country became unified in 3100 BC, the world witnessed one of the oldest and most powerful civilizations develop incredibly. From 3100 BC (the start of Ancient Egypt) to 525 BC (its end), Egypt had a series of incredible historical moments making a name for itself as one of the most powerful ancient civilizations. In this incredible era we witnessed the Egyptians include features in their society that are still commonplace today. For example, their women dressed in beautiful jewelry and wigs, their men played many sports such as boxing, fencing and wrestling and their children played with dolls, board games and many other toys. They thrived to advance their society in many fields and areas through their incredible knack for inventing.

Ancient Egyptians are responsible for inventing some of the most famous monuments in the world such as the great Giza pyramids, the world’s first written language with the Mesopotamians, and the world’s first paper created from the Papyrus plant thousands of years before the Chinese invented paper. However, that is just a fraction of what the Egyptians are responsible for inventing. Ancient Egyptian inventions have influenced the world in many fields such as agriculture with the invention of their calendar that monitored the floods of the Nile and the invention of the plow. The have also influenced the world of fashion by inventing eye make-up with the application of Kohl which is still used today. They have also invented door locks which were a lot more secure than the looks invented years later by the Romans. They also invented breath-mint, toothpaste and bowling. Yes, that’s right. Egyptians invented bowling though the game was quite different back then; it still had the same elements of bowling today such as pins and a collection of balls in different sizes.

With enough information to tell you why this civilization has left an undeniable mark on the world; comes the very need to inform you of why Egyptians are the greatest people.

This civilization brought to the world some of the greatest and most powerful leaders in history. We had leaders like Thutmose III who was called the Napoleon of Ancient Egypt. Making a record for himself with zero battles lost, he was regarded as a national hero and one of the most intelligent military leaders of his time. We had some of the youngest leaders in the world where Tutankhamen inherited the throne at the age of nine. Leaders who lived twice the life expectancy age such as Ramesses II who ruled for 67 years dying at the age of 80 at a time where the average life expectancy was 40 years. We had some of the most powerful women in the world such as Hatshepsut who ruled Egypt for 21 years and declared herself as Pharaoh. She not only announced herself as leader of the nation, but she also dressed the part. She understood that in order for her to be taken seriously she must look and act the part which is why she dressed in men’s clothing. She ruled at a time where Ancient Egypt granted women the rights they deserve by giving them the right to own properties, to hold official positions, to inherit from deceased family members and to be present in court. Ancient Egypt gave women all these rights at a time where women were regarded as mere sex slaves. We also had the great Cleopatra who made Egypt, at the time, the most powerful and most prosperous civilization in the world.

As Egypt’s rich history and culture blossomed year after year, the world took notice of its incredible potential. Thus, the Egyptians began endless battles to liberate and protect their country from greedy selfish leaders who wanted nothing more than to rob the country of its beauty and prosperity. This is where Egyptians shine in the most unquestionable ways. We had pharaohs defeat invaders such Hittites and the Hyksos in Ancient Egypt. Then we had Roman Rulers, Ottoman Rulers, Byzantine Rulers, Persian Rulers, French Rulers, British Rulers and countless Egyptian dictators. Each time Egyptians rose to the challenge defeating their oppositions successfully and liberating the country over and over again. It seems as though Egyptians were born to do nothing but continuously prove to the world that they are the greatest warriors. Standing strong and courageous in times of need, Egyptians have proven to the world that they will stop at nothing in order to protect their country. No matter the adversaries that came with time such as famine, poverty, ignorance and oppression; they have not been shaken once. They remain as the only people that still shock the world despite their third-world status, weakened economies and political instabilities.

With my argument coming to an end I leave my Egyptian readers on this note. You need to understand that once you utter the words ‘I am Egyptian’ you are not just defining your nationality but you are voicing how great you are. You are fully acknowledging the fact that you belong to the world’s greatest people and you will stop at nothing to prove that. Again, this is not a call for violence this is a call for recognition.

And to my foreign readers, I urge you to read our history. Read about the countless battles of peace and war that we have fought to protect ourselves. Read about the countless beautiful Egyptian women that embody beauty for they have come to acknowledge their potential such as Hatshepsut, Cleopatra, Doria Shafick, Hoda El Shaarawi, Nabawiyya Musa, Lotfia El Nadi, Nawal El Saadawi and Sameera Moussa. Then come tell me we are not the greatest of people.

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My Thoughts on Bassem Youssef


ImageIn case you didn’t already know, Bassem Youssef is the host of ‘El Bernameg’ (‘The program’) that used to air on CBC on Friday night. Bassem Raafat Muhammad Youssef is an Egyptian cardiac surgeon, columnist, comedian and host.  In 2013, Time Magazine named him one of the “100 most influential people in the world”.

Bassem Youssef has without a doubt managed to push societal boundaries over and over again with his satirical news reporting and his consistent habit of shocking his viewers. Whether it’s making up names like “sisifore” or using sexual references to depict the political situation in Egypt, his show has succeeded to ignite controversial discourse throughout the country. He stands as the epitome of social reform whether you like it or not. His episodes have left the country torn between the conservatives and reformists. The conservatives question the talent of man that needs to use sex as his material for a satirical news program with good reason. However, the advocates of change or social reform, as I would like to call it, cannot deny that Bassem can push boundaries over the edge, but seem to have no problem with that.

As a viewer, I enjoyed the show. I cannot deny the fact that he has done what no man in this country has managed to do. He has brought laughter and wit to a time where politics made up societies daily discourse. He has managed to voice the frustration and anger of Egyptians who were tired of fascist regimes, media censorship and all in all the life of the human puppet.  He gave people hope and helped channel their anger to something a bit more positive. People enjoyed hearing the news that haunted them all week on his show so that they could get to laugh about it.

Yet, I am skeptical of the amount of sexuality on this show. Granted, he does mention in the start of his show this is not a family show. However, my argument is: When you have a man as talented as he is, do you really need to stoop that low? Does he really need to depict Egypt as a woman with low lying self-respect? My argument isn’t that respect to one’s country is above all that goes without saying; it’s just the amount of sexuality in his shows. He doesn’t need all of this to make people laugh. In my opinion, his approach to comedy, though is quite enticing; is a little cheap. Everyone knows that sex sells. I think Bassem should stop trying to sell sex and start trying to sell his talent.

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