Young Egyptians yearn for a new Egypt

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was expelled from the presidential palace in Cairo in the middle of the night.

By
July 4, 2013 20:12
3 minute read.
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi throw Molotov cocktails and stones

Egypt protester throws molotov cocktail 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was expelled from the presidential palace in Cairo in the middle of the night; one moment he was the president of the strongest Arab country, and then all of a sudden he was nowhere to be found.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been waiting for its turn to lead Egypt for more than 80 years. For decades its members lived under the rule of despots, until exactly one year ago they took control of Egypt with almost no resistance whatsoever. And now, there has been a dramatic turn of events, maybe even historic, which once again gives us hope.

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Muhammad Ali, in contrast to Morsi, had the opposite experience this week. Ali, who was born in Egypt, is 51 years old and has been living in Israel for 13 years. For years he worked as a tour guide for an Israeli tour agency, bringing thousands of tourists to visit Egypt. He was called a traitor by his Egyptian colleagues, but remained proud of his work. When his Egyptian passport was taken from him, Ali was stuck in Israel with no identification papers for years. And then this week, Ali received a call from the Interior Ministry telling him that he was finally being granted permanent status in Israel.

“I couldn’t believe my ears!” Ali told me in polished Hebrew. I just sat down and cried. All of these years I’ve had no identity. But now I’ve been given my life back.”

Ali told me that the Muslim Brotherhood never had much support in Egypt.

When I asked him how it is that they came into power, he answered, “It’s simple. The Egyptian people wanted Mubarak out.

That’s all they were interested in. No one thought about what would happen the day after. No one thought it could get any worse. So after Mubarak left, all the scoundrels came out of hiding. You have to understand – the Egyptians were like prisoners who had spent their entire lives in jail and then one day, they are set free. That’s how it was at Tahrir Square. And now they are paying the price.”



So what’s going to happen now, I ask Ali.

Who can bring Egypt stability? Can you promise the next president that after six months he won’t get thrown out if the people get tired of him? “No one knows what the future holds,” Ali admits. “But I don’t think it could possibly get any worse. Look, you have to speak with some of these young people.

And not just in Egypt – all over the Arab world. They’re tired of living like this. They dream of a new world. And they see what’s happening in Israel. They don’t want to live in a ghetto under lock and key anymore.

The social networks on the Internet are bursting with posts from Egyptians who are incredibly curious about what’s happening in other countries. It’s a new world. They don’t want a world that is secular or liberal or religious or Islamist or run by a military. They want a normal country. The Egyptian people seek peace.”

So, let’s try to stay with this hopeful message from Cairo. At least for one weekend.

Let’s hope that people in Tehran and Istanbul and around the world also hear this message.

And let’s pray that the Americans, who are supposed to be the responsible grownups here and the official cheerleaders of freedom in the world, will wake up and finally be able to distinguish between good and bad, between hope and despair.

Democracy is a great goal. But sometimes it can turn into a trap. Although Morsi was elected in a free vote, logic should have superseded the letter of the law. Instead of ordering US diplomats to hastily leave Cairo, US President Barack Obama should have gotten on his plane on Wednesday, flown to Cairo and given the real “Cairo speech.”

But the Americans have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity in the Middle East, so we shouldn’t rely on them too much. Instead we should pray for the young, hopeful Egyptians who yearn for a different life. They are the real future of Egypt.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.

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