September 11 Remembered…in the Wake of the Egyptian Elections
September 11 was a beginning for a swirl of events; many believe could have been avoided if the US did not start its war on terror. Worse could have been possible, if September 11 wake up call did not happen in a world that believes in co-existence, peace and equal opportunity for all. True, many terrorist acts are still happening in the entire world but I believe we are in a much better situation after the close down of the playground of terrorism in Afghanistan. Some of our ancestors paid their lives for reasons, whether justified or not, like a wars or accidents and now we are threatened to fall victims for a merciless ideology that does not share any values of the accumulated legacy of humanity.
Being a Middle Eastern citizen who grew up in Egypt and is claiming to be impartial, I like to see life in its true colors. I have tried to assess my experience with September 11 and the relationship of the Egyptian people with the US. As many questions are already posed on many people in the Middle East Zone on why terrorism is being exported from this particular region, I am also asking myself the same questions. I find first of all that Arabs, a word I am trying to avoid because it deprives many peoples living in the Middle from their innate right to be anything but Arabs, waiving all their ecological rights, have a problem with defining terrorism. I find that many Muslims fail to question Islam’s shortcomings unlike Christianity and Judaism which were subjected to reasonable questioning. It is true that extremism does exit in every creed but not to the extent of blowing the self up in a children’s school bus while believing of going to paradise. I find most Egyptians are enchanted by US products and lifestyle while failing to share some of values of the American life. I remember when McDonald’s first opened in Cairo in the early 90s, there was a long queue of people waiting in the street to be served. I remember when I was at school; there was a daily American serial on the Egyptian TV channels. It was a race among many of my class mates to repeat parts of the dialogue of last night’s episode with the same American accent. I find that many Egyptians die to study or work in the US which is part of what many world citizens call the American Dream whether they admit it or not that this is the case. In Garden City where the US embassy seat in Cairo, it is very common to see daily long queues of relentless young Egyptians trying to get visas to the US. I find that the American singers and songs are very popular on all Arabic TV satellite channels. I find that many Egyptians are so proud of their other family members who made to the US. I find that American food chains, jeans brands, cars and movies are popular among Egyptians. I saw how responsive Egyptians are to the calls of freedom and democracy by President Bush in the ME. Egyptians started all those anti-Mubarak demonstrations under the protection of the US call for freedom. I remember in 1997, three Egyptian journalists were sentenced to 3 years in prison including a Saudi citizen because they wrote in the Saudi newspaper Alsharq Alasawt about the Mubarak’s sons’ wealth whereabouts. It was not a detailed article. The newspaper was confiscated and banned in Egypt for years. Yesterday in the streets of Cairo, demonstrators were shouting loud “Mubarak batil batil”, which means in Arabic Mubarak is illegitimate.
It is so confusing to see at the same time that some Egyptians are still calling the US as an enemy supporting a Zionist enemy. I have only one reasoning that the ideology of hatred that is attacking the values of the humanity embodied in the western world is attacking the minds of the peoples in Middle East. I think it is done on purpose. I guess there is a secret hand flaring up this ideology by oppressing civil and legal rights hence, giving a chance to other ideologies to flourish that do not interact with the rest of the world’s principles. It is the same hand that has all the interest to remain in power regardless of the people’s will or interests.
I am seeing the only way to bring the peoples in the Middle East to the track of a decent life is to bring hope by restoring the will and freedom to be part of their societies and the decision-making processes. The hope will bring back their dignity that will make them want to be stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the citizens of the world.
The war on terrorism is not limited to attacking terrorist strongholds but finding the reasons why these strongholds are there. Is also by asking why the number of mosques in Egypt is exceeding those in Iran when we are not an Islamic republic, who is the responsible when liberals are banned on the Egyptian TV channels…etc. What are the executive bodies that work on destructing the youth in Egypt by feeding them this ideology? Who is responsible for building a L.E. 1.5 million mosque that is one kilometer away from thousands of stranded Egyptians that are taking cemeteries as a home?
As the US and the American people remember their beloved ones who fell as victims for terrorism, the US must continue to remember that the perpetrators of September 11 thrived under the leadership of the Arab dictators that the US consider allies and that this ideology of hatred will continue to grow as long as they are there. The US must remember those that stand in the long queues in front of its embassies, not by giving them visas but ensuring a decent lives for them at homes by stopping calling their oppressors as allies.
My prayers for the innocent victims of terrorism; Beslan School, New York, Washington, Sharm El-sheikh, Taba, London, Madrid, Iraq and Afghanistan. You will always be remembered, never forgotten.
"In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved," Franklin D. Roosevelt.