30 January, 2011

Don't believe the hype

As usual, some news outlets and talking heads are freaking out at images of Arabs rising up. Usually, these are the same folks who equate the word Arab with the word Muslim and the word Muslim with the word terrorist.
This is an uprising of all Egyptians: Muslim, Christian and everybody else.
I'm not claiming expert status in any way. I'm not Tunisian, not Egyptian, not Yemeni....They're your experts. I'm just somebody who's lived in the region, loves and respects the people and is working hard to get back there for good. That said, I want to address those who are jumping on the Al Qaeda, Islamic extremist, "trying to bring back the Caliphate" bandwagon in their comments about what happened in Tunisia and is unfolding in Egypt.

Nothing is ever simple and life is painted in grays. That said, there is a lot that doesn't get discussed out the region in the US media.

You know what Tunisia's revolt was about? Rights & poverty. A socio-economic situation so bad a young man with a college education, Mohamed Bouazizi, who could only find work selling produce in the streets, set himself on fire in desperate protest. He died a few days later of his injuries and a lot of us wish he had lived to see what followed.
You want to know what Egypt's about? Rights & poverty. About HALF the population lives in poverty. You want to understand why some people torched police stations? Google Khalid Saeed and see what happened to him (and countless others) in police custody.

This isn't a religious uprising, it's a HUMAN one.

As to the chaos, reports from on the ground from actual people are reporting that the people are organizing themselves to deal with things. The people of Egypt and the MENA have had to find ways to make life work no matter what for centuries. They've gotten pretty damn good at it. There's a slight flavor of post-Katrina coverage to some of these reports and that's not good.

Nobody has any idea how this will all shake out. I sure don't. Though it seems more and more pundits are saying there's no way Hosni can stay. Also, extra factoid of the day, his new VP ran OUR country's secret rendition program in Egypt. Goodness, I can't fathom why the people aren't satisfied with this shuffling of the deck.

Just please don't listen to folks who are all about "bringing democracy to the Middle East" via invasions, but loose it when people rise up and try to get it for themselves. Things don't happen in a vacuum. We've given billions in aid to many of these repressive governments, Egypt first and foremost. People there do not hate us. This is what I have to explain most often and will keep saying it until people really get it. However, they sure don't get our schizoid policies - speaking about democracy while propping up dictators. And they sure don't like getting pelted with tear gas canisters that read "Made in the USA".

Anyway, for what it's worth...
Power to the people.

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