Hey friend. I remember you telling me that Egypt is trending on Google news. I can see every other news agency and respectable newspaper writing about the current situation in Egypt. The streets are boiling with anger. Radical Islamists are pitted against the Military and Police forces. People are fighting in the streets over political parties who never represented them in the first place. People joining Islamist parties because they promise them Heaven, guys who have no dream of getting married anytime soon are promised 150 beautiful virgins in Heaven. Guys who can’t afford to buy a Pepsi can are promised rivers of honey and wine.
The poor are told to bear agony and disease, poverty and depression, the high cost of living and the high probability of death. The rich sheikh, cleric, representative of religion, carrier of the word of God, you name him, promises women an eternal life in Paradise with a husband that they may not even love but who would morph into a Brad Pitt, if she sticks by his side on Earth.
The imam cries as he prays for Muslims all across the globe and people cry after him, tears running down their cheeks. He then departs the mosque in his Lexus, reaches his villa in the North Coast, and joins his four loving wives as they massage him, feed him the baklava and the steak then wait for him to choose which one of them he will sleep with tonight.
The youngest of four wives, a 22-year-old was married to him through a matchmaker of sorts. The woman went to her mother and father, gave them a hefty sum of money, promised them payments for the little kids’ education, food and clothing only if they granted her their lovely daughter. The wife and the whole family will be blessed when the sheikh marries her, he is a symbol of Allah, a Holy entity, a sacred man who will treat her like a princess. But she has to obey him, follow his orders and follow the Islamic teachings of modesty. She is not to leave the house till she dies or if she was chosen to accompany the sheikh in one of his many travels across the universe where he leaves to spread the word of God and fights the enemies of religion as they try to lure the young men and women into the Devil’s trap.
See that young man who just came out of the mosque? He was blessed today for kissing the sheikh’s holy hand. He pleaded with the sheikh to pray for him, ask God to have mercy on him and his family. He cannot find a proper job. Although he finished med school, he is only taking L.E 250 a month and he yet has to pay for his father’s liver failure medications, he has to pay for his sister’s furnishings as she struggles with her fiance to find a proper apartment with a reasonable rent. If she gets paid L.E 900 per month and her husband is paid L.E 500 per month, how can they afford to pay the L.E 3,000 per month for a two-room apartment? The young man is taking three jobs to help his sister and yet he believes the sheikh when he tells him and his fellow faithful that this is all good. Suffering is the quality of the true Muslim, the mo’men, the one who prospers in Paradise alongside the Prophet and the Rightly Guided Caliphs.
The young man’s sister goes through battles of her own. Walking in the streets unveiled everyday is an act of bravery. She has to walk in a straight line and avert her eyes or else men would take advantage of her. Her boss at work is harassing her, but she has to grin and bear or else she would lose this prestigious job with all its benefits: social insurance, health insurance and monthly payment. She has seen what happened to her father after he was forced to make an early retirement. He was granted L.E 500 a month and couldn’t even pay all for his treatment and the open-heart surgery that he had at a lousy government hospital two years ago. A large percentage was taken from her father’s pension to pay for his health insurance yet the medications did little to aid in his recovery. They had to get more money to pay for his treatment, they borrowed from friends and family, they sold a few pieces of their furniture, but the state her father’s liver kept getting worse.
The young man’s sister’s fiance works as a sales representatives. He works 16 hours a day to sell water filters to people, he walks from morning to night on his feet, taking the casual bus or taxi. He usually sells less than his target and the money comes out of his paycheck at the end of every month. He sits at the end of the day in a traditional cafe, drinking mint tea and lamenting the days when he thought he would become a great person. He might or might not smoke weed, it depends on his mood and consciousness. He doesn’t tell his fiancee or else she would be devastated. She comes from a really religious family who believe in God whereas He has abandoned them. He dreams of passing the darkened hours of the night as slowly as possible, drenched in that beautiful coat of euphoria as he imagines taking his girl to watch a movie, spending the day on the beach and buying her a new dress. He also remembers how beautiful his mother was before the uterine cancer took the best of her and killed her when they couldn’t afford to pay the chemotherapy.
Hey friend, they say it’s a coup, they say it’s an extremist uprising, they say it’s a war on Islam. They say a lot of things about Egypt but they know nothing about the beautiful country that crushes its children’s dreams.
Written by: Jaylan Salah