Egypt: The Word from the Streets

by Bob Cavalcante

Egypt Protest AFP

This was a historical day for Egypt. Officially a national holiday, “Police Day” was redubbed Egypt’s “Day of Revolution”, celebrated with the first anti-government protests of this magnitude in decades. AFP

As someone who lived and worked in Alexandria, Egypt for the last year and was in Alex when Khaled Said was assassinated by the corrupt police; witnessed the running gunfights outside my apartment window every night for the past week; saw every day non-political and non-protesting Egyptians stay up all night protecting their streets with bats, clubs, chains, knives and anything they could get their hands on to defend against the police thugs; and was recently evacuated by my company and the US government; I can tell you exactly what the protests started over but it seems that nobody wants to hear the truth. It’s about STATE and POLICE corruption that holds an iron boot on the necks of ordinary Egyptians. Of course, every group with an agenda is trying to hijack the movement, such as the MB or Hamas, but the people of Egypt will not stand for it. I can say unequivocally that every Egyptian I met HATES Hamas, HATES Islamists, HATES extremism, HATES the Muslim Brotherhood, HATES Mubarak and his henchmen police, HATES foreign interference.

I watched devout Muslims link arms around the Coptic Christian churches after the New Year’s Day church bombing so their brother Egyptians could pray in peace. Last Friday I watched the same Coptic Christians link arms around the mosques so their brother Egyptians could pray in peace.

Google “Khaled Said” and find the videos. Do you own research like I did. Speak to actual Egyptians like I did, move to Egypt and live amongst these wonderful people that have been beaten down by their police and government for 30 years.

Ye, we backed Mubarak because one half of him was a skilled statesman and diplomat. But the other side is a corrupt, evil and vile dictator that disregards the lives of his own people and only sees them as a means to his own personal ends and a way to fatten his friends wallets.

Yes, AJ has reported equally on the Christian murders and all the other secular happenings. I know because they and the BBC were our primary media over there and it reflected exactly what I heard from all the Egyptians I knew and worked with from the guy that picks through the garbage cans on the corner every morning to the Egyptian Admirals I worked with every single day. Did you hear that AJ had reporters arrested, gear destroyed and licenses pulled in Egypt during these protests? I doubt it. Did you hear that the Egyptian govt blocked their Al Jazeera Arabic because they were spreading too much truth about the protests? I doubt it. Did you know they had to switch satelites just to keep broadcasting? Probably not.

Let’s talk about BAKSHEESH for a minute. That word means “tip” or “bribe”. The average Egyptian Police officer earns about 240 LE (Egyptian pounds) per month. That’s about $36 depending on the exchange rate and it’s far below the $60/mo UN poverty rate. So how do they make ends meet and pay the bills? Simple, they take bribes – baksheesh. In doing so, they slowly degrade and erode away the structure of their society and this goes from the poorest beggars to the richest businessmen in Egypt.

People there work TWO or THREE jobs to make ends meet. We lived in a very rich area called Roushdy with Federal Judges, Doctors, Generals, Admirals and many consulates in our building and neighborhood. The pharmacy downstairs was always staffed with a doctor. A real, licensed and practicing doctor, many whom were educated in America. They had to work a second job because they earned 3000-5000 LE per month ($517 – $862). Why? Because the government takes so much of what they earn they have no other choices. Two to three jobs are commonplace. The people of Egypt are a warm, loving, family oriented and passionate people and they are not willing to trade one form of slavery for another. They are not willing to trade masters and they will not. I can guarantee that and I pity any one that tries. The future of Egypt is her youth and they are intelligent, bright and very secular and they want what they now see that most other nations have. Why? Well, because in just the past 5 years, more and more Egyptians have access to the internet and to satellite TV and now that they’re seeing how things are everywhere else, they see just how wrong things were right at home and they’re fed up. These college students who have traveled abroad and are now protesting see what they have and see what they could be and they want more for themselves, more for their families and more for their nation. They want freedom, not more slavery.

Every report I’ve seen since our return to America the past 3 days has been just a sliver of the truth designed to form opinions one way or the other and so far from the truth that I witnessed with my own eyes. It’s actually pathetic and sad but in the age of the internet, there are no excuses for this type of ignorance.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own truth. God’s blessings everyone and pray for the people of Egypt. The every day, hard working, family loving people of Egypt that just want to be left alone.

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