Ahmed (name of fantasy) maintains Cairo is in a very deep depression due to the black years after the 2011 Revolution. It’s disgraceful. It’s Muslim Brotherhood party and Morsi’s leadership fault, he says to me (he always talk to me, my wife is not considered even after I explain she is a post-doc, and I explain what a postdoc, and a PhD, are…). We are spending two nights as honey moon at Cairo and our tourist guide, Ahmed, is particularly happy to talk Italian. He actually haven’t worked in the last two years, and didn’t visit the places he used to work in as a guide (Pyramids and the Musuem for instance). Nor he made much more than watching Italian television (poor man, even though he believes it is better than the Spanish one!). He looks enthusiastic. He was an active man during the Tahir Square movements and unrest, wishing for a new Egypt. He considers himself a lefty man, but now many friends of his unfriended him over facebook, even harshly, because he turned to believe that patriotism is necessary and good. Nasser is the common hero and lighthouse: the “enlighten socialism” is still strong and not overcome. But what is the political present is a matter of clash of opinions. What is sure, Cairo looks bad and hyper-militarized.
President Al Sisi is good to him, he has a vision. There is democracy now in Egypt. In fact Al Sisi got both Presidency and Parliament, he explains. Moreover, Muslim Brotherhood was declared illegal. He barely uses nasty words to define the Muslim Brotherhood, but he doesn’t lose his coolness and politeness. The passage from free elections with Morsi winning and the necessity to come back to military regime is skipped, in his long monologues.
Democracy is better to be in army’s hands. They might have some limits, sometimes they are shortsighted, or close-minded. How they can have a vision under these circumstances is not discussed. Nor the issue of Mubarak is touched.
Ahmed explains carefully and professionally the monuments, but pyramids were built by salary people. These workers were paid with food and shelters, and sometimes they got free of charge prostitutes. All. Permanent and fixed-term (usually peasants) personnel. I think this argument is connected with his declaration that Israel is the cancer of the whole region. Maybe a malignant or benign one, but still a cancer, he maintains. I may even agree to some extent that Israel made and makes mistakes, but I wouldn’t sustain such a term. But it’s hard to filling oneself in his tornado goodwill to explain the Cairo city.
Passing alongside the Italian embassy he says that if he had to go to Italy he has rather to claim a visa in Greek or German embassies, otherwise he would get angry to labor the issue. We don’t get why, nor we can’t understand why he doesn’t realize this is offensive to us. I guess this is because he believes to have the right, as a tourist, to have a women dressed with burka (While he hadn’t this right if he worked there, being paid by the “guesting” country). Aren’t you guested anyway if you are a tourist, or you pay the right to do what you want if you are paying? I confess that according to the fact that I’m having (more or less) my way of life here in Egypt, I can see his point. However I strongly believe that burka should be forbidden in western countries (in public spaces, of course). More simply, perhaps his disappointment is connected to his three love stories with Italian girls that went into rust. Who knows…
In any case it is weird to listen that he cares about his woman dressing. Few hours before he was cautious to explain that in Islam women are suggested, and not obliged, to dress a veil. Women are expected, not men. So why a man pays so much attention? This contradiction is fine but the day after the dromedary’s episode at the pyramids complex is much funnier.
To be continued…
(This pic is a touristic postcard style; the reality is pretty different. For truth you’ll have to wait few days, please)