On June 23, 2014, Sisi’s vision of “Egyptian democracy” were made obvious when AlJazeera journalists Peter Grest, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Ghorab and several other journalists (some in absentia) were sentenced from 7 to 10 years for doing their journalistic duties.
This sentencing comes despite complete lack of evidence of any threat to Egypt’s national security. This also comes after US Secretary of State, John Kerry visited Egypt’s President on the matter and of course, the issuance of military aid from the US, a total of half a billion US tax dollars.
Family, friends, supporters and journalists were forcefully removed from the courts after the hearing. Several images on Twitter have shown police angrily placing hands on camera lenses and chasing people out of the entrances. After going a few steps forward on January 25, 2011, Egypt has now gone several hundreds steps back on June 23, 2014.
I still have hope and know deep down that this not the end of the revolution. The struggle remains, the voices louder, the revolution continues.
If most of you have this odd love/hate relationship with the Huffington Post as yours truly, I’m sure most of you read Lacy Morris’ latest article in HP’s Travel, 30 Things Travelers Must See and Do Before They’re 30. Aside from making me feel slightly under accomplished at 31 (Thanks a lot Lacy), I felt the urge to share my comments publicly for each of the listed items Lacy listed. I’ll only post the list (bolded) but you can click here to read Lacy’s full article.
1. Jump off something.
Right after you Lacy!!
2. See one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Accomplished! =) I’m from the great city of San Francisco so I’ve been blessed to have enjoyed some of the modern wonders like the Golden Gate Bridge amongst others on a regular basis, Alhamdulillah. (I miss you SF!) When I was 19 years old, I worked two jobs (yes that’s 2 jobs, 7 days a week!) to save and pay for my Mama and I to go to Egypt in April of 2001 where I experienced the longest surviving wonder of the world, the Pyramids of Giza. I went again in 2011 after the revolution and experienced history in the making… another world wonder in my book.
3. Party in Las Vegas.
Unless you’re paying for it Lacy, I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on a slice of Sin City.
4. Take a vacation that isn’t Spring Break.
Accomplished! Never did a Spring Break type deal so my trip to Egypt (see number 2) counts.
5. Attend at least one large celebration.
Accomplished! Every year I attend Ramadan gatherings and Eid prayers. Trust me, it’s a fabulous celebration with clothed, sober people! I invite you Lacy to join us in SF when I return for a visit from Qatar to celebrate Eid! (You’re also welcome to experience Qatar and add it to your list!)
6. Hit up a nude beach. I laughed to tears at this number! One, I’m from San Francisco, home of Baker Beach and never even considered checking that nudity out. Two, I’m a happily covered-up Muslim so the idea of going out without my hijab, let alone naked is extremely laughable.
7. Spend several days with only what will fit in a backpack. Lacy, let’s hear about your days with only what will fit in your backpack.
8. Swim in the ocean.
I can’t swim but I’ve visited several beaches during my travels so… semi-accomplished!
9. Sleep somewhere where you have to light a fire to stay warm.
Lacy, YOU sleep somewhere where you have to light a fire to stay warm!
10. Do some sort of adrenaline sport.
I moved to another country at 30 on my own dime… doesn’t that count Lacy?
11. Hit up one of the Caribbean islands.
Are you going to pay that for Lacy? If so, let’s go and it can be “31 things I can do before I’m 32!”
12. Take one ultimate road trip.
Accomplished! I’ve done several road trips from SF to LA and back, the last one being when I was 29. When I was 24, along with my Mama and sister, we road tripped from NY to the Carolinas and back. I do not recommend anyone to do that drive… ever!
13. Go somewhere alone.
Accomplished! My first flight alone was a training in Michigan at 20 then getting paid through my freelance work throughout California and parts of the US before I traveled and moved to the Middle East. I emphasize that those trips within the US were paid for by a third party otherwise I wouldn’t have ever been able to afford it as a college student. I doubt anyone under 30 can travel alone without a friend who can at least help split the costs of hotels and food.
14. Take a train somewhere.
I’d like to take the Trans-Siberian Railway (across Russia) like in Paulo Coelho’s Aleph. Let’s go Lacy, your treat! 😉
15. Go to a music festival.
I love music and have organized a few concerts but I’ve had dumb drunk people ruin one too many shows for me. You want me to go to a music festival where drunkenness is encouraged? No thanks!
16. Have one iconic Americana experience.
I’m a Muslim Arab American whom has traveled through USA airports… if that ain’t enough “Americana” experience then what the hell is?
17. Go to at least one of the Smithsonian museums.
Now that’s on my list but I haven’t set an age deadline for it.
18. Summit a mountain.
San Francisco Twin Peaks, that should count… and I know how to get myself back down too!
19. Be able to name your top five dream vacations.
Wait, I thought this was a list of travel experiences we should have accomplished before 30, not draft them out. I’m confused Lacy…
20. See a game at a classic ballpark.
San Francisco turned the classic Candlestick Park into Monster Park (a football field) before I could afford to start going to cheer on my world champs, the SF Giants.
21. Visit a neighbor to our north or south.
Yea I would’ve, really, but no one wanted to pay for it.
22. Do something so adventurous that it requires a doctor’s visit.
Accomplished! Took my Hep C shots at 19 before my trip to Egypt. (How sad is that?)
23. Save pennies to go somewhere you really want to go.
FYI Lacy, it cost more than 200 pennies to go down the street.
24. Go to New York City.
Semi-Accomplished! I have family in New Jersey and NY’s Staten Island so we’ve done the ferry rides and walked some parts of Manhattan. I have yet to stand in the middle of Time Square or eat from NY’s famed Halal Food Trucks/Carts. I did bus it between Brooklyn and Staten Island, but no subway rides.
25. Sleep under the stars.
Never done it but during trips to NJ, my grandparents had a nice front lawn where we gathered during those hot summer nights over good conversation and star gazed before the mosquitoes kicked us out.
26. Eat an iconic city meal.
I’m from San Francisco… all the iconic meals come to us damn it!
27. Know all of the best places to take tourists in your home city.
Accomplished! One place tourists should go to in San Francisco aside from the 49 mile scenic drive is a small lovely corner in the heart of the city called Maiden Lane where some really nice spots to eat are located! You’re welcome Lacy!!
28. Have one close encounter with a wild animal.
I have three brothers, one sister and 3 cats split between two countries… that’s enough wild animal encounters for me.
29. Do something you can’t tell your parents about.
No comment… my Mama reads this! =P
30. Know a dance well enough that you could keep up with the locals.
Accomplished! When I was in fifth grade, I was part of the cultural dance troupe where I learned Chinese Ribbon Dancing, Irish Celtic Step Dance and traditional East African Tribal Dances to name a few… I still carry and remember everything I learned in that troupe to this day… best year of my elementary life!
Happy Eid everyone! I pray you are all enjoying the blessed Eid AlAdha weekend.
As for me, right now, I’m spending the wee hours of the morning in Terminal 2 of the Dubai International Airport (DXB) for my bi-monthly visa turnaround, an attempt to renew my “visitor” visa, hopefully for the last time. Tomorrow marks four months since I’ve landed in Doha, Qatar. Four long, exhausting, fulfilling, exciting and at some point dangerous months. In the last four months, I’ve been caught up with work, trying to get settled into a place I can call my own and develop some form of a social life.
As of a few weeks ago, I attempted to get back to my short work outs and walks just to keep my energy level up. Recently I was able to some how get back to reading Aleph by Paulo Coelho which was my first non-food purchase in Qatar. The other day, a cute little kitty followed me half way home and adopted me. With all the time I have on my hands right now before I check out the tiny duty free section, I shall rant away at some of the events that have taken place in my first four months in Qatar…
Cool British Accent — After calling a few landlords to inquire about available apartments for rent, I received a text message (or SMS as it’s called here) stating how one very nice man liked my “really cool British accent”. I had to respond because I thought this was a joke but it turns out, that wasn’t the case. I mentioned how I wasn’t British but thanks for the kind words. His exact response (misspellings and all), “I want us to get to know echother more and I promis you I get you discount in very nice apartment. ;-)” I didn’t even know how to respond without being rude so I left it at that. However, a few more call outs over a course of a few days garnered me 3 more similar SMS’ and 2 call backs asking about my marital status.
I did realize that with all of them, I had spoken straight English. To test out the theory that if I spoke in Arabic none of this would’ve happened, I called back some of these same people speaking in my great Egyptian dialect. Of course as always, I was right! Over the course of my search, I now speak only in Arabic unless English is necessary. Now my hurdle is having someone rent out to a single lady but that’s for post.
Right now, I’m not getting much compliments on my British accent.
I Swear They’re Real — Shopping and minding my own business one day, I caught a young lady looking me up and down. I flashed her a smile and we exchanged “salams”. No little chit chat, she just straight up asked me, “Where did you get your chest and lips done?”
“God, this is all done by God.”
“They’re real? No silicone? No surgery? Padded bra?” she whispers.
“Nope, just good wholesome fat!” I whispered back giggling with the gal. I showed her that all I’ve had “done” was my lip piercing. She’s still fascinated that I haven’t had any work done. She started telling me about how she’s debating getting her chest done before she gets married. I advised her against it and to work with what she’s got rather than agonize over it. Of course, the decision is hers and I had to remind her that no one gets the final say over her body but her.
Twenty minutes after our conversation, we crossed paths where she flashed me a smile and whispered to another lady walking with her. I’m sure she’s caught up on our little conversation. I couldn’t get my wholesome fat ass out of there fast enough.
Yes, I Can Be Both — In my recent dealings with people, I’ve noticed this odd form of racism and need for a nationalistic identity. I have friends that were born and raised in Qatar but they can never call themselves Qataris. They don’t even have a Qatari passport and every year must renew their legal status in the country. I know the government is working on changing these laws (for economical and sports reasons) but my question is, “when exactly?” The idea of keeping it as pure as possible is a bit far fetched to the point of silliness in my opinion. Remember, historically the people of Qatar came from either Saudi Arabia or Iran.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being proud of your nationality, your heritage and it being part of your identity. However, there’s a difference between being proud and being arrogant; enforcing your opinion of one’s identity.
In dealing with Arabs, particularly Egyptian expatriates here in Qatar, they make it seem as if I can only pick one identity, either I’m Egyptian or I’m American. I just look them straight in the face and say, “but I’m both, proudly so.” I’ve even had arguments with random strangers after it was noted that I shouldn’t identify myself as an American.
For the record, I was born in San Francisco, California, USA. My father immigrated from Egypt in the 70’s and my mother followed suit after they got married. To deny myself the right to identify as both an Egyptian American would not be doing myself justice nor my parents for the many dreams they had for their family in America.
Just because most of the world, including Americans believe it or not, don’t agree with some of the American foreign policies, doesn’t mean that we simply drop our identity as Americans. We are a nation that prides itself in being a melting pot. We come from all over the world, united with ideals and dreams. It is those ideals and dreams that has made the heart and soul of what is good in America today.
Last night it was announced by President Obama that Osama bin Laden (OBL) was killed via a secret CIA mission. He got a bullet to the head, washed up and buried at sea. As I watched the people gather at the White House to rejoice over the news, I was a bit disturb.
Was justice served?
The president in his statement reminded us of the 3,000 plus lives lost on September 11, 2001 which was supposedly masterminded by OBL. He forgot to mention that many of them were not just Americans but individuals from around the world. I remind you that the majority of casualties died at the World Trade Center where several organizations from around the world were located.
He also reminded us that in response to this attack, we’ve lost many young men and women in uniform while many more are now learning to live with their injuries. May I remind you that many in the military now, including those who’ve lost their lives in the battle, may have been too young to remember this attack.
While our president mentioned that OBL was a mass murder who killed many citizens including Muslims. He forgot to mention that in response to this mass murderer, without the support of many in the world, the US went has been in longest running double war in Afghanistan and Iraq. This response murdered more citizens then OBL did in his lifetime. Theses wars has made several million people refugees who may or may not be able to one day return to their homes.
And since a person’s life may not be as valuable to all of us, the US has spent over $1.5 trillion dollars in this nine year long game of hide and seek.
May I remind you that the only beneficiary of these wars continue to be the oil companies that keep raising prices and companies with US military contracts such as Halliburton? You know, that one fat company owned by our previous fat VP?! Yea, that one!
Personally, I would have rather OBL be caught alive and tried for crimes against humanity… at least then, maybe this whole thing would be a bit more believable. I know many of us welcome the news but also wonder it came at a time when the people of the Middle East have risen loud and proud against their oppressors… Just saying!
Violence always begets violence, so let’s pray this news does not bring forth any OBL wanna-be’s. Let’s also pray this doesn’t bring forth any violent or hate responses as we’ve already got word of such thing happening against a mosque in Portland, Maine.
In the meantime, I’ll believe that justice was served when the president’s next statement is that we are FINALLY going to get out of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq… I’m pushing it, right?