Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I shouldn't be writing this right now; there is no point in telling any of you this story. Nothing about my situation will change, I'm not leaving the country, yet I know it'll cause you to worry unduly. It's been churning in my mind all day, ever since I heard about it last night, and, at first, incredulously, did not believe it. While I was tackling mountains in Siwa, there was a mass rape on Talaat Harb during the first day of Eid. Funny, isn't it, how news is hermetically supressed in Cairo? Yes, on the main thoroughfare in Cairo, in broad daylight, gangs of hundreds of men, angry because there were not enough available at the Metro movie theatre, turned into a salacious, salivating, perverted creature that moved as one and pounced on any female nearby, veiled or unveiled, Muslim or Non-Muslim. Tearing her clothes, they groped and violated her and then left her and moved on to the next victim. Here is a link to a more detailed account:

Some will claim this is fabricated, despite the overwhelming eyewitnesses and photos of the assault. Many, many things disturb me about this story, perhaps because I walk on that street, AUC walks on that street. The Cairo Khan hotel/dorm is about 5 minutes walk from the movie theatre, and one of the easiest routes to campus is down Talaat Harb. Yes, there is a shuttle bus to campus, but it runs infrequently at best, but did AUC choose to inform anyone about this egregious act, no! I, like almost everyone else, learned about it from the Egyptian blogosphere, and only today were there two very small articles in one of the 'indepedent' newspapers about the incident. Did Al-Jezeera report on it , no did CNN or BBC, no, because the inane and utterly corrupt Egyptian government threatened all of the news agencies. How do you function in a society that condones mass rape, that, rather than punishing the officers who turned a blind eye to the events, claim it never happened because there were no reports filed? Does this cycle ever end? How has the Egyptian government so effectively stymied all opposition that a women's talk show guest has to be the first person to actually discuss it on television?
What do we do from here? How can you here those incessant catcalls and not wish to throttle the harasser's throat? Yes, Muslim society is extremely sexually repressed, and, as sex is not just frowned upon, but almost non-existent, outside of marriage, there are lots of lonely men out there. Where do you lay the blame-on Islam, on Egypt's government, on men themselves, on the police, on anyone who watched but did nothing?
We read a poem today in Arabic, dealing with the Palestine/Israeli conflict, and the author asks where does it all begin? And where will it all end?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here is a great story I would like to share with you. The author is unknown.
This is a nice story.
I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.
Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" She snorted...."Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, and the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs.
Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. "

Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge.. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open.
Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night , I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care....
And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!

Aunt Betty