How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

An Egyptian American blogger's take on the crisis through two different lenses

Photo by Asim Bharwani/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A Egyptian solidarity demonstration outside the federal building in West Los Angeles on Saturday, January 29, 2011

The blog Muslim Matters has an interesting post from a second-generation Egyptian American who was born in the United States but raised in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, giving him unique perspective on the anti-government demonstrations rocking Egypt.

It's been a week since the start of protests in the capital city of Cairo, with thousands of people clogging the streets to demand democratic reforms and the resignation of president Hosni Mubarak, a close ally of the United States but regarded by many in his country as a dictator.

Identified as Haytham, the author, a 28-year-old activist and graduate student who lives in New Mexico and occasionally posts on the site, contrasts his reaction as an Egyptian to the crisis with how it is viewed, he writes, "through an American lens."

From his take "through an Egyptian lens," he writes:

The Egyptian government has been relying on fear to rule its people with an iron fist.

The fear has now been lifted.

I spent 13 years of my life in Egypt and I understand this fear – a nagging worry that one might be detained indefinitely with no court date or legal representation. Almost every Egyptian is aware of such horror stories, people jailed due to “civil-disobedience” or other politically-driven charges. Even with this backdrop, Egyptians are standing up to make their voices heard.

...Some people claim that the Egyptian protest, named by protesters as the “Day of Anger,” is due to poverty or lack of economic opportunity, but I believe this is incorrect. This protest is a reaction to the lack of dignity prevalent throughout Egypt, where people are not able to live as human beings. It is due to the feeling of having no rights and of being a slave to the state.


And through "an American lens," he reacts to recent remarks made by Vice President Joe Biden (who regarding Mubarak said during a PBS NewsHour interview that he would "not refer to him as a dictator") and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who remarked last week that the Egyptian government was "stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people"):
For your information, Mr. Biden, Mubarak has been ruling Egypt since 2 years before I was born and I am 28!

...The stability of Egypt, of course, is very important to the United States. Think about it like this, Egypt is to the Middle East what America is to the rest of the world; everybody looks up to her and what she does. This applies to politics, art, education, and especially entertainment. This gives Egypt very good leverage. If Egypt is not stable, the whole region may become destabilized and this is alarming to other tyrannical governments in the region.


In recent days, Egyptian Americans in U.S. cities have staged solidarity rallies in support of the protesters in Egypt, including one held Saturday in Los Angeles.
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