CAMPUS MAGAZINE: How Secure is Secure?

Date posted: May 1, 2008

Sunday 6 April – 7:45 PM – mom calls
Mom: Are you home?
Me: Yes
Mom: Why did you say this on OTV?
Me: Say what?
Mom: Your publisher was kidnapped … in prison … no second chances … you are talking about politics!!!!!!!!
Me: Me? Politics? I talked about a man who was kidnapped under his building and his fianc?e had no clue where he was.
Mom: This is just none of your business … now I am worried about you.
Me: Don't worry … I did not do anything wrong.
Mom: If they come and take you … who should I call?
Me: (Laughter)

9:15 PM – mom calls
Mom: Are you home?
Me: Yes
Mom: Ok … take care.

11:00 PM – mom calls
Mom: Are you home?
Me: (Annoyed) Yes!
Mom: Ok … good night.

2:00 AM – mom calls
Mom: Are you home?
Me: (Shouting) Where do you think I will be?
Mom: (Crying) I have no clue!

I was never interested in politics. I never cared for politicians. I was never bothered with Iraq, Palestine, Iran, or even Egypt. In my attempt to track my apathy I have reached down the abyss of my psyche and touched base with my father's preaching and teaching; first of all, I cannot recall one time when politics was discussed in our house – we have been through the assassination of Sadat, Mubarak's regime, Regan, Bush Senior, Clinton, Bush Junior, Iraq-Iran war, Palestinian cause, Iraq-Kuwait invasion, terrorism, Luxor massacre, all sorts of bombs, US-Iraq attacks, and many more local and international incidents but I cannot think of one comment or one discussion involving politics.

"3eyal seya3" – vagabonds – was the description the fitted all incidents. Demonstrations were categorized as a waste of time and effort and demonstrators were a bunch of "3eyal seya3". Unions were to be boycotted altogether be it school unions, university unions, or any other union that is voicing any opinion. The basic rule was: why bother when the fire is not in your house? Walk by the wall and you shall never get hurt and will never get in trouble. Making a living, schooling, eating, and mating were the main drives for waking up in the morning.

What is my mom fussing about? I am an Egyptian citizen who does not know the number of ministries or their names, the ministers or their names, the parliament or its members, and I am not sure I fully understand the difference between being secular, liberal, communist, socialist, fascist, or zombie. What I do know is that I am a human being and Abraham Maslow placed the need for safety and security second after eating, drinking, and mating. I am an Egyptian who felt secure until I began getting those calls; calls from my friends asking me to stop talking about politics, from my mom asking me to mind my own business, from my colleagues asking me to be careful, and from my best friend who just asked me to leave all the groups on facebook that demand freedom for anyone including Sharkawy – my publisher.

On the phone, my best friend literally scolded me for my recent posts calling for freedom and inquiring about our basic human right of feeling safe and secure in your own home and your own country. She told me that they will come after me and that I will be subjected to all kinds of humiliation and torture. She reminded me that I worked with OTV not with Al Jazeera (JSC) and that I have a good life and I should not throw it away. She spoke with a certain whisper that gave the phone call an ominous yet mysterious tone … I laughed as I told her that I was ok and that I will be ok.

On the phone, my cynical anti MB friend told me that I should be ashamed of myself and chanted: "They came for the Communists, and I didn't object – For I wasn't a Communist; They came for the Socialists, and I didn't object – For I wasn't a Socialist; They came for the labor leaders, and I didn't object – For I wasn't a labor leader; They came for the Jews, and I didn't object – For I wasn't a Jew; Then they came for me – And there was no one left to object."

I was against the 6th of April strike; I thought it was a silly idea and that it would get us nowhere. The majority of Egyptians lack the necessary discipline to pull such a stunt. We are too emotional, too angry, too suppressed, too hungry, too tired, and too consumed to think right. Yet, on that day, after many people were taken from their homes, I was ashamed of Egypt. I went on TV dressed in black and I mourned the double-faced double-edged notion of security. I am now wondering … how secure is secure?

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