From Sadat to Mubarak: A Reminiscence, and a Prayer

New York Times
Published: February 2, 2011

To the Editor:

It is 1981, and I am standing in Tahrir Square, Cairo, on an unusually hot September day,
about to begin my graduate work in Islamic art and architecture at the American University
in Cairo.

It is the beginning of what will become, for me, a cherished and wonderful relationship
with a land priceless in its art and architecture, a land whose people — so good-natured
and giving — live in some of the most grinding poverty imaginable. This is glorious Egypt.

The precarious events that are now unfolding in Egypt are both riveting and familiar.
A month into my studies, on Oct. 6, my Yemeni roommate and I were hiking outside
of Cairo and inadvertently strayed into a restricted zone adjacent to the route of a
military parade that President Anwar el-Sadat was reviewing when he was
assassinated earlier that day.

My passport and camera were immediately confiscated, and we were detained,
interrogated and kept incommunicado by the army for two very long, very unnerving
days. Sadat’s vice president, Hosni Mubarak, assumed control that day and has held it,
by various means, ever since.

The world, particularly the West, adored Sadat and mourned his death; his people did
neither. Now, nearly 30 years later, Mr. Mubarak, an ally of the West and an anchor
of stability in the Middle East, lacks the support of his people. History, as it often does,
is repeating itself.

What Egypt’s future holds can only be determined by its 80 million people, two-thirds
of whom are under age 30 and most of whom are saddled with staggering
unemployment and inflation.

Because of social networks, satellite television, movies, magazines and more, the
masses know that there is a life outside their borders that is far better than theirs.
(The day I arrived at the university, Egyptian students assumed that I, as an American,
lived in a palatial home and drove luxury cars similar to what they’d seen on “Dallas”
or “Dynasty.”)

The youth of Egypt dream of owning a car, getting married, having a home and
securing for their children a quality of life better than theirs — aspirations familiar
to all. The sad reality is that, under Mr. Mubarak, such aspirations have been
virtually impossible to realize.

It is no surprise that such substandard living conditions have led to political
instability — an instability that could end in a dangerous power vacuum should
Mr. Mubarak step down without a leader in place who’s ready to heed the people’s cry.

It is uncertain who is next to lead Egypt. I pray for a positive outcome for Egypt and
its people, but, truth be told, I fear the worst. I hope I am wrong.

Christopher J. Madkour
East Dorset, Vt., Feb. 2, 2011


~ by The 1955 Hudson on February 4, 2011.

2 Responses to “From Sadat to Mubarak: A Reminiscence, and a Prayer”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rebecca coffey, Michael Hudson. Michael Hudson said: From Sadat to Mubarak: A Reminiscence, and a Prayer: […]

  2. […] From Sadat to Mubarak: A Reminiscence, and a Prayer ( […]

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