To answer some comments and questions: No, I'm not poor in the sense that many people throughout this world are poor. I've had my share of financial woes, which is a bit of an understatement, and on the whole if I'm going to be strapped for cash, I'd rather it be in a place where I'm not going to be cold and I know that I can eat for very little. I've seen the urban poor in New York, Toronto, and Los Angeles, and here in Egypt. On the whole, I suspect that it's better to be poor outside of a city than inside one, particularly in a country with fresh fruits and vegetables in the fields 12 months of the year. Eat your heart out, northern temperate climates!
Bashing North America: I'm not really. It just isn't my cup of tea. I have family living happily in the US and it's a great place to visit. I do have some concerns about the aspects of North American culture that get exported, but I'm not alone there.
Copts: The Copts are one of the oldest, if not the actual oldest, group of Christians in the world. The Coptic church dates back to within a few centuries of the time of Christ and is a rich heritage in Egypt. On the whole, I would have to say that cries of persecution from Copts outside of Egypt are rather over-rated. We have both Copts and Muslims living in our area and no one could care less. The Suares family is a Coptic family and one of the wealthiest in Egypt, being the owners of Orascom, a huge conglomerate corporation with interests in telecommunication, construction, and tourism. I think that issue is one that provides people with a personal axe to grind some fun.
Anti-American feeling: An interesting thing about Egyptians, and something that is likely true in many other countries, is that we discriminate between Americans and the American government. The US press often talk of anti-American sentiment as though it were being expressed towards the citizens of the country, when it is not. Egyptians have no illusions of control over their government, and in fact, never have had any control over it. They know that their government does all sorts of things that may or may not be good for the country and that may or may not be personally motivated. Sentiment here cuts across religious lines. No one is happy with the Bush administration's forays into world domination. But any American tourist, businessman, student, whatever, is more than welcome in the country. Just not George W. Bush.
Last spring I had a group of endurance riders come to visit, four women between the ages roughly of say 25 to 60 yrs old. They wandered around the neighbourhood on foot, chatted with watchmen at the neighbourhood pyramids, went horseback and camel riding, basically had a ball. They were fascinated by the international newspapers that were available in the grocery stores (like the Middle East Times which is available online) because they included a lot of news that somehow was never printed back home. And we talked about the difference between people and governments. Maybe all the discussion of the US government being chosen by the people has confused the issue in the US. Okay, you vote (or maybe don't vote) for your representative in Congress, the Senate, your state, your president....but at the end of the day, any of these individuals can and will do whatever he bloody well wants to and you have no say over it unless you can find enough people to get rid of him after the fact. Americans are as much victims of their government as any one else is.
Wanting to leave Egypt: Many of the people who leave Egypt return later. The fact is that university education abroad in many disciplines is preferrable to education locally. I met my late husband when he travelled to Canada to do graduate school, and his experience in business in Canada helped him to achieve his dreams here. My children both studied abroad; one is still studying in New York and comes home on holidays while the other returned to work for a while here before he continues with a graduate level degree. Will they live in Egypt all their lives? I don't know and I don't think that it matters. But they do say that there are many aspects of life that they truly miss when they are outside.
My father was a world federalist. He believed that only a world government could handle the problems of the world and that the governments of countries were a disruptive force on humanity. Maybe he was right. I haven't seen any governments at all, world or national, that I've been all that impressed by.
Finally, women: Do a quick survey and you will find that virtually all of the power structures world wide these days are male-dominated. This means that anywhere you look you will see women with problems. The problems simply vary from place to place. I'd rather be an old woman in Egypt where old women are respected than an old woman in a place that is inundated with the culture of youth and beauty. "We said we'd grow old together, but we never said wrinkled" Get your botox injections here! Yes, women have issues everywhere, and so do men. Happily or unhappily, those issues are changing all over the world. In Egypt many women are refusing to marry if they feel that they aren't getting a reasonable mate and the men are running about trying to figure out what the women want. There are always problems, but the sign of growth is that the problems change.
Thanks for the fame, whoever.