Egyptian presidential elections

Cycling Europe Day 45: Poland, Pouring Rain, and Thoughts of Egypt

Today I crossed three mountains to get from the Czech Republic to Poland. That part

Poland! Albeit in pouring rain.

Poland! Albeit in pouring rain.

was fine. I’m up for almost anything but those killer hills they have in southern Czech Republic.

I knew to expect rain today. It was rough. I got through the first 30km in dry weather. Then the heavens opened her doors as wide as she could. I cycled the remaining 45 km in pouring rain. The first 15 km of those were fine because I was cycling uphill and generating heat. As soon as I started going downhill, the only things moving were my hands controlling the brakes, and it wasn’t long before I started shivering uncontrollably.

I was wearing a long-sleeved cycling shirt and a rain jacket. My shirt was a bit damp from sweating in it for four hours. I stopped at a roadside cafe, stood by one of their outdoors tables that was under a big umbrella (no one was eating outside in that rain) and changed my shirt, added a fleece, and put my rain jacket back on. I was drier but it took getting to a place where there was a bit of an incline and I started generating heat again for me to stop feeling that I was going to fall off my bike from all the shaking.

It was total relief to find a hotel, take off my soaked cycling shorts, and get into a hot shower.

Despite the rain and poor visibility, I could see that this part of Poland is really beautiful. I can’t wait to see more. Today I’m in Jelenia Gora and apparently it is worth seeing. But it’s still pouring outside and will continue to all night. I can’t bring myself to go back out in that. I’m going to chill this evening in my hotel. They have a pool, so I’ll probably go for a swim. They have a sauna I’ll have to pay extra for, but given all the cycling I’ve been doing and the shivering from today, I figure it’s worth it.

I try as much as I can to avoid thinking about Egypt. It depresses me when I do. But I couldn’t help it today. (more…)

Welcome, Egypt, to democracy

The 2012 Egyptian presidential elections are not just any elections. They are the first democratic presidential elections to happen in this country. And they come at a great cost of life and limb from the Egyptian people. There is a lot at stake for Egyptians. Egypt turned over the souls of many of its sons and daughters to their Maker for these elections to happen. Eyes were lost, limbs were broken, and every single person who participated in the revolution risked their lives.

Egypt’s revolutionaries and their supporters wish to see true change in Egypt.  But as it happens, the picture those revolutionaries and their supporters have in their heads of what that change needs to be varies widely.

But what is democracy if it is not to give the people the tools with which to dictate which change is most desired by the majority?

Egyptians revolted from January 25 to February 11 and onwards in order to bring democracy to their country. But did they all truly understand what it means to live in a democracy? (more…)

I’ve voted…God help us

It’s done. I walked into the school where my voting station is. I said a short prayer to God before proceeding. “God, if there is good in this choice of mine, then make it easy for me. If there is no good in this choice of mine, then make it difficult for me. You, alone, know where our best interests lie.”

The young soldier sitting at the gate gave me directions to station number 18, where I was to go. It was a large school. There was no line at all. No one ahead of me. I gave them my name and number. They checked my ID. They gave me a piece of paper with the names and pictures of all the 13 presidential candidates. I checked on the box in front of one of them. God made it easy for me. And it was done.

I walked out of the school feeling numb. As I walked home, I eventually felt as if I wanted to cry. I held it back. A dialogue went through my head:

“What if I made the wrong choice? I have misgivings about every single one of the candidates. Strong misgivings even. What if my misgivings about this particular candidate turn out to be true? What if he wins? What will I have done then to my country? No. Even if these misgivings turn out to be true, the damage will only be minimal. There are other candidates who could do real damage. I’ve avoided them. I’ve done what I can. I’ve chosen to the best of my ability and knowledge. Now it is time for me to leave it to God.”

Last night I decided I needed to avoid reading the political statuses of my Facebook friends. I was getting stressed and upset about the hyper-politicization and missionary styles of some of them in supporting their candidates or their points of view. I was being a bit bitchy myself. I needed clarity of mind. I needed to think without being influenced. Social media has become an important information source for many of us. But it’s also become a major source of stress at times like these.

It’s done. I’m still going to avoid my friends’ political Facebook statuses for awhile. I’m going to do my best to take the weekend off from politics and relax. I’ll be interested to follow the results. But whoever wins in this round, it will not be a life-changing event for me. I will continue to observe. And hope. And pray.

God, the Egyptian people have done everything in their power to bring good to this country and remove evil. We’ve shed tears, sweat, blood, eyes, and souls. Please, God, help us now.

Mr President, Whoever You Are, Beware the Egyptian People

I think I’ve figured out who I will vote for as Egypt’s next president. I’m not happy about my choice. I wouldn’t be happy about any choice I made. I’m not happy about the candidates I have to choose from.

I looked through most of the candidates’ programs. The conclusion I came to was: lots of pages of nice words. They seemed to me to be rather similar in their promises. They all say they want good for Egypt. Good for them.

But what do I want? What I am looking for? I want someone I can trust to clean the State from bureaucracy and corruption. I want someone I can trust to bring to justice any wrong-doers from the previous regime and its various arms. I want someone I can trust to re-vamp our police and security forces. I want someone I can trust to sensitively and smartly deal with our Armed Forces. I want someone I can trust to initiate an inclusive process that will give us a constitution that will protect all our rights and that we can all be proud. (more…)

Why the 2012 Egyptian Presidential Elections Make Me Want to Barf

Egyptian elections are the day after tomorrow. This will be the first time in the history of Egypt that Egyptians will have a real say in who will be their president. This should be a time for rejoicing. For some Egyptians, it is. I am not one of those Egyptians.

As the elections near, more and more I have a feeling of foreboding. I have only two days left and I still do not know who I want to vote for. And I don’t know because I feel that all the choices are bad. Very bad. Not that the presidential candidates are bad people. There is no doubt in my mind that most of the candidates really do have good intentions. But no matter how many times I run the scenarios through my head of what if x wins, or what if y wins, we’re fucked. Seriously fucked. In my opinion, not one of them has the leadership skills necessary to navigate Egypt through a very very delicate process of deciding on what kind of a country we want to have. We’ve already had a sneak peak – more properly called a sneak freak – at what that process will look like. The Egyptian parliament, who we all hoped would guide us through the process of choosing a committee to put together a draft constitution, failed us in the most miserable way possible. (more…)