The trap that is Egypt

Egypt is a country that has me completely messed up in the head.


This is my “office” view as I work from my laptop today.

I have so many conflicting feelings about it.

I was in Egypt less than a month ago visiting family. But only a few days after returning to the UK, I decided to jump on a plane and come back. Ramadan started, my friends were all posting about the accompanying festivities, and I was missing it all. I hadn’t spent Ramadan in Egypt for several years.

When I told my therapist that I’d be missing a session because I wanted to go back to Egypt, she asked me what it was about Ramadan in Egypt that I missed. I had spent most of the session telling her about real-life problems I was facing and I was fine. But the minute I started describing what it was like to stand in the balcony at the time of the sunset call to prayer, when all the craziness of Cairo’s streets suddenly disappears, it all goes quiet, and people are in their homes with their families and friends around tables full of food and love, I broke down in tears.

Even my therapist’s face showed pain on my behalf. “Oooh. You’re homesick,” she said. (more…)

The Ramadan Workout Final Report

For all intents and purposes, my Ramadan this year is over. That means I can sit back


Because this is how I THINK I look while swimming in open water.

and reflect on what was a relatively intense training schedule while fasting this year.

Ramadan officially ends near the end of this coming week. But women don’t fast when they get their periods. There are other exceptions as well: those who are too ill don’t fast, and travelers don’t have to either. I feel fortunate to be a pre-menopausal woman. Sadly, that can’t last for much longer.

I’ve been exercising during Ramadan for a few years now. Every year I’ve pushed it just a little bit more than the previous year. The gradual progression has helped me understand my limits; or rather figure out just how far I can actually go.

This year was a particularly challenging year because I have a couple of important (to me) long distance events that require lots of training. I just couldn’t afford to pull back on the training too much for a significant amount of time. But I did need to pull it back enough to make sure I didn’t hurt or deplete myself. (more…)

The Ramadan workout

I’ve been Ramadaning while keeping up a workout schedule probably for the past three

This was taken about two weeks before Ramadan. But it represents the same exact swim I did last Tuesday evening while fasting. It was actually quite an enjoyable swim!

years. I can’t remember what I did while I was in Egypt. If I did work out in Egypt during Ramadan, it will definitely have been at night after I broke the fast.

Since I moved to the UK, I’ve been getting more and more serious about my training. That means that it is very inconvenient to completely stop training during the one month of the year when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. A lot of fitness can be lost in a month.

But Ramadan follows a lunar calendar, and what that means is that in the few past and coming years, it’s happening in the summer months. That’s a real issue when you live in northern Europe. According to the timetable I’m following, it means I can’t eat or drink (yes, not even water) from about 3 AM till 9:30 PM. Also, the gyms in my area all shut around 10 PM and all the group training activities are held some time during the day.

So I’ve been testing my limits with working out while fasting for the past three years. (more…)

Ramadan Prank Show WILL Breed Terrorists

Egypt’s Al-Hayat TV has had a Punk’d style show airing throughout Ramadan, the Islamic world’s holiest month of fasting. I’ve never been physically capable of watching a complete episode from beginning to end. The gist of it though is that a celebrity is invited on a group trip, and while on a desert road, a band of RPG-carrying Bedouins drive up beside the trip bus, threaten them with guns, cut off the road with their truck, and then fire an explosive into the bus’s windshield. The Bedouin terrorists then proceed to drag the celebrity out of the bus while threatening everyone else with guns. The celebrity is tied and held at gun point. In theory, everyone on the bus but the celebrity is in on the act. Audiences are expected to laugh at the terrified response of the celebrity to the situation.

Word out on the street is that this show has received the most lucrative advertisement deals because of its huge popularity.

The first time I saw a clip from this show my sister was at my house breaking her fast with me. “Nadia, did you see this crazy show called Ramez Tha’lab Al-Sahara (or Ramez the Desert Fox)?” she asked. I haven’t had any time this Ramadan to watch much television so my response was in the negative. She pulled out a clip for me from YouTube. I could only watch for a few minutes until I started getting nauseous and my blood pressure was rising to dangerous levels. I was metamorphosing into Angry Nadia.

There are so many issues with the airing of this show that I do not know where to start. Since when is terrorism a laughing matter? We are a country, especially during this post-revolutionary state of lawlessness we are living in, that needs to create an immense amount of awareness among our people to counter the effects of terrorism. Only a few weeks ago violence erupted in an Egyptian village between Copts and Muslims. At the end of this past June, angry Bedouins blocked the road with flaming tires and shot their rifles into the air while we were driving through Sinai. My children were with me. How is it possible that Egypt TV airs a show that encourages this sort of activity as something to laugh at?

What I worry about most is the children. We have more than our fair share of pranksters in Egypt. Egyptians are known for their sense of humor and pranks are one means of expressing it. Of course, these pranks are usually very light-hearted and harmless. But what are we telling our children – or even the adults – about what is acceptable when it comes to pranks? What are we telling our children about terrorism?

I am horrified to see this – and several other similar prank shows airing this month – get any sort of audience.  And how is that they are aired during the spiritual month of Ramadan; the month that teaches us love and compassion? How is it that they are aired at all? Our censors in Egypt get all high and mighty if a little kiss or hug shows up in a movie. How is it that this sort of thing gets an OK by the censors? Either we censor what actually does deserve censorship or we stop censoring at all.

Egypt’s television channels are showing us a new low when we thought it could get no worse.

And you ask where terrorism originates?