The Awkwardness of Christmas

When I was a little Muslim girl growing up in Midwest USA, my Egyptian father did everything in his power to segregate us fromChristmas-Tree Christmas. Christmas, we understood, was a religious holiday; someone else’s religious holiday.

I managed to get away with some things. At school I engaged in the arts & crafts activities of Christmas. Everyone at home appreciated the clove-covered apples wrapped in shiny ribbon that made a room smell nice. My father would not allow me to take part in Christmas plays or even watch them for that matter. But I did find myself humming along to Oh Holy Night and The Little Drummer Boy during music class. I couldn’t help it. They were catchy tunes. Those songs were overtly religious and were frowned upon by my father, as opposed to Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rein Deer that were both allowed. (more…)

Dirty Politics, Innocent Victims

Politics is a dirty business. And at no time in Egypt has politics been dirtier. I’ve attempted all my life to educate myself politically. I’ve tried to understand the different systems and to understand why politicians do and decide the things they do. I’ve always failed. I won’t start trying to understand it all now.

That’s why I’m not going to get myself into trying to analyze why Egypt’s current government has decided to refer 19 Americans and 24 Egyptians working on international, non-governmental projects in the country to criminal court. The 43 people are accused of “setting up branches of international organizations in Egypt without a license from the Egyptian government” and of “receiving illegal foreign funding.”

There is no doubt that there are reasons why this issue has come to the forefront of the Egyptian government’s attention at this point in time. What those exact reasons are is for someone else to speculate.

But having had worked with one of the US-based organizations accused in this case, I see it as my duty to put some facts on the table. (more…)