Two years ago this week I was sprawled out in a delivery room in Al Nada hospital on Al Manyal island in the Nile, in the middle of Cairo. I gave birth to a boy whom we named Abraham – not only because he was due on Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, but because it’s a name important to Christians and Muslims alike. We thought it was a nice symbol, representing the interfaith we experienced in Egypt; the co-existence, acknowledgement, and even encouragement that existed between religious groups, and we wanted to somehow link our life and the birth of our child to this amazing, historical country.
To get our papers in order we had to visit the Mughamma – the Egyptian version of our city hall - shortly after Abraham’s birth. There we acquired - after much ado- a birth certificate, which, among other things we used to get an American passport for our son.
Today on the news I see the Mughamma on fire, and I hope that we will never need to retrieve another copy again, because it is probably lost; the original record of our birth in Cairo is lost. From a safe distance I see pictures of all the places in Cairo I visited, lived, and walked every day for three years, and it’s a different world; the internet is feeding me images of violence, tear gas, and tanks.
We doubted our move last summer to Lebanon from a safety perspective as late as last week, especially in light of the recent developments with the government, and never did we think that this would happen in Egypt. Obviously the political situation of Egypt was untenable in our modern world, however nobody thought things would move so soon or fast – or at least I didn't.
Now our friends are stuck in Cairo, barely believing what is happening to them, and we are just amazed. How is this going to end? What is going to happen in Egypt now, and how long will it take?
Joking, a friend who is a fan of the computer game Civilization said, “Now Egypt has to get through *one turn* of anarchy. If it can survive that, it will turn into a better, stronger country.” One turn. If Mubarak steps down –and really, I don’t see any other outcome here; the Egyptian people have shown that they are not going to give up – that’s when the work will begin. A journalist friend told me "Abbas Abdi, a student leader of the Iranian revolution, told me once that as a young man who helped take over the United States embassy, he knew exactly what he wanted to tear down. It was only later, much later, that he realized he never thought about what he wanted to build up. "
I know that Egypt has potential. I have never felt safer walking the streets of Egypt. I have never met more honest, accepting and religious citizens, and I mean religious as in trustworthy, righteous and full of grace. There are few societies with matching ambition and faith, and most of all, there is no prouder and more historic people than the Egyptians. They will get through this, as they got through everything else over the past 8,000 years, and they will do it well. My hope is that the international community will be right there supporting them, and that it happens soon without more blood spill or pain. And without my friends getting hurt.
This week, as I celebrate my third son’s second birthday, and as the Egyptian people revolt against their hegemonous president, memories of our life in Cairo awaken in my mind, and I hope and pray that this all will end well.