Egypt is where I was born and grew up
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Sayyed Qutb سيد قطب is the ideological father of modern militant movements in the Arab and Islamic world.
His first name could be transliterated in English as Syed, Sayyid, Sayed.
Born in 1906, he was not a radical ideologue at first, but rather someone with a social reform agenda. He visited Colorado, USA on a government program in 1949, and wrote a book titled: The America I Have Seen. Upon his return to Egypt he joined the Muslim Brotherhood before the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy in a coup d'etat by the Free Officers.
His writing focused on social reform from an Islamic perspective, as well as a literary analysis of the Artistic Representation in the Quran. It is ironic to see that modern Salafis do not approve of this latest work.
Here is an article by Waleed Ziad, in the New York Times, titled Jihad's Fresh Face. In it, he traces back violent militancy, in which current terrorist movements are grounded. The root cause is post-colonial chaos created in the Arab world that lead to the rise of absolute dictatorship. When these dictatorships are challenged, they ruthlessly and brutally suppress the opposition. This suppression did not stop at banning and imprisonement or those who opposed, but more heinous measures such as torture, continued persecution, harassment, ...etc.
Gwynne Dyer, a reknown Canadian journalist, historian, academic and essayist on international affairs, writes that the recent Egyptian Presidential Elections are a Cynical Farce! He mentions that the ruling party engaged in everything from ballot stuffing to bussing government workers to vote en masse after it was apparent that the turn out was very low. He also correctly notes that President Bush, who says he wants democracy in the region, do not want to see Mubarak go.
Two presidential candidates in Egypt's upcoming elections have withdrawn from the race. Nawal el Saadawi withdrew her candidacy a few days a go, though I doubt that she would get much votes, being on the fringe as far as most Egyptians are concerned. A few days later, Saad Eddin Ibrahim also withdrew from the elections, and also said he is boycotting the election, calling it a "farcical electoral process". He said that some people outside have been deceived by the recent cosmetic and token changes, and that the new election laws effectively prevents independant candidates from running.
As someone who is has been living away from Egypt for years, I forgot how arduous it is getting simple things done, such as renewing a driver license. I did not plan on getting it renewed during this vacation, but when I arrived and took a look at it, it was about to expire in a month. Luckily, it is valid for 10 years, and hence the need to go for renewal is less frequent than the 5 years of Ontario.I had forgotten the sheer amount of bureaucracy required when interacting with government agencies for any type of document to be issued. Here are the steps that are needed to get a driver license renewed. I don't even want to think of what would have happened if this one had expired and I needed a new one with a test and all.
Earlier in May, I received several pictures from my brother in Egypt of some family members, dated may 2, 2005. What struck me was how I do not recall the stark difference in climate between Canada and Egypt, and its effect on crops.In one of the pictures, my uncle is standing in a partially harvested wheat field, with ripe golden wheat ears showing up clearly. This is the first crop of the season. In most of Egypt, there are three crops per year. In another picture, my brother is below a mulberry tree, with my nephew up in its branches. The tree has white ripe fruit on it.All the people in the pictures are still wearing "winter clothing" of sorts: long sleeve shirts and jackets. If temperature there is 15C or so, it is considered really cold!
Many who are not familiar with Egypt's history and culture wonder why Egypt does not speak Egyptian today and not Arabic. This article tries to answer this question for those who ask it.
The New Kingdom: The Last Empire
Egypt's last purely Egyptian great empire, known as the New Kingdom, lasted from 1567 B.C. to 1085 B.C. During this period Egypt dominated a lot of its neighbors, such as Nubia, and Syria. This was achieved by various means, such as Thutmosis military campaigns, Ramses II's peace treaties, and Amenhotep III's diplomacy via marriage. The riches of Tut-Ankh-Amen are from this period, as well as the religious revolution of Akhnaten, the heretic monotheistic pharaoh.
The last royal family to rule Egypt as a monarchy were the descendants of Mohamed Ali Pasha, a tobacco merchant, and Albanian general in the service of the Ottoman Sultan.First ruling as a viceroy for the Ottoman Sultan, and fighting wars on his behalf (e.g. against the al-Sauds in Arabia), he later became independant, and even challenged the Sultan by campaigns in Syria and Southern Turkey.After the fall of the Ottomans, Egypt's rulers took the title Sultan, then the title king.