Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hurry Back Tom - There is a New, Clean Egypt

With clear joy, many here greet you now with "Welcome to the New Egypt." That newness is characterized in many ways.

So fresh and radical are the changes, that many seem not sure if it's real or a dream. Sayed and Walid seemed quite nervous at the beginning of my interview with them recently, particularly when I asked if I could tape record it. "No, you can't record us." Toward the end of the hour, feeling apparently more comfortable with me, but more critically, with the experience of speaking their minds freely, they reconsidered and suggested that I might be able to record the next interview. "We're free now, we can say what we want" they said aloud, looking at each other as if they weren't sure what they were saying was (could be) true.

Later, at their home in Giza, just outside of Cairo, their father motioned to the walls, pointing out that there were no pictures of Mubarak. "Before the revolution, everyone had to have a picture of him in their homes. His picture was everywhere. But now, we are a New Egypt."

The newness is also visible in a freshness, a cleaner Egypt. Remarkably, part of the youths' activism has been to clean the country. Thus, via Facebook (of course), children and youths have been invited to clean the streets and to paint the curbs with the colors of the Egyptian flag.

Descriptions of such initiatives are proclaimed with a moving sense of national pride. "We want to build Egypt," said 22 year-old Walid.

Tom Friedman recently bemoaned the garbage on the streets of Cairo as an evidence of Egypt's failure. Hurry back Tom, the streets are being cleaned.

No comments: