I came across this guide to avoid saying stupid things about Egypt, while communicating via Facebook with a former reporter whose husband is Egyptian.
My reporter friend told me that her husband’s parents, who live in Cairo, have been able to go out and buy food and visit their relatives, and that while they live in Cairo, they are not in the downtown area, which is where most of the protests have been going on.
My friend also responded to my concerns that this uprising could devolve into another Iran, a country whose revolution I know a bit about since my ex-husband was from Iran, and I visited Teheran in 1977 and 1978, when dissatisfaction with the Shah was growing and young people where optimistic that his removal would bring them greater freedoms, including freedom from America. I know from my experiences in Iran that it's easy to end up saying stupid stuff about Middle Eastern politics, no matter how well-intentioned you are. In fact, if you are American (or, in my case, British), you are probably best off keeping your mouth shut, unless you live in the region or have family on the ground there, who can help you understand what is really going.
”I just hope that the majority of people in 2011 Egypt will not elect extremists if given the opportunity to improve their own lives,” my friend wrote. “Of course, tea partiers have pretty cushy existences for the most part, and are still attracted to fundamentalism, so... I think it's impossible to know the future, but change has to happen in Egypt. regardless of all else, Mubarak will die. He’s 83.”
Another friend commented that the worst part of the current debate is how the rhetoric focused on how this might be good or bad for the US.
“Um...how about focusing on how this might be good or bad for Egyptians. And btw, Mubarak kept the peace treaty because as part of the deal, the US gives Egypt billions of dollars and military toys. Good if the U.S. got tough on Mubarak.”
At which point, my reporter friend replied, “Exactly, or as they say in Egypt, BIZOPT. I want our gov'ment to say he should step down, to support the people like they did in Tunisia and wherever else it has suited our interests.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that some looters included undercover police…. which opens up the usual "agent provocateur" can of worms.