It is often said that Egypt is “Om El Donya” or “Mother of the World.” In recent months, we have come to show the world that this is no longer true.
Throughout the past year, Egypt has gone through a rollercoaster of events that have heavily impacted every single aspect of Egyptian life. However, these events have been illustrated by the media as a period in history when Egypt finally entered a new era. A ‘democratic’ era that has led to newfound pride, where Egyptians became capable of deciding their own future.
A phrase such as “Om El Donya” would indicate that Egypt is a leading force in the world, with the January 25 revolution placing Egypt even higher by garnering the respect of people all around the world. Some have even stated that the ‘Arab Spring’ motivated the Occupy Protests.
However, like the Occupy Protests, the January 25 Revolution achieved very little. ‘Democracy’ has led to an anti-democratic and Islamist-dominated parliament and ‘Presidency.’ Thanks to the flawless system of democracy, we don’t even know if Mohamed Morsy won Egypt’s presidency.
Ignoring the political aspect of Egyptian life, where else is Egypt truly “Om El Donya?”
Let’s start with the economy. The poor have become poorer, especially because the revolution was one started by the Middle Class (and hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood). Inflation has reached 13.3% (nicely placing Egypt in the top 20 of highest inflation rates) which has led to an increase in food prices. This has heavily impacted the poor, especially since the average Egyptian worker makes – wait for it – $55 a month. Making matters worse, Egypt suffers from 24.8% unemployment.
So far so good, we are clearly “Om El Donya” – leading the world’s top worst lists.
What about health and education? Good news, average Egyptians can expect to live up to 73 years! Jokes aside, that ranks Egypt as 121st in the world. Our literacy rate is even worst, at 66.4% literacy – ranking us 155th in the world, with countries like Sudan, Botswana, Algeria, and even Libya (which has a staggering 97.7% literacy rate) ahead of us. That means many of Egypt’s voters most likely did not know who they were voting for – simply following orders, or being swayed via food rations to vote for a certain candidate. It is thus not surprising that a country like Libya, with their high literacy rate, managed to vote for a liberal-dominated parliament, while Egypt voted for an Islamist one.
Apart from all these detailed statistics, it was what the media has failed to show that really matters. Egyptian streets have been unaccounted for, as the media focuses on the political aspect of Egypt. It appears that Egyptians are facing a crisis of ethics and morality. From the increase of harassment of women and lack of security (where cars are being stolen, and children kidnapped), to the piling of garbage (as Egyptians continue to litter everywhere) and lack of respect for police officers (as seen on several occasions, where Egyptian towns have lynched ‘thugs’ instead of handing them over to the police, or by insulting and attacking police officers).
So when I hear the phrase “Masr (Egypt) Om El Donya,” I cannot help but think “What year are you living in?”
We used to be “Om El Donya.” Alexandria was not a beacon of Islamism, but a beacon of light and intellect. Egyptian Cinema and other art forms used to flourish, as Egypt was the cultural hub of Africa and Asia. The Egyptian Pound was one of the strongest currencies in the world. We used to be a leading diplomatic power in Africa, the Middle East, and the world. Christians, Muslims, and Jews used to live harmoniously, side-by-side. Extremism was frowned upon, and intelligence and liberalism was hailed. We built great wonders, which make up one third of the world’s known monuments.
The point is, we were “Om El Donya,” and we used to be a leading force, but it is not impossible to become even greater. With enough effort, dedication and vision, Egypt can once again become “Om El Donya.” Instead of simply believing that we have entered an era where Egyptians have become capable of deciding their own future, Egyptians need to show the world that this is the case. It is our future – and we decide the outcome. The first step is by recognizing the harsh realities that many of us choose to ignore.