I briefly visited Egypt a long time ago, back in 1988. It really wasn’t much of a visit. Just a few days in the Cairo area. Wandering through the Khan-Khalil bazaar in the evening left the biggest impression on me. I might be wrong, but I think it’s the biggest bazaar in the world.
The other strong impression I have is driving across the desert. The sand dunes were huge, like enormous rogue waves towering above the road. One would half expect to see Laird Hamilton being towed in so he could he come screaming down the wave on his board. Then, of course, nearing the Suez Canal, the superstructures of the tankers became visible, floating across the sand, miles away. They were odd sights. Disembodied from their hulls and more unusual than any mirage.
I wonder, these days, if the Pharaohs are sleeping comfortably in their tombs? When the initial uprising happened in Egypt last year, I wondered if the ultimate outcome would be even worse than the Mubarak dictatorship. Sure, Mubarak was not the kindliest dictator around, but things can always get worse. It appears as if things have gotten much worse with the military’s decision to dismantle the parliament and rewrite the constitution. Ironically enough, it looks as if they did it to forestall a religious takeover of the government. That probably would not have gone well. However, what the military is proposing probably will not go well either.
Democracy doesn’t seem to work well in countries without a substantial judeo-christian heritage. Perhaps it boils down to the role and worth of the individual within society? If a society places a higher value on the community rather than the individual, I would guess that democracy is most likely doomed in that society. There’s going to be other influences as well, of course. Russia is a good example of that. Centuries of totalitarian rule, whether it be the czars or the children of Lenin, do not bode well for democracy.
Anyway, I hope the Pharaohs don’t turn too much in their sarcophagi. One too many uneasy turns and their mummy shrouds will start abrading into dust.