Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie

When images that insult 1.7 billion people on Earth are labelled as “freedom of speech”, you know that something is seriously wrong with the world we’re living in. No, I’m not justifying the response to the publications. I am, however, shocked by how contradicting the world is right now because if such disrespect is allowed to be expressed so freely, we’re basically living in a place where ethics are nonexistent.

What I’ve understood during these past few days is that, apparently, one is entitled to say anything and everything that is on his mind with no regards to the harm these words might cause. It’s not about showing others respect, it’s not even about voicing these opinions in a suitable manner that would give room for discussion, but it’s just about saying what you have to say. And if I am to follow this same logic, then I find a problem with the entire concept of racism. Why is racial abuse identified by the world as a global issue? Aren’t the people allowed to criticize others in whichever way they feel like and for whatever reason? Because I’m pretty sure that insulting a black person just because he’s black is in no way worse than ridiculing an entire religion in a disgusting manner.

  • “One’s freedom ends when another person’s begins.”

What I personally find humorous is how several people are asking Muslims to keep their objections  regarding the cartoons to themselves for the time being, or otherwise one is considered as inhumane. “Now is not the time for this,” they say. But I’m sorry, why on Earth would any Muslim show respect for these journalists? Why would I choose to stay silent just because others are mourning their deaths? The journalists at Charlie Hebdo did not show me or the remaining 1.7 billion Muslims any amount of respect when they went through with these publications, so why should I act any differently? Doesn’t the freedom of speech allow us to criticize those who have insulted us at whichever time pleases us?10433117_10152420385221653_5567297492708316305_n

Again, what happened to them was wrong. Killing is never the solution, and those who actually know something about Islam would know that The Prophet Mohammed (may peace be upon him) himself, if he were alive today, would not have justified nor allowed such responses, because this is a religion of peace.

Yet those who are unaware of that or have a personal agenda against Islam continue to stereotype and link such terrorists with the religion. And for some reason it is always easier and justifiable to attack Islam whenever there is a chance to. I’ve been reading about several school shootings in the USA, where mad men go into elementary schools with assault rifles in their hands and savagely murder innocent, young children. Yet I don’t see anyone looking into these men’s backgrounds or religious beliefs, why? Isn’t that terrorism? If these men were Christians or Jews, am I then given the right to blame the religion for nurturing such maniacs? Am I allowed to question the entire fundamentals of a religion that billions believe in because of a few cases that represent nothing whatsoever of what this religion stands for?

There are a lot of people out there who think before they act and do not blame billions of Muslims for what some radicals and terrorists result in in the name of Islam, and I thank them for that. But for those who relish the opportunity to bash Islam and its followers, I’m hereby telling you that I’m sick of constantly having to defend my religion for others’ sins. I’m sick of those who are now waiting for a chance to banish Islam from this Earth. Because when you use a hashtag on Twitter such as #KillAllMuslims, you are absolutely in no way different than those who killed these journalists (and the Muslim cop, by the way.) You are then a despicable bastard. “Freedom of speech.”

If this is truly considered as freedom of speech, then the entire concept is flawed. Because if we are to live in a world where mutual respect is unnecessary or rather discouraged, then we’re no longer human.

I, as a Muslim, condemn such barbaric responses and these journalists did not deserve an ending like this. But I will not show an ounce of respect to men and women who mocked my beliefs for their own amusement and disrespected the greatest man to ever grace this Earth. I’m in no way obligated to let this go.

Je ne suis pas Charlie.

The Japanese show Egyptians how to tackle littering

The Japanese show Egyptians how to tackle littering – Egyptian Streets

A few days ago, Japan faced Ivory Coast in their first 2014 World Cup game. After leading with a single goal for nearly 65 minutes, Japan conceded two quick goals and were unable to comeback from behind, eventually losing the game with two goals to one. As the referee blew his whistle and signaled the end of the match, the fans picked up garbage bags and started cleaning up after their own mess in an act of respect towards the hosting country and their own culture.

How many of us in Egypt or elsewhere would bother to behave in a similar matter when experiencing a similar situation?

Despite their sadness and disappointment at losing the game, the Japanese chose to clean up the mess they’ve created and make the lives of several people a bit easier. They felt responsible and obligated to face the consequences of their actions.

On the other hand, we Egyptians often use anger and disappointment as excuses for our inefficiencies, but the thing is, our emotions should not interfere with our duties when it comes to society. We owe it to ourselves and our country to treat our land the way it deserves to be treated.

What the Japanese did, as simple as it may be, sent out a message to the world. Wouldn’t it be easier if each and every one of us spared a few minutes to ensure we’re leaving the place we’re at as clean as it was on our arrival? Why don’t we implement their actions into our own daily lives?

The Egyptian government recently issued a new law that toughens fines related to littering and the dumping of garbage, but the question is why did we reach a point where we need such laws to prevent us from harming our own environment? As far as my knowledge goes, I believe that no such laws exists for littering football stands, but that didn’t stop the Japanese from doing what they believed was right.

There’s always this one person who lowers his car window and throws out a cigarette, tissue, plastic bottle and more. What makes such actions even more depressing is that there are often younger minds accompanying such men and women. So what message are you sending to Egypt’s future generation? Is it socially acceptable to treat your country as a giant trash bin? Is that the mentality you would like others to adopt in order to justify your own actions?

What keeps on holding Egyptians back and what forced the government to issue such laws is the common belief that one will not or cannot make a difference.

So I ask you: don’t be discouraged by those around you, but rather try to guide them, because if we Egyptians strive towards a better life, Egypt will automatically turn into a much more decent place to live in regardless of the ruler.

Our President’s job description does not include cleaning up after his own people. It ultimately comes to whether you want to live in a healthier environment or not. It comes down to your attitude and mentality. Do you still have hope for a better Egypt, or have you given up already?

The Japanese fans’ behavior did not only inspire many to do the same, but also showed how civilized they are. Their discipline and social ethics are now an example to the world and there is no shame in following in their footsteps if we aim to progress as a society.

Remember the “cleanup week” following the 25th of January revolution when many spent their days picking up garbage and cleaning streets believing they can influence positive change? How about we do it once again, but perhaps for a bit longer than a week? Perhaps, you know, like, forever?

And remember, each time you ignore your social responsibilities towards your people and act in such an uncivilized manner, you are blocking the path that leads to the Egypt we dream of.

Break Free

There is a reason why each and every one of us possesses a different look, physique, or personality; we were not meant to be the same. I’m writing this because I believe many are finding it necessary to conform in order to succeed socially, and one’s ability to behave in simply a way that would make him/her happy, has been limited. We’re continuously setting standards for each other, and it is starting to include all aspects of our lives for you are no longer allowed to be yourself.

People are now judged based on their political and religious beliefs, hobbies, habits, fashion style, taste in music, etc. as if exists an example that we should follow. So, now what? Should we all continue to surrender to social constricts and pressure and turn into what society demands us to be? Is it no longer ‘acceptable’ for one to act normally? If not, maybe it would easier for us to just blend into one giant blob.

To be clear, I’m not saying that all people have chosen to fake or hide their true selves, but some have chosen to adopt certain lifestyles where they’ve lost their identity as a result in the process. The people that managed to get their names written down in history books were not remembered for being the same as the rest; they stood out, and they thought outside of the box. There is no shame in being different, in being unique, but there is shame in pretending to be someone you are not.

“Why should we care so much for what the majority think? The most reasonable people, to whom one should pay more attention, will believe that things were done as they were done.” – Socrates

This mentality is one of the main reasons why I believe democracy may never succeed in Egypt. We, Egyptians, have great difficulties when it comes to accepting someone who shares a different opinion than ours. And, what many fail to understand is that there is a huge difference between judging someone and between disagreeing with someone. In the past, I acted in the same way. I used to undermine people for presuming what they did or believed in was not worthwhile, but I plan to do so no more.

Life is much, much easier when you just choose not to care about what people might think, when you just think of something and decide to do it without worrying about how will your surroundings react, when you act freely. I’d rather choose to self-evaluate myself, and choose to stick with what makes me most comfortable. Many Egyptians have disregarded self-evaluation as it is easier to judge and comment on other’s flaws than trying to improve on a personal level, and that is why we are still a developing country. Even though we are a part of an extremely diverse community, we have learned nothing. No one is perfect, and no one can ever be.

Egyptians have chosen to develop a habit of criticizing other countries for their religious and traditional habits whenever a comparison arises, believing that we are superior when it comes to that matter and therefore “better people”, yet we always fail to look at the bigger picture. We overlook the commitment some display towards their work or families and the responsibilities they take to maintain and build their own countries; we choose to ignore all the positive aspects of their society that we can implement in ours to improve because we are busy judging them blindly for what we view as wrong.

Whether as a society or as individuals, some are neither able to accept people the way they are nor keep their utterly useless thoughts to themselves, instead choosing to condemn and denounce whatever they consider as unfit or unsound while completely neglecting the positives.

In conclusion, we are all free. And, as long as I am not harming anyone, you do not get to judge or criticize me. You may choose to go with the flow, and I may choose to be different. You’ve got only one life, and only you get to decide how to live it.

 

You Are In Control

It’s sad how lives have turned into a never ending routine, with most of us aiming to only survive and live a decent life. It’s not why we were born. Parents do not look at their children upon birth and say: “Someday you’ll finish college, find a wife/husband, and die peacefully in your bed.” Why settle for such a life? Why not aim higher? I, for example, find my salvation in writing, with hope of influencing or reaching out to whoever reads whatever I have written, with hope of affecting this person’s life positively.

One does not have to become another Nelson Mandela or Steve Jobs in order to influence the world. It comes down to your attitude, to your mentality. Set an example and strive towards a better life and don’t settle for mediocrity.

In my opinion, I believe Egyptian teachers are the ones that suffer most here for their role is highly underestimated and is why those who afford to leave look for other opportunities elsewhere. But nevertheless, they gave up too easily for this is not an excuse for not taking the job seriously. Why not take responsibility and make use of the influence you have on these young minds? Why not think you may be teaching the kid who will find a way to rebuild Egypt and restore its glory?

If each and every one of us took whatever he/she is doing seriously, Egypt could finally become a better place. Don’t do it for the paycheck, do it for a better life. The people you affect are your legacy.

I’m not talking now about political change like I did in my previous article, because the answer is not only in our next president, whether El-Sisi (hopefully not) or whoever else. The problem will always remain within the people, and that is why we must be preparing and willing for change. Every time you throw your trash in a bin in front of a bunch of people, you set an example. Every time you stop for a red light, you set an example. You get into others’ heads, you make them wonder, and you encourage them to do the right thing. That is how I’ve started to think recently. I may not be a genius or the greatest politician, but if I could make something better, no matter how slightly, I would feel I have accomplished something.

Now I’m approaching you with the hope of ending that fear of change. I write because it makes me feel I can affect others, and now it is your turn. I witness actions that anger me each and every day and that make me sometimes wonder why I’m still seeking change, but then I remember that if I turn to the dark side as well I’ll be only moving backwards; I’ll only be helping destroy whatever hope is left. Don’t be discouraged by those around you, but rather try to guide them because if we Egyptians strive towards a better life, Egypt will automatically turn into a much more decent place to live in regardless of the ruler, and only then may we finally find someone who has the passion and integrity required in order to lead Egypt.

A group has already taken the initiative, and that group managed to end Mubarak’s rule. Their goal was to make Egypt a better place. They sought change for the sake of the future generations, and they will be remembered forever.

Aim to be a part of history. Aim to be remembered. Aim to be part of the generation that will help Egypt rise again.