Mona Hamdi is an Egyptian citizen who wants you to hear her voice. An ambivalent observer of politics until a few years ago, she has adamant opinions now and is eager to share them with you. Born to Egyptian parents who were living in Kuwait, her primary education took place in that country and she returned to Egypt for university, studying chemistry at Egypt’s Ain Shams Faculty of Science. She continued on to take a teaching diploma from Cambridge University and now teaches at British schools in Cairo.
A mother of three young girls, a small business owner and a lover of accordion music, Mona says that prior to the beginning of the revolutionary movement in 2011 she considered politics in her home country to be like a predictable theater performance. It all took place on a stage. The script had already been written and the audience of Egyptian citizens could only passively watch. It didn’t matter if they liked the performance or not. The plot was unchangeable.
Since the revolution began Mona feels that politics has become like air: in, around and through everything. Even young children are participating. There’s no more sitting back and knowing what to expect. Now the audience is involved in the performance, and the plot is anything but predictable..
Mona had so much to say that it won’t fit in one article. I’m sharing her responses to the questions in two parts. Be sure to read through both. And she promises to respond directly to anyone who comments! So read her thoughts and then write to her in the comments section below the interview. It will be a great conversation!
Before the revolution began in January 2011 what types of changes were you noticing about life and politics throughout Egyptian culture?
The culture has been going down. Science has no place at all. Poetry and literature have all but disappeared. Ruling families and football players have become heroes.
When the Jan 25 protests were taking place, before Mubarak actually was removed, what were your hopes of what would happen?
I didn’t think it was an actual revolution at first. I thought that the protesters would just go home after time. I didn’t believe it was real. Then we started hearing about prisons being opened and it felt like everything was shaking around me. I was afraid.
How did life overall change in Egypt after the revolution of Jan 25? Do you feel the changes weighed more heavily in the positive or the negative?
You know it’s between this and that, its not constant. Its not positive. Its not negative. I’m not amazed any more because of all the surprises we are getting. Most of the surprises are unpleasant. It feels like everything is collapsing around you. Something happens and you think, “Even this?” But you get more and more immune against surprises. I’m not surprised anymore. I can expect anything from anyone.
When Muhammad Morsi won the Presidential election, what were your concerns, hopes, expectations? Did your opinion differ from that of your friends and family?
That was the moment I knew it was a disaster. That was the moment that I prayed to God that Egypt would just pass this because I knew that they were terrorists. I knew because their history is of being liars. They are deniers. They lie as they breathe. This is why I looked to their pattern of the last 80 years and I see nothing but blood and lying and coming up with excuses. I knew it would be a disaster, and since then I’ve been depressed, until the day that we kicked him out.
Did your opinion differ from your friends and family’s?
Most of my friends have the same opinion. One of the members of my family thinks differently. Actually this member of my family thinks this was going against Islam, and I know this has nothing to do with Islam. Politics has nothing to do with Islam. What they are doing is harming Islam.
Does this difference of opinion impact your relationship with your family member? Are you able to disagree easily?
I’m not discussing things with him until they come up. This person knows I’m thinking so little about his opinion of the situation. He’s thinking the same about me. There will be a day when everyone will know which is right and which is wrong. And I think we are about to know that now.
You mentioned that you knew the moment Morsi was elected that the Brotherhood would be in charge. Was that an automatic? Did everyone else assume that Morsi meant the Brotherhood?
Actually, the people who elected Morsi, either they were people who knew nothing about politics and they know nothing about the history of the “ikhwan” because they don’t know how to read or write and they were tricked by the idea that they represent Islam. Another part of the people voted for Morsi because they didn’t want to go backwards, to the old regime with Shafik. That would have meant that we would have been going backwards, as if the revolution hadn’t happened at all. The third group who voted for him were already supporters of the “ikhwan” and were simply voting for the Brotherhood. All the people who voted for Morsi, they didn’t share the same concept. They had different ideas but they all assumed that Morsi was the only answer. And most of that group who had their vote bought, either with money or a bottle of oil or a bag of sugar.
And this was exactly the same case in Raaba (where the recent protests were cleared) Not everybody was standing there for one concept. Some were looking for sharia, others were looking for freedom, others were looking for “ikhwan”, others for Islam. They were gathered in one place but under many concepts........
..........Stay tuned for the next installment of Mona Hamdi's interview. In the meantime, write in the comments section just below here and share your own opinion with Mona. Ask her questions. She's eager to talk with you.