Thursday, February 26, 2009

Passport Pickup & Conspiracy Theories

Though it's often not the case, I find sometimes that I am growing impervious to the many pitfalls of bureaucracy at AUC or in Egypt. In those magical moments either a spontaneously kind action on the part of someone else or steely resolve on my part yields the desired result and I feel as though I've won a little victory. My switching courses and joining the Master's and my fellowship application confirmation are all part of the former category whereas the retrieval of my passport which has been sitting, with my student visa inside, was of the latter variety.
I'll know about the fellowships at the end of April and my visa, inside the passport that took six phone numbers and four trips up four flights of fire escape stairs to reacquire, lasts until the end of June. Lots of waiting. I don't know my summer schedule yet, but I'll inevitably be in the States at some point to give Rotary speeches and to see family and friends.

The motivations behind last Sunday's bombing are no clearer even with arrests made. Egyptians on the street are, as they do with many things, quick to blame it on the Israelis. Yes, there are huge numbers of Egyptians who wholeheartedly and sincerely believe things like this are the work of the Mossad. I may've mentioned before that I was told at a Rotary function that "it certainly wasn't Arabs behind 9/11" and the shopkeeper at the corner market across from AUC's Greek Campus told a friend that the bombing in the Khan al-Khalili "couldn't have been Egyptians. There are no terrorists in Egypt." Who then? The Israelis. Riiiight. It is this genre of regressive ideas that keeps many Egyptians from approaching regional conflict in a clear-headed way. Given the Lavon Affair, I can see where it might come from, but the sort of conspiracy-theory nonsense that runs rampant in Cairo certainly is way off base. It makes it easier to have an "Other" to blame. Americans are guilty of it too; we're big fans of conspiracy theories ourselves. Think back to the presidential campaigns and those who were alleging that Obama was a Muslim hellbent on Islamizing America. May we all be just a bit more rational and clear-headed.

News and links:
"Mubarak flexes his muscles" in Foreign Policy
"The Fear Factor in Travel" at HuffPost
Egyptian human rights NGO criticizes public prosecution office

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