Having spent four days in Cairo during the mass protests that have led to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, I would like to offer some observations regarding how, as a tourist — particularly a Jew with an American passport — one should behave during a Muslim revolution against a corrupt and repressive government. I do this in the hope that such occurrences will be repeated against other qualifying regimes. And the apparent success of the Egyptian uprising, with miraculously little violence and bloodshed, allows me to do so in a hopefully lighthearted manner.
So despite having felt in no danger at any time, and with tongue pretty much in cheek, I suggest the following ten tips:
- Always smile at a man with a tank.
- If challenged, never display an “alpha” attitude. Under no circumstances should you suggest that you have rights as an American citizen. Our standing around the world ain’t what it used to be.
- Give the “thumbs up” sign to anyone brandishing anything you could be hit with, especially a placard. Do not worry about which side he is on.
- No matter how grateful you may be to emerge unharmed from any confrontation, never offer a tip to anyone with a weapon.
- Avoid speaking English; better to mumble gibberish and/or appear to be mentally ill.
- Do not dress nicely. If you have no grungy clothing, roll around in whatever you find on the street.
- When a representative of the national airline speaks about flights leaving the country, do not listen. It is a lie.
- Try to watch CNN’s reporting of the situation you are witnessing so as to appreciate how totally full of shit they are.
- If you are caught up with demonstrators abusing a CNN reporter, join in. The world will be better for it.
- Remember that popular revolutions are how democracies are born. You are supposed to believe in democracy.
Seriously folks, we should all hope that for Egypt, the relatively peaceful revolution that has begun will continue and bring people relief from the poverty and hopelessness of their lives. Of that, I saw far, far too much, and over the years have seen far too much more of the same or worse elsewhere. Perhaps today’s Egypt will serve as a warning shot across the bow of the world’s too many other Mubaraks.
Maybe Iran will become the next Egypt — a nice thought but hardly that simple. Or maybe the Egyptians will screw it up and become another version of Iran. About this, there is only one rule: nobody knows, least of all anyone on CNN.