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Facebook … Mon Amour

November 14, 2013

There is this special friend in my life that I spend time with at least 1 hour a day. Whenever I open his window, he would ask me gently “what is on my mind?” Or “how am feeling today”. He can be available at any time day and night welcoming my silly comments and anything I feel the urge of sharing. It is more awkward, if I tell you that my husband happen to have the same person as a mistress and so does my father, my brother and 864 people from my family and friends. Our common lover’s name is Facebook!

See, I spend a big deal of time thinking about my relation with Facebook and how does it affect my social life. I concluded that there is very few things in life that I can’t do with my blue and white personal profile. We can gossip, watch videos, play games, remember old memories while viewing old albums, celebrate birthdays, attend events, support causes, discuss politics, read, write, and even Poke people for fun!

In fact Facebook is a reflection of my social life and is ruled by the complexity of my human connections and ties. For example, there are things you keep public and others you keep private. You can show things to some people and hide them from others. There are some pictures which you want to share with your friend but hide from your family, and feelings you can’t put on your status because you care for the feelings of your friends or fear to hurt your colleagues at work.

I totally disagree with people who say “get a life and sign out from social networks” because the best profiles belong to people who actually have A Life, as the more you do things on the real life, the more writings, pictures and stories you have to share and thus you get a more interesting virtual life.

It is true that I’ve had some symptoms of facebook addiction sometimes like when I sat on the morning after my wedding to upload the nearly 200 pictures captured by my friend Corinne. Or when 5 minutes after I delivering with a cesarian I asked for my mobile to announce the birth of my son from the reanimation room. Yet, for a person who lived in different countries of the world and who has friends from over 40 countries what could be better and cheaper to keep in touch other than Facebook! Well, sometimes I cheat on facebook with the new guy called twitter, but that doesn’t count because I made sure they know about the time I spend with the other by synchronizing them.

When I lost a job because an article I published on facebook few years ago, I decided to go Off-Line and reconsider my priorities. Then, I started hearing people around me talk about all sorts of things I was missing like who met who and who said what and that video that went viral and that funny picture about that famous politician… I found myself in less than a month melting out of temptation like a kid in a candy shop. I am still proud of my record of 27 days of abstinence. Another diet on the list!

I should confess that it sometimes scares me to think about data security and confidentiality and about sharing more than what I am supposed to do with a global platform that I do not control. I even get more scared when I think that I have exposed and gave my son a virtual identity that he might not want to have once mature enough to decide for himself. However, I comfort my self by repeating that if someone wants my data there is worse than facebook like satellites, cell phones or my Bawaab (door-man), unless I choose to isolate my self from modern life and live with the Touaregs in the great sahara.

I believe that so far facebook has been a great window of opportunities for me to have a mental image about political views and general trends. I have a very diversified friend list of journalists, activists, artists, family, childhood classmates who range from the extreme right to the extreme left. I also have photo albums, series of statuses, groups, and pages that constitute together my Virtual Capital!

Finally, I wanted to talk with you about what happens to my virtual identity if I die. I take the opportunity to ask you not to put a black and white picture with a black bar on my profile picture and start unfriending me right away, because maybe there is an afterlife for me and Facebook Mon Amour when I leave definitely the physical world…

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Horror on the Desert Road

November 14, 2013

‘’Nawarty Masr’’ said the driver, holding my name in a piece of paper and waiting for me at terminal 3 of Cairo airport. He probably thought that I am a tourist coming from Casablanca and excited to discover the wonders of the land of the pharaohs. ‘’is it your first time in Egypt?’’ he asked me while putting the baby’s stroller on the back of the agency’s Hyundai. ‘’I lived in Egypt for 4 years now’’ I replied tiredly as I wanted to put an end to the conversation since I just had a hell of a 5 hours flight with a sick 5 months baby who didn’t stop vomiting on me. At that moment I didn’t suspect that the real horror was still waiting for me on the road.

Finally, I was in a car holding my sleeping baby and relaxing, while thinking of nothing but a hot bath and a comfortable bed after a fruitful mission in my home country: Morocco. After one hour stuck in Cairo’s famous jam, Hussein the driver said desperately looking for some kind of conversation to kill the time ‘’who did you vote for Madame?’’, ‘’I am not Egyptian, I don’t vote, and you who did you vote for’’ I replied carelessly just not to ignore him. ‘’I voted for Mursi as he is the best among the worse’’.

I was half asleep, at 00:30h 5 kilometres before the gates of Alexandria, when all of a sudden a light blue Chevrolet Optra with no car plates came out of nowhere of the you-turn and tried to hit our car. In the beginning, I didn’t realise what was happening to us and thought it must be some drunk young men heading to the north coast. Then the car hit us again and came right in front of us and stopped suddenly. We went straight into the strange car, and the sock woke up the baby and made the driver shout loudly ‘’Thugs! Thug!’’. The brave Hussein, drove the car with all its speed backward and made some Hollywoodian manipulation and went towards two trucks which were on the Cairo – Alex desert road. Meanwhile, our aggressors didn’t give up, seeing that there was only the driver and I in the Hyundai. They came on our right and started hitting us again trying to get us outside the main road. At that moment, my eyes crossed the eyes of the Optra’s driver. Cold evil eyes of a dark skin man who has many scars on his face as a witness of a criminal past. He was holding a firearm and knocking on his ride’s window asking us to poll out of the road and stop. Seeing the gun and the scary faces of the two ‘’Baltagiya’’ on that Chevrolet, I had the reaction of holding tight my baby and getting down under the seats, as the first thing that came to my mind was the possibility that they might start shooting our tires if we don’t stop.

I don’t know how many minutes I spent under that seat, but for me time was frozen, and I was looking at my baby and thinking: what if they shoot him? What if they rape me? I started trying to remember the valuable things I have in my luggage to offer them in order to convince them not to kill us. I thought of my friend Karim who got stopped on this same road by thugs who stole all his goods, his car, and even the coins of money on his pocket. Yet, I am not Karim, I am a woman with a baby, and when it happens to someone else no matter how close he is it’s not the same when it happens to you. I also remembered when I was in Rio with my friend Majd, when a men holding a M16 raised on the highway and started shooting, and how our driver laughed at us and said ‘’ it’s normal! welcome to Brazil!’’ while deviating him with his bullet proof taxi. 

Hussein’s voice interrupted my scared thoughts when I heard him saying ‘’you can come up Madame, I can see Alexandria’s gates’’, as if Alexandria’s gates were the doors of paradise where the deliverance from our nightmare was waiting for us. I was still under chock and the tears fiercely came down my frightened pale face. Hussein, him was shouting ‘’we deserve El Adly, I regret voting for Mursi. I should have voted for Shafik! This f…… country needs security!’’.

At Alexandria’s gates, we stopped at the police checkpoint and told the officer about the description of the car and what happened to us hoping that they will send a patrol to get the Baltagiya. In the contrary, the officer stared at us and said carelessly ‘’this happens often. We know these thugs. It’s normal’’ I prefer abstaining from saying what I think of that officer because the problem is way bigger than what happened to me, and I chose to tell the story as it happened without side comments or analysis, because it doesn’t need any.

We headed to Alexandria where our loved ones were waiting for us to get back safe. We didn’t pay attention that we left the radio on during the entire incident, where a nationalistic song was singing ‘’you are the dear Oh my country! And you are the most beautiful Oh my country! If things get bad, we will fix them, and if things get wrong, we will sing for you. Oh my country! Oh my country!’’.

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X Islam +18

March 25, 2012

Why Islamic clergies are obsessed by the sexual life of the believers? Why their entire genie is focused on erotic and sexual jurisprudence? Why instead of finding solutions to the daily real problems of Muslims such as health, education and elementary goods prices rise, they would rather compete who will release the most bizarre X Fatwa? Most of us prefer to laugh about these Fatwas and share them on social media with their friends, but after a while I stopped finding it funny and decided to denounce this furry of odd Islamic instructions without reserve because I will not let some sick ‘’Sheikh’’ with a two mitres long beard and a questionable Islamic studies degree tell Me, the standard honourable Muslim, how to live my life!

We all remember the Egyptian Sheikh who asked women to breastfeed their colleagues at work so they will all become ‘’breastfeeding sons’’, and the women can go to work freely starting from that moment! This ignorant religious man, who obviously ignores everything about adult sexuality and psychology, seems not considering that an adult woman giving her breast to an adult man is a sexual act and moreover in all professional ethics around the world it would be a scandal to have such practices in working spaces!

More absurd were the recent Saudi religious statements that women shouldn’t drive cars because driving can make them loose their virginity! Are you serious? I really don’t see the difference between sitting on a comfortable couch and sitting on a car seat, or did the generous Saudi Sheikhs did a special experiment that we don’t know about on car seat and found hidden phalluses who target women while driving. And if true in that case the hidden phalluses must have targeted their manly fat behinds as well!

Another Fatwa was advising that women shouldn’t eat cucumbers or bananas because their shape can suggest a male phallus, which according to the same bizarre Islamic jurisprudence would push women to commit the deadly sin of flesh. I will respond by saying in that case we should stop men from eating peaches, plums and apples or any circular fruits that may suggest a female breast. We can push our sick imagination to the extremes and ban men from smoking Shisha, because of the homosexual act it can imply! If God wanted us to have a special dietary according to our gender, I think he would have said so in the abandon literature he sent us.

The Egyptian Salafi presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Smail, who was a Sheikh in a recent past life, has his own bizarre theories, as he was suggesting few years ago to cover all pharaonic statutes with giant underwear not to show their flesh because, according to him, these monuments were symbols of pagan idolatry. Imagine with me one second what Egypt would be without its mummies and hieroglyphs and how we’ll have to print new postcards of Egypt with the Sphinx wearing a giant dipper!

Morocco is not an exception to this sexual fever, as we have our own parliamentarian, the very emancipated and liberal Sheikh Zamzami, who stood last year for the freedom of masturbation and who was back this year with the brilliant fatwa which says that sex toys are Halal to release the frustration of women! All this in a schizophrenic country where a first sex toy shop was just opened in Casablanca while the sexist law forced the minor Amina Filali to marry her rapist according to the article 475 in order to save her family’s ‘’honour’’!

This obsession of some Islamic clergies by sex as one of the main taboos in our region, enhanced by media and social media where the users would always choose to share the sensational and bizarre news, is a very dangerous phenomena which not only compromises the image of Islam in the world picturing Muslims as sexual animals, but also makes the standard open minded Muslim like myself feel ashamed of these reductionist instructions and want to grow a beard and release a Fatwa to kill all this frustrated Sheikhs!

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It’s Not Your Business If We Kiss His Ass

January 12, 2012

In Egypt and Sudan female circumcision is still widely practised, in Tibet they still cut in pieces the death and throw them to the birds, in east Africa some tribes slice their phallus, in India they still burn widows alive, and in Kuwait men shake noses instead of shaking hands… Yet, no one finds it chocking and everyone says ‘’it’s cultural!’’ to stay politically correct! But when it comes to some Moroccan stupid old fashion general kissing the hand of the crowned prince, no one thinks it’s cultural and many Arabs start criticizing Moroccan internal affairs!

If I’ll meet the crowned prince Moulay El Hassan or even his father Mohamed VI, I don’t think I will kiss their hands, because I only postern to God who created me, but no one will cut my head or put me in prison for that! What other Arabs don’t understand or refuse to admit is that we are different and we have different traditions and histories, even if they cross so often. Therefore, it’s no one’s business what we do with our 12 centuries monarchy, and if some traditional or old school servants of the throne still want to show their allegiance to the royal family by kissing their hands, because they think it’s the way to show respect to the offsprings of prophet Mohamed, it’s up to us to judge them and not to you!

We have a proverb in Morocco that says ‘’wait until you have crossed the river and dried your feet to give advices’’. I will say the same proverb for my Arab readers, who just got out of their revolution and who still have wet feet in the mud of years and years of oppression, but who already became specialists in Arab world’s politics and start giving advices and exporting their experiences to countries which live in an entirely different context. Some of these people come from countries that didn’t exist on the map 50 years ago, others from places where my father is older than their monarchies, and most from countries to which Nasser exported his military socialist model 60 years ago. No need to say that it’s Nasser’s legacy hires who the people are revolting against today in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia etc because apparently the citizens of these countries realised that they prefer a civilian liberal rule rather than a pan-Arabist military one.

Now let’s take the Moroccan example. While Nasser and his clan were mocking our monarchy 60 years ago, we chose another path, a path of gradual democratic transitions, a liberal economy, structural adjustments, strategic partnerships with the West, and a reconciliation process which started long enough to start giving its fruits. Yes Hassan II was a hard father on us. Yes you can call him a dictator in regards to certain decisions he took. But, that clever king saved us historically from 60 years of ‘’ideological adolescence’’ if we had taken the Nasser path like everyone else in the region. And now in less than 15 years we had voted for a leftist government, a right wing government and now we are trying the Islamist model, all without any complex and in a mature transitional democratic process that we are internally very critical about!

I don’t pretend my country is perfect. I know better than anyone that it has its strengths and weaknesses. We have a young movement which is militating for constitutional and economic reforms called the 20th of February, which recently made things advance to the better and created a fresh dynamism in the relations between the castle and the elites. However, I don’t tolerate lesson givers who know nothing about our culture, politics and traditions except from Samira Said and the footballer Hadji, and I have one thing to tell them ‘’None of your business if we want to kiss our monarchy’s hands or asses!’’.

P.S: the video everyone is talking about http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ2pn8_XT2M

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A Letter to My Belly

January 6, 2012

Only one week before your birth, only 7 days before you become an autonomous human being. I am feeling insomniac and stressed like never before. It’s worse than waiting for an exam results, a feedback on an interview or a message from a loved one. This is the countdown for LIFE. So I decided to do what I do best: writing therapy. Yet, it feels much more difficult and serious than writing an article for a newspaper or a note for my blog. This is writing a letter for an unknown being inside my belly, my son.

I remember the day your father proposed to me. I was in Morocco and he was in Egypt in the middle of an apocalyptic demonstration where he was seeing people being shot around him, furious youth chanting, and a smell of spring and hope in the air. No romantic speech, no diamond ring, no leaning on his knees, just a ‘’If I die tonight, the only thing I will regret is not marrying you and if I survive and Mubarak’s regime collapses it will be a sign that everything is possible and that we are meant to be together’’… and I said Yes!

I remember how I felt when one morning one month after our big fat Moroccan wedding; I woke up feeling dizzy and strange as if I sensed an unusual presence in my body. Your father and I went to the doctor all confused, and in the echography screen there was a cell and inside the cell a tiny white blinking spot, ‘’it’s the heart of your baby!’’ said the doctor. From that moment I fell in love with you even before you becoming a proper human being!

There are many things I need to apologize to you for. First for dragging you around in 4 continents for the last 9 months on planes, trains, cars, boats, buses and microbuses. If you choose later to become a hard rock musicians I won’t blame you because I will be responsible for that one! However, you can consider yourself a lucky child who has lots of experience even from within, and you can put on your CV that you met Sheikha Mozah, Ban Ki-Moon, and Erdogan, visited the State Department, the Council of Europe and the NATO, had dinner with Marzouky, Hermes and tata Corinne, smelled Musk, Hash and Tear Gas, and tasted Caviar, Foul, and Couscous…

I also need to apologize to you for violating your intimacy, exposing you on social media and nicknaming you Sardina. Forgive me baby, but my friends and family are all around the globe and the joy of having you is so big that I needed to share it with the world. For the Sardina part, I think no matter what we will name you on formal papers by now everyone know you with your nickname. I even surprised your father one Ramadan night praying God and saying ‘’Please God bless and protect my son Sardina’’, so even up there they know Mr. Sardina Mohamed Awad!

Furthermore, I need to apologize for bring you to the world in such a date, where our region is living a turmoil and everything is uncertain. I know the earth is overcrowded and over polluted with toxic wastes and hatred speech and maybe the fruits won’t taste the same as when I was a kid myself, nor the landscapes will be as green. Yet, I can promise you that there will still be flowers to smell, seashells to collect, books to read and animals to play with.

I will not impose on you my taste, my choices, my religion, nor my political views, because I believe that the clever baby you are already have inside of him the light of the truth. Therefore I will do my best to help you keep that flame alive. In addition, I don’t want to impose on you my Moroccan culture or your father’s Egyptian culture, with all our heritage of chauvinism, guilt, schizophrenia and frustrations. Even if I had the chance and the strong temptation, I didn’t want to give birth to you in the US or Europe for offering you a blue passport, as I don’t want to doom you to a history, an anthropology or a geography. I would like you to be proud of being a fruit of a multicultural love, to have access not only to our two cultures but to all cultures and to choose by your own where your heart belongs to.

Finally baby I am asking you to give me a chance to learn how to be your mother. I confess having no previous experience for this risky job. I have tried my best reading books, singing songs and caressing you while inside my belly, but I know that it takes more than that to be a good mother. You didn’t choose to be my son, while I chose to be your parent. That’s why I am sorry if I don’t meet your expectations, if I am chaotic, idealistic and badly prepared for the adventure of motherhood. All I have to offer for sure in my unconditional and infinite Love. Would you accept it?

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منبت الأحرار، مشرق الأنوار”: رسالة شابة إلى ملكها”

January 3, 2012

 

ملكي العزيز محمد السادس،

أما بعد،

منبت الأحرار، مشرق الأنوار“، هكذا قيل لنا عن وطننا الحبيب المغرب ونحن أطفال. أنا لست من الحمر الباحثين من الربيع في فبراير، ولا من ذوي العمامات الخضر الذين يحجون إلى قبة البرلمان في محرم. أنا الثلاثون مليون الذين يعشقون بلد يتماها فيه الأحمر والأخضر في علم واحد. أنا جيل ولد في السنوات العجاف، سنوات الرصاص والجفاف وإعادة الهيكلة القحطاء الذي يرنو لنسيانها في ربيع يزهر في ظل حكمك.

“بالروح، بالجسد، هب فتاك، لبى نداك” من شباب لا يرضى أن يكون مجرد رقم في مؤشرات التنمية البشرية. أنا شاب لا آبه بقشور الحياة من توظيف مباشر في مسالك الدولة، أو بتطبيب مترف في أحد مستشفياتها، ولا حتى بسكن كريم في مدنها الجديدة. قد أكون قد تماديت في رفع الكلفة بيني وبين جلالتك. أعذر طمعي في عطفك، وقد رأيت من طلقهن الشعب من جنان السياسة قد قصدن بلاطك كحواريين. كيف لا وقد اعتاد الأنذال دق باب الأشراف بحثا عن خرقة تستر عورتهم الوجودية. وكيف لا تنصفني أيها الشريف أنا شعبك وقد قصدتك طالبا القصاص منهم . أنا “في فمي وفي دمي ثار نور ونار” سعيا وراء حقي الدستوري الوحيد الذي لست مستعدا للتخلي عنه: الكرامة.

ملكي، “هيا للعلى سعيا”ǃ لقد دقت درعا بالألاعيب السياسية الخارقة، والنخب المارقة، والصحافة المسيئة، والأحزاب الرديئة. قد أكون أخرقا حينا وعاطفيا أحيانا، لكن “ذكرى كل لسان” لست أنا من خان أباك الذي كان يسير بيني في الأسواق، ولن أخونك أنت الذي ينحني لأراملي ويقبل مشلولي. بل هي الضباع التي استأسدت في عهدك والتي تحوم حول صولجانك مدعية الشباب الأبدي التي من شأنها أن تعض يدا جادت عليها يوما.

نحن شباب نريد أن نمضي بين الشعوب رافعين رؤوسنا نشهد الدنيا، أن هنا نحيا بشعار: الله، الوطن، الملك”.

“عشت في الأوطان، للعلى عنوان”.

شابة مغربية

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They Masturbated Egypt!

November 24, 2011

If you think I am too vulgar, too bold or too choking, you can blame it on my 8 months pregnancy hormones if it can make you digest better what I have to say. That been said, let me tell you how much the system in Egypt thinks you are cheap with your dreams of change, to the extent that they deprived you from a real revolutionary orgasm after January 25th revolution, and preferred to gently masturbate your 58 years of military frustrations and propaganda by giving you fake fantasies of a glorious Egypt, while nothing has changed for the past 9 months.

Too Good to be True

“Too good to be true”, that’s the only relevent expression I can use to describe what happened in Tahrir Square in January 2011. We’ve seen civilised people chanting, peaceful demonstrations, supportive international community, and in less than a week a dictator, who ruled for more than 30 years, collapsed!

When you have been ruled since the 50s by a military regime, when you are neighbour with Israel, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, and when you have the Suez Canal and a frank Mediterranean coast facing Europe, don’t expect to change a complicated context in 18 days of camping in a square and tweeting to the world your rage. With my due respect to the more than 300 martyrs and all the honest youth, but they would have never let you do that and the proof is the brutal confrontations we are having with the police since the 19th of November as if nothing changed!

I was doing a fellowship two months ago, and had the change to meet the great Egyptian Dr. Makeen Makeen, who is a senior lecturer at SOAS, London. He explained how Egypt missed a historical momentum in Jan25 by not choosing to build a proper democracy according to the three famous post-conflict democratic models: the Japanese model which consists in turning the page and starting anew; the Hungarian model which led step by step reforms, and the South African model based on truth investigation and national reconciliation, which is the most relevent one for the Egyptian case. Instead, the SCAF in its quick masturbatory efforts chose to ignore all democracy models and to go for an Egyptocracy based on an improvised referendum and a cinematographic trial of Mubarak and company!

Walk like an Egyptian, Pee like an Egyptian

How nice and symbolic were all the pictures and the underground songs produced during the revolution… Yet, how over used and abused they were in feeding the nationalistice ego and keep the standards Egyptian busy while the regime was stealing his revolution! And don’t you think we also over abused the meaning of demonstrations to the extent it became a national sport or a friday carnival where friends hang out together, concerts are being held and promotional products being sold. I don’t say that Egyptians don’t have the right to celebrate, but let’s be very careful of not banalising non-violent protests, because it will mean that we started masturbating ourselves without the help of the regime.

In one of his note Adil Abel Wahab a theatre director from Alexadria described how Tahrir was a perfect theatre scene where everyone was just acting in front of live broadcasting international cameras. According to him the chanting, the trash collecting, the peaceful coexistence were all “Ethics of Tahrir” which we leave behind us once we leave the square and stop playing the role of the educated responsible citizens. After the nice scenes the world saw on TV, we still don’t clean in front of our own houses, the administration is still corrupted, the traffic still messy, the sexual harassment the same… So can you tell me what did we revolt against? Another shameful action was when Israel killed Egyptian soldiers on the borders. The normal attitude would have been the Sharaf’s government cutting economic and diplomatic ties with this country like what Turkey did and full stop. However, we preferred being uncivilised and creating a false icon of a flying men who stole a piece of cloth and young men sick enough to pee collectively on the wall of a historical building.

The Islamist and the Stripper

We all agree that one of the main winners of Jan25 was the islamist movements, whether the Muslim brotherhood or the Salafis, who jumped into the political scene and the neighbourhoods to mark their territories more sharply and openly than before, helped in that by their years of field experience and the balkanisation of the political scene in Egypt. During the last Eid El Adha it was so obvious that on the field the country was devived between the two main Islamist trends which control the allegiance of the masses with a religious stick. I have seen them building massive tents, organising huge charity events and even stopping you from parking your car in front of your house just “because they said so”!

Few days later, the country’s online community woke up horrified by the images of Alae Al Mahdi, a young wanna-be adolescent who published her naked pictures in a blog in order to defy patriarchal norms. This dicholomy shows one thing: there is a huge gap between virtual Egypt and Real Egypt. One is ruled my moustaches, and the other by liberal taboo-defying youth.

Now you can tell me it’s not your business, you are not even Egyptian or shut up and leave, but I may be Moroccan yet I carry an Egyptian citizen in my belly and I care very much about the country to whom he belongs which is my home too. I go every day carrying him inside of me to the demonstrations looking for hope for a better future in the tears of the blinded eyes by tear gas, in the blood of the youth who carelessly confront mighty police forces, in the smiles of the volunteer doctors, and in the phone calls of the worried parents. As a parent, I believe in the reloaded revolution, and would like my son to have more options than 50 more years of military masturbatory rule, or an islamist rule in which it will maybe Haram for lady Egypt to have a proper revolutionary orgasm!

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