Out of Egypt: My Four Years Working for a Foreign Government

Celebrations in Tahrir Square on February 11, 2011. Photo by Jonathan Rashad

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…” – Colossians 3:23 (NASB)

Since I began blogging in earnest, I have occasionally referred to the fact that I spent a period of time in the employ of a foreign government: the Egyptian government, to be specific. It was a fascinating epoch in many ways, and yet thoroughly uninteresting in others. Out of respect for my former employer (and here I mean specifically my first boss), I have said hardly anything about this period in public. However, enough time has elapsed that I now feel comfortable sharing some of my experiences.

In 2009, I completed my Master’s degree and began looking for a job that would pay the bills. I applied to numerous think tanks, congressional offices, and government departments. I even considered joining the CIA. What I did not expect was to see a job listing with the Egyptian Press Office in Washington, D.C., a kind of satellite campus of the Egyptian Ministry of Information. Although I had never been to Egypt and did not speak Arabic, I applied. Shockingly, they invited me to D.C. to interview.

I suspect that there were three things that won me the job: 1) I had a good knowledge of politics and media in the United States, which was what they sorely craved. 2) I demonstrated sensitivity toward their culture and religion. 3) The person who interviewed me had attended the same graduate school as myself.

So it was that on a snowy December day, my parents helped me move all my belongings into an apartment in northern Virginia, from which I would commute to my new position as Assistant to the Director of the Egyptian Press Office.

Oddities

Some people are very surprised that I was able to work for the Egyptian government as an American. In fact, many D.C. locals work for the diplomatic outposts of foreign nations, though few of them are in political positions. There are certain limitations that come along with such a job. For one thing, there is little or no opportunity for advancement within the organization, as the big jobs will always be held by the citizens of the country in question. For another, you must be willing to support a government to which you owe no allegiance by birth, and which may be opposed to your own ideals in any number of ways. A further practical consideration: I was treated as a self-employed consultant for tax purposes, which was most disadvantageous. I did at least get a health care plan.

Eleven people worked in our office when I started: eight Egyptian men, one Lebanese woman, one female Filipino receptionist, and me. The men were all Sunni Muslims, though some were more observant than others. The women hailed from the three main branches of Christianity. I variously held down the fort for Muslims attending Friday prayer services and the receptionist who trotted off to midday Mass. At 23 years old, I was also the youngest.

Our office existed to monitor U.S. media coverage of Egypt, help with logistics for American journalists traveling to Egypt and vice versa, perform public relations work for the Egyptian Embassy in D.C., analyze U.S. government policy toward Egypt, and assist the National Democratic Party (the party of power in Cairo) in its own public relations efforts. It was this final aspect of our work that ended up causing me some ethical qualms.

In the course of an average day, I took all the phone calls for our director, Mr. K. These included journalists with interview requests, journalists seeking travel credentials, academics who wanted to chat discreetly about the political situation in Cairo, and a wide variety of more personal calls. Every morning, it was up to the receptionist and me to put together the “clippings”. We achieved this by having Google alert us to any mentions of Egypt in the news. We then copied and pasted the most important stories into a document and sent it to a large mailing list of people within the Egyptian government. In my final year there, I personally put together a U.S. domestic news summary each day. We received the hard copies of seven or eight newspapers, and every morning I picked them up and brought them into Mr. K’s office. If I was alone, I would often glare at the painting of President Hosni Mubarak on the wall.

None of this was the primary reason they had hired me. What they truly desired was my ability to quickly turn out reports that demonstrated a good depth of research. This was the kind of work that I had been prepared for in my academic studies. On any given day, Mr. K might say, “Read this report by the Brookings Institution and write me a three paragraph summary,” or, “Write a ten page analysis of the Obama administration’s policy on Iraq,” or, “Examine how American scholars reacted to the use of foreign poll monitors in our last presidential election.” He would also send me to various lectures and presentations to take notes. Then there was the occasional bid to turn up dirt, as in, “One of our other embassies is thinking of hiring this consulting firm. Figure out if they’ve been involved in any controversies.”

Once a week, I would accompany Mr. K and our political attaché on a walk from our non-descript office building near DuPont Circle to the glitzier digs of our paid consulting firm near K Street. (For those who don’t know D.C. geography, that’s where the real money is spent and made.) This organization was paid more per month than I made in a year to give public relations advice and assistance to the Egyptian government. We were certainly not their only foreign client. I believe they represented the interests of three or four other governments in addition to ours. All of this had to be disclosed with the U.S. Department of Justice because of strict rules about foreign money influencing U.S. politicians. What the Egyptians actually got in exchange for that money was perhaps debatable. The thing that was most precious to Cairo was the massive military aid package authorized by the U.S. Congress as a sort of thank you for Egypt’s willingness to recognize Israel’s existence. We had one of the most powerful lobbying firms in D.C. on that case.

Due to my background as an opinions editor and columnist for my college newspaper, I particularly enjoyed the occasions when we all worked together to draft op-ed pieces in the name of different Egyptian officials. I was not the primary writer, but I did contribute to both the writing and editing process. Thus, some of my work ended up in the New York Times and Washington Post, although I cannot claim that on my resume.

My name did unfortunately end up in print on one occasion. A journalist from the Washington Post called to ask if we had put out a press release on a particular subject. I told him no, and that was the extent of our conversation. Well, this journalist was unable to get anyone to speak with him on the record, and he needed a quote for his piece. Therefore, I was very surprised to see myself quoted as a “spokeswoman for the Egyptian Embassy” saying that we had not put out a press release. This was thoroughly inaccurate, as I was neither an official spokesperson nor an employee of the embassy. Mr. K called me in and reminded me that I was never to speak on the record with journalists. I apologized, but in all honesty, I had never thought that anyone would have a desire to quote such a thing. I ended up in the office of my fellow employee and friend, Mohamed, feeling rather distraught. “Don’t worry about it. These guys are just bastards,” he said.

Things in the Egyptian Press Office were rather odd in a number of respects. The receptionist and I worked a strictly ordered shift every day, but many of the men seemed to float in and out as they pleased. None of the Egyptian employees were considered competent enough in the English language to answer the phone (with the exception of those who were too important). Therefore, the receptionist and I could never take vacation at the same time. This was made both easier and harder by the fact that she typically saved up all her vacation and went home to the Philippines for a month at a time. Another complicating factor was that both of the financial attachés who served there during my time of employment were so uncomfortable with written English that they could not fill out a check. The receptionist usually assisted them, but occasionally I was asked to do it.

Not only our office, but also the ministry in Cairo had no capacity to make a credit card payment, which greatly complicated online transactions. I had two options: either call the company and ask them to take an electronic check directly from our bank account, or pay the cost on my personal credit card and get refunded from a drawer of cash in the financial attaché’s office. With no exceptions, I insisted upon the former.

No one adequately explained to me when I started what our policy was for requesting vacation days. I usually just asked my boss and accepted his approval. If he instructed me to, I informed one of my colleagues who sent some paperwork to Cairo. However, there was one occasion after I had been working there a couple years when I was at my parents’ house in Michigan and received an angry phone call from our financial attaché demanding in broken English to know where I was. “I’m on vacation like I told Mr. K,” I said. I was then alerted to a previously unknown requirement that I inform this man personally and receive his blessing. My mother threatened to come on the line and give him a piece of her mind. As it turned out, when I got back to D.C. and spoke to him in person, he backed down from his hard stance.

The cultural differences between myself and my fellow employees sometimes created awkward or humorous situations. I once heard a colleague use the n-word and had to inform him that it was considered extremely offensive. Another colleague would frequently make comments about my appearance. “You look very shiny today,” was his favorite. He would also ask me, “Why you lose weight?”, inform me that I looked good in black, and on one occasion told me my clothing was tight. (I assure you it was not immodest.) I was once invited to an Egyptian engagement party where I waited three hours for the guest of honor to arrive, by which point I was quite ready to leave. In general, time is a relative thing when it comes to Egyptians. When I observed what a fondness my Egyptian colleagues had for Starbucks coffee, one of them joked that if you look closely at some of those ancient hieroglyphs, you will see the two-tailed mermaid.

My fellow employees were generally quite friendly. We would watch soccer together, particularly during the 2010 World Cup. Mohamed would often bring me drinks from Starbucks, which I appreciated as I was attempting to scrape by on an entry level salary in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. I was able to have several discussions about religion with another employee. The trouble was that he thought I was so nice that he tended to blur the differences between Christianity and Islam. When I asked him point blank if he thought we would see one another in Paradise (the Muslim afterlife), he insisted, “Yes!” This seemed to violate my knowledge of Islamic theology, and it was probably a case of wishful thinking. It often occurred to me that I might be the only committed Christian with which these men would ever interact, and I felt an extra need to maintain a good attitude despite the circumstances.

Mr. K was highly intelligent, well educated, and able to maintain good relationships with most of the major players in our part of D.C. He had already held multiple important positions within Egyptian politics, and I was certain that he could one day become foreign minister or at least the ambassador to the U.S. He was also the most secular minded person in our office and an open advocate of Western political ideals. As he was my boss, it was difficult for me to have spiritual conversations with him, but he did once feed me the line we hear so often from Americans: “I’m spiritual but not religious.”

He came from a family with a history in the Egyptian diplomatic core. I wished he would take a job at the Carnegie Endowment (or somewhere similar) and live out the rest of his days in the U.S. rather than being forced to do the bidding of his Egyptian overlords. Indeed, I believe I suggested this to him on one occasion. However, after I met Mr. K’s father, I knew this would never happen. They had a family reputation to maintain. Mr. K’s wife was the daughter of another Egyptian diplomat. All these people ran in the same circle, went to the same schools, and followed the same path. That is a hard thing to break.

At one point, the Obama administration hosted a Nuclear Security Summit in D.C. with the heads of all the G20 nations. We traveled to the conference center to provide some assistance to the Egyptian press delegation. As we prepared to go through security, I said to Mr. K and Mohamed, “I never set off a metal detector.” “Why’s that?” Mohamed asked. “Because I’m so pure of heart,” I answered. Mr. K then responded, “I always seem to set it off. What does that make me?” Without missing a beat, I said, “Muslim.” Luckily, I had the kind of relationship with those two men that the joke was appreciated.

I tried to be sensitive toward the religious peculiarities of my fellow employees. When the men were all fasting during Ramadan (the one part of Islamic law that they all seemed to follow perfectly), I would close the door to my office and eat in private. I tried not to even let them smell my food. When Pope Benedict XVI took his final helicopter ride as Christ’s representative on earth, I hugged the receptionist while she fought back tears. I strove to be accommodating to everyone. Then at 5:00 p.m. I would leave the office and re-enter the normal world, where I was just another citizen.

Succession

When I first started at the Egyptian Press Office, Hosni Mubarak had been president of Egypt for about thirty years – ever since the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Mubarak was essentially a military officer heading a military government. Yes, they had a functioning parliament and judicial system, and they were a democracy in name. However, the National Democratic Party (NDP) was effectively the party of power. They won with ludicrous majorities of the vote. The main opposition force, the Muslim Brotherhood, was prevented from standing officially. (Some of their members ran as independents.) The education system was a shambles. Civil society was almost non-existent. The only truly decent institute of higher education in the country was the American University in Cairo, which was not Egyptian at all. Rich families sent their children there, or alternatively to universities in the U.S. or U.K.

Egypt was considered a strong ally of the United States because it had made a peace deal with Israel and shared a common interest in defeating radical Islamist terrorism. However, Egypt was also abysmal in the area of human rights. They did not have a truly free press. They rounded up and imprisoned political dissidents. They were known to employ various methods of torture on their enemies. All of this troubled me greatly, and I said so on occasion. Despite this, the government in Cairo was considered to be one of the “better” ones in the Arab world. Yes, their women were often illiterate, were routinely sexually harassed, and were almost always subject to female genital mutilation. However, the question was, could I do more good for these people inside the system or outside of it?

As we worked to develop talking points that the NDP could use in election campaigns and interviews with Western journalists, I tried to subtly challenge some of the false assumptions that they were promoting. For instance, the NDP frequently portrayed themselves as the only alternative to a government controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. To the extent that this might have been true, it was only because they had repressed their more liberal opponents. I believe this is also why the government made few substantial efforts to improve the education system.

The question everyone wanted to know the answer to was, “What happens when Mubarak is gone?” Even Arab countries that do not have monarchies are often controlled by powerful family dynasties, and Hosni Mubarak had a son who was rising in the ranks of the NDP: Gamal Mubarak. Mr. K knew him well, having previously worked with him. Most American observers assumed that at a certain point, President Hosni Mubarak would either retire or die, and his son would then be ushered in as the next president. Yet, even as an employee of the Egyptian government, I had no idea whether or not that was true. There did not seem to be a real plan in place. I think Mr. K might have been as much in the dark on this subject as any of us, but I didn’t dare ask.

Gamal Mubarak was the subject of many rumors. One time he actually granted an interview to CNN. This was considered a very big deal: a possible sign that he was the anointed successor. Even so, there was no public statement. The one time Gamal came to town during my period at the Egyptian Press Office, he did not meet with any members of the press except for one. A certain individual from a major newspaper had their secretary call me and say, “So and so is a friend of Gamal’s. Can they meet privately to talk?” Low and behold, this was the one request that was granted, and rather quickly at that.

I clearly recall having a conversation with Mr. K in which I did not ask him point blank if Gamal was the successor, but said, “If they intend for Gamal to be the next president, they need to start getting him out there more. They need to prepare him.” Of course, I did not like the idea of a familial succession, but uncertainty seemed like the worst scenario. The Egyptian regime was in general the worst of both worlds: it was both authoritarian and incompetent. It denied human rights but was unable to keep people fed. It was, in a word, a mess. I was under no illusion that it could suddenly become a fully liberal democracy: not without the kind of human infrastructure that is needed for such a government to succeed. Therefore, I tried to work toward the best of a lot of bad options.

What was rather remarkable was that in a country of 80 million people, most of them poor, many of them young and unable to afford marriage, all of them forced to bribe officials to get anything done, and some of them subjected to false imprisonment and torture, there were few meaningful protests. Those that did occur were typically small in size and received little publicity. It seemed that the people were convinced that taking to the streets would do no good. The government had been very effective in one thing: preventing the people from organizing.

What the government was not prepared for, probably on account of the fact that they were a couple decades behind technology-wise, was the impact of social media. Although many Egyptians lacked proper garbage pickup, adequate healthcare, and decent schools, a growing number had either a computer or smartphone. Facebook and Twitter were especially popular among young Egyptians. The officials in Cairo did not seem to appreciate how these tools could be used to create a unified and organized protest movement.

One day, Mr. K called me into his office. Mohamed was already sitting there. Both of them were looking at an Arabic blog. A young political dissident named Khaled Said had died at the hands of the police. The official story was that he was in possession of illegal drugs and behaved violently, forcing the police to take action. In all likelihood, those drugs were planted on him after the fact. Everyone knew that Khaled Said had criticized the government. He had attempted to shine a light on police brutality and ended up being the recipient of their wrath. We saw a photo that someone had managed to upload of the dead man’s body. This was not a case of a few punches being thrown or a bullet being fired on accident. What I saw was deliberate and it was done in malice.

The three of us sat there in relative silence, making no attempt to defend what we saw. We simply agreed that it was terrible. A Facebook page quickly sprang up proclaiming “We Are All Khaled Said”, but it gained little traction. It seemed at the time that the greatest effect of this incident was to make me doubt my position with the Egyptian government. My conscience was deeply troubled. I wanted to help make things better for all Egyptians, but it felt like I was complicit in the government’s actions if I continued to support their propaganda efforts. “I am not working for these thugs,” I told myself. “I am working for the Egyptian people, and I am working for God.”

After attending an event at the embassy, I walked past a group of protesters gathered behind a barricade. I quickly said something encouraging to one of them and assured them that they had friends inside. It was around this time that I had a meeting with the head of a group in D.C. that was working to improve human rights in the Middle East. He was an outspoken critic of the Egyptian government. I met with him because we had a mutual friend, and I was hoping to get some career advice. I nevertheless became nervous. I cleared my browser history on my work computer, and the next time I spoke with this man on the phone, I did so from an alleyway down the street.

Finally, after much prayer and consternation, I walked into Mr. K’s office and told him that I was troubled by the actions of the Egyptian government and I did not feel that I could work there anymore. I would stay on until I could find other employment. He did not attempt to argue with me, but simply accepted my decision. When I informed my mother of what I had done, she freaked out. In truth, this was a rather impulsive action for me, and I was certainly afraid of ending up jobless and having to move back to Michigan and live with my parents. I had just started dating the man who would end up being my husband. I did not want our relationship to become a long-distance one. But what could I do? I felt like I was contributing to evil.

Protests

As the year 2010 drew to a close, a Tunisian man lit himself on fire to protest the policies of his government. It seemed like a relatively unimportant event at the time, but for whatever reason, this was the spark that lit the flame of the Arab Spring. Within weeks, the government of Tunisia had fallen. My employers in Cairo were very worried about this. We commissioned our consulting firm to help us draft a document that we would release to the U.S. media and politicians titled “Egypt is not Tunisia”. Although there were certainly differences between the two countries, not the least of which was sheer size, I distinctly remember reading over those talking points and thinking, “Actually, Egypt seems a lot like Tunisia.”

One day in January, protests broke out in Egypt, with young people leading the way. They were upset about police brutality and emergency laws, food shortages and low wages. Basically, they were upset that Egypt’s proud history had left them with no present or future. The government did not immediately begin shooting the protesters, and this proved to be rather decisive. When people saw that they were not likely to die, they came out in even larger numbers. Soon, Tahrir Square in central Cairo was the center of a 24/7 protest movement. No one knew exactly what would happen. It was thoroughly unprecedented for such protests to occur during Mubarak’s presidency.

I happened to be taking a couple days of vacation when the protests broke out, as my sister was in town to visit. This was a relatively important event in my life, as it was the first time one of my family members met my new boyfriend, Jai. Nevertheless, I could not get away from work entirely, as I saw scenes of protesters marching along the Nile whenever I turned on the TV or checked my computer. I was not looking forward to returning to work.

As the days went on, the security forces began to crack down on protesters. Things got very ugly. One of our employees, my best friend in the office at the time, quit and left us with a big hole to fill on top of everything else. I began to keep a running list of the interview requests I received from nearly every major media outlet in the Western world. The Obama administration seemed to be initially supportive of Mubarak, but there was no saying how long that would last as the body count increased. The Americans would not want to be on the wrong side of history.

It was hard to imagine in that first week that Mubarak might actually bend to the protesters’ demands and resign. Indeed, our imagination was all we had to rely on, because the communication coming out of Cairo had slowed to a trickle. If anyone knew exactly what Mubarak’s plans were, they certainly did not tell us, and we were just about the only Egyptian officials in the world taking phone calls from journalists. For this reason, anyone who spoke English called our office, regardless of their country of origin. I was completely stressed out. Even my friends at church, who knew hardly anything about Egypt the week before, were talking about the protests. There was no getting away from it.

This experience resulted in my first real visit to Twitter. The officials in Cairo had finally realized that the protests were being organized through social media. I was assigned to monitor any tweets being made by the protesters in English. I felt rather bad doing this, but it was publicly available information, so I wasn’t exactly snooping. I mentioned in my report that the protesters were sharing login information for different WiFi servers. In hindsight, I should not have done this.

Lo and behold, I awoke the next day to news that the internet in Egypt had been completely shut down. Was it because of my report? Probably not. The majority of the protesters’ tweets were in Arabic, and the officials in Cairo could read those easily enough. Still, I felt somehow responsible. This situation provided another example of how the government was very incompetent in its authoritarianism. I arrived at work and found that we had to do all our business by fax because the government had not been clever enough to keep its own internet service functioning.

I was quite concerned about Mr. K at this time. Despite having announced that I was leaving in the near future, I still felt a certain amount of loyalty toward him, as he had never treated me with anything but kindness and respect. He was burning the candle at both ends and then some in an attempt to stem the tide of media requests. One day, I walked down to his favorite lunch place and bought him several things, which I then presented to him and invited him to eat. He was in one of those states when people tend to forget about such basic necessities of life. To my surprise, he actually took a moment away from the phones and came and sat in my office to eat his food. We had a brief conversation in which it became clear to me that he sympathized with some of the protesters’ demands, though I was fairly certain that he did not favor the chaos of regime change.

Mubarak attempted to pacify the protesters by making a number of concessions short of their demands, such as appointing a vice president. None of this convinced them to go home. There was a rather extraordinary episode in which several men rode into Tahrir Square on camels and began beating up protesters. These were apparently men who gave rides to tourists at the Giza Pyramids and had been paid to come in and scatter people. It was a vivid example of the kind of bizarre and backwards mentality to which the government continued to cling.

Finally, we received the announcement that President Mubarak was going to make a public statement. I think it is safe to say that, without having heard any official word from Cairo, the people in our office all assumed he was going to resign. More than one of our employees invited their wives to come to the office for emotional support. It was an incredibly odd situation. Journalists were demanding to know from me what the president planned to do, but we honestly had no idea. As it turned out, Mubarak did not resign. He doubled down on his earlier position: a limited amount of concessions. The protesters were in an uproar and felt as if they had been slapped in the face. I was quite angry as well. I left that day in a huff.

The next morning, I returned to work still frustrated. I remember walking into Mr. K’s office to hand him something. His eyes were fixed on the television screen, where it appeared that some official statement was about to be made. My heart started to beat a bit faster as I left him alone and returned to my own office. There I saw Vice President Omar Suleiman, who had been in his office for less than two weeks, flanked by military officers. “That can’t be good,” I thought. I could not understand the Arabic, but I gathered from the translator that Mubarak had been forced out. Soon after this, there was another statement from a military official saluting the protesters and assuring them that the military was on their side. (The upshot of all of this was that there had been a military coup. The top military brass decided that Mubarak had become a liability, so they removed him and hoped to pacify the protesters with a minimal amount of changes. I only realized this fully at a later date.)

The phone on my desk rang immediately after the announcement. It was some journalist wishing to know what would happen next. I wanted to say, “Lady, I have no better idea than you do. We’re getting our news from the same place.” Instead, I said, “I’ll have to call you back.” The rest of that day was spent attempting to unravel a mess that we couldn’t fully comprehend. One of my colleagues simply picked up his briefcase and left. Mubarak had been president for his entire adult life. I don’t think he knew how to function under those circumstances. My boyfriend, Jai, left work early and came to sit with me. I’m not sure if Mr. K even knew he was there. Jai was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, and thus technically an agent of another government. Oh well. No one asked.

There was much jubilation in Egypt over the next few days. Everyone seemed optimistic about the future. I did receive a terrible call from someone at CBS saying that one of their female reporters had been sexually assaulted while covering the celebrations in Tahrir Square. This story was later featured in an episode of 60 Minutes, and it is sadly representative of the experiences of many women in Egypt. Overall though, the news seemed good. The interim government announced that Egypt would have truly free elections. Even members of the Muslim Brotherhood would be allowed to officially stand for office, for better or for worse. As things seemed to be improving, I informed Mr. K that, if he was willing to keep me on, I would like to stay. “I’m happy to hear it,” he told me.

Exodus

I continued working at the Egyptian Press Office for another 2 ½ years: long enough to see the rise and fall of Egypt’s first truly democratically elected president. We had very little funding after the revolution, so we could no longer afford the services of that consulting firm. The number of employees in our office was reduced. My ethical concerns likewise diminished, and instead I simply became frustrated with the inefficiency of the government and the lack of any interesting work. In my final year there, Mr. K left and they sent a woman to do the job of two men without the higher title or salary. The sexism in our office seemed to increase. I wanted out of there.

In summer 2012, Jai and I were married, and I was so thankful to have a week-long honeymoon. Sadly, this was only partially for the obvious reasons. I was as glad to have a week off of work as anything else. As it so happened, the Air Force told us in 2013 that Jai’s next assignment would be in Dayton, Ohio. I did not really want to leave the D.C. area. I loved my church and had made some very good friends. I loved our life there. Nevertheless, the transfer gave me a convenient way to quit my job without hurting anyone’s feelings. During my last week on the job, I trained my replacement. I couldn’t help thinking that the poor young man didn’t know what was about to hit him.

On my final day, the other two ladies in the office were rather teary eyed. I had been a major help to my new female boss when she came to the U.S. I think she felt rather forlorn at the prospect of my departure. Nevertheless, when that door closed behind me and I walked out onto the street, I felt a wonderful sense of relief. As it so happened, I ended up saying good-bye to my entire career in international relations. I had given four years of my life to the Middle East and suffered for it mentally. That was enough.

In scripture, people often go to Egypt for a time of testing and growth. The Lord then calls them out of Egypt to something better. I cannot help but think that, in some small way, this echoes my own experience. There is so much more I could say about my time working for the Egyptian government. The bottom line is that it taught me many things, it allowed me to form some of the most important relationships of my life, and it caused me to cling to God in new ways. I hope you have enjoyed reading my story, and should you ever find yourself caught in the middle of a revolution, you know who to call.

P.S. With respect to those who protested in winter 2011 and all who continue to fight for civil rights in Egypt, what happened there was not a revolution in the fullest sense. The country is currently ruled by another military strongman who receives a ridiculously large share of the vote. The military had the real power in the beginning, and they have the real power now. It is still a police state with a corrupt justice system. Therefore, it was not truly a change of regime, but a change of government. Until the human infrastructure of the country is built up and the education system is improved, it will be difficult for Egypt to become a full-fledged liberal democracy. Let us hope and pray for the future of Egypt, and particularly for harmony between Muslims and Coptic Christians.

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