I have always had an interest in Egypt. As a child I was fascinated by the pyramids and the postage stamps showing pictures of a postman on a camel. Later, with a growing interest in engineering, I was interested in the construction of the Suez Canal.
However for me, the most important event is the fact that it was a very well known Egyptian heart surgeon who saved my younger daughter's life as a baby getting on for forty years ago. Only recently, since I retired, have I been able to visit the country, something I enjoyed very much in spite of the overpowering heat.
On our most recent visit, last autumn, we went up the Nile from Luxor to Aswan on a river boat (or to an engineer, a modern hotel on a barge). Our Egyptologist guide, a university lecturer, had qualified in the UK and was what I would call a modern Muslim. He was happy to talk about our respective religions and was far from happy about the extremists who were trying to make Islam something that it wasn't. He considered that we'd been very foolish to let Muslims get away with demands for so many privileges in Britain. When he was a student here, he saw no problem in going into a pub, even buying a friend a beer, provided he could have something non-alcoholic.
As we travelled around, we didn't notice any particular western hostility. I used a video camera without any problems, and on one occasion was filming in a street and stopped for fear of problems because a crowd of Muslim schoolgirls were getting off a bus. To the contrary, they all waved at the tourists and wanted to be in the videos. You couldn't do that in England these days!
So I wish the country well. I have high hopes of the army which is modelled on British lines (at one time their officers were mainly Sandhurst trained) and I believe it when they say that they will restore civilian government in due course. Far better this, and hopefully a peaceful transition, that trying to do it now when there are no political parties and the only organised group apart from the government party is the Muslim Brotherhood which seeks an Islamic state.
Hopefully the army might even produce an Egyptian Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who will firmly found a secular state as in Turkey.
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