The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

From 2006 to 2007 a team of four engineers in New York was part of my team in AdWords. One of them was an Egyptian just graduated from MIT. (Actually he was of Turkish extraction, but I got the impression that his family had been in Egypt for a long time and he was no more Turkish than I am Irish.) Like everyone else on the team he was intelligent, productive, and a pleasure to work with.

He left my team after the New Yorkers were reorged to work on other projects, then moved to Cairo and split time between Cairo and New York. Then he left Google to live full-time in Egypt. We drifted out of touch, but when I heard of the riots in Egypt I thought of him, friended him on Facebook, and was happy to discover that he was okay, even though he participated in a small way in the uprising -- his mom smuggled food and water to protesters. (Hence my reluctance to use his name.)

He was jubilant when Mubarak resigned. And hell, if my homeland was ruled by a dictator, I'd be happy to be rid of him too. It would be wonderful if the future of Egypt were determined by people like my former coworker, who is intelligent, humble and liberal. By "liberal" I don't mean "worships Obama and wants to run 1500 billion dollar deficits until all America's money is in the pocket of a public official"; I mean liberal in the classical sense. Believes in the rule of law. Appreciates human rights.

Is against stoning women for cheating on their husbands.

Which is not something you can say about many of his fellow Egyptians, according to this Pew poll:

• 84% favor the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim faith.
• 82% support stoning adulterers.
• 77% think thieves should have their hands cut off.
• 54% support a law segregating women from men in the workplace.
• 54% believe suicide bombings that kill civilians can be justified.
• Nearly half support the terrorist group Hamas.
• 82% of Egyptians dislike the U.S. — the highest unfavorable rating among the 18 Muslim nations Pew surveyed.

(Two notes: First, the US sends Egypt $2 billion a year; happy to see we're getting so much for our money. Second, Egypt is 10% Coptic Christian so the unity of opinion is even more incredible than these numbers indicate. I doubt you could get 84% of Americans to favor the death penalty for even the most heinous crimes.)

Can't wait to see how the elections turn out!

(hat tip: James Donald)

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