The angst of Egypt from afar

BOREDOM, frustration and being out of work are some of the less-recognised disadvantages of trying to persuade your country to adopt democracy, according to Jacqui Forest.

The Bonville resident, who is well-known for her belly-dancing tuition and performing under her stage name ‘Jade’, has friends in Egypt and spent time visiting and travelling in the country in October, before the present round of massive pro- tests against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak erupted.

One of her friends taking part in the protests is a tourist guide but now has no work because there are no tourists.

Although she said he was getting bored going to endless protests, standing in the street for hours chanting and listening to motivators, like many of the other young, educated and patriotic Egyptians, who began the protest movement, he is still hoping and wanting change to happen, Jacqui said.

“He is feeling a bit downhearted because it is taking so long to make a difference,” she said.

She enjoyed her own experience as a tourist, saying she was treated with great courtesy and felt safer in city streets in Egypt than she does in Australia, but there were constant grumbles about the price of food and fear of the moral police was everywhere.

Visiting the home of a famous and multi-talented belly dancer with other Australian dancers, Jacqui and her fellow travellers were warned not to wear dance outfits in the street and not to discuss dancing until they were safely inside the performer’s home.

Even though they did as instructed, officers of the moral police arrived at the door while they were there and questioned their hostess about the gathering of Western women.

She said people would not discuss politics in public and while meat was on the menu at restaurants, trying to order it usually revealed it was not in fact available.

“But quite a lot of things in Egypt are like that . . . fluid.”

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