GC Poetry: Inner Conflicts // Seif Salem.

What is it that makes up a person, a mentality,
Is it a series of semi-conditioned constituents, maybe,
Or is it an ego, driven by instincts and perceptivity,
Whether those be desire, aggression, or fear of mortality.
In any respect, one finds that clashes, conflicts arise,
Inner conflicts, that may put self-integrity in compromise,
Conflicts, albeit the strength of mind, are in diversity unrestricted, omnipotent,
Constantly taking place on diversified levels that it’s only imminent,
To avoid them is not an option in precincts,
It is merely creating extra, a conflict of conflicts,
Best to aim for confrontation to solve,
Whatever these interferences may egocentrically involve,
Love, lust, hate, disgust, purposefulness, incontinence,
Or the more profound conflicts of existence.
Confrontation is best by knowledge and by wisdom,
Experience too but obliviousness, seldom,
To conclude this there is a need to say,
That these conflicts are present to stay,
It is not unusual for them to appear, it is nature,
Rather than be deficient of such, as a literal life-barren amateur.
Now that you’re thinking, possibly confronting as well.
Ask yourself, what troubles you, what in the hell?


A Book Review: ‘Revolution For Dummies’ By Bassem Youssef.

Over the past number of years, Egypt has seen many public figures and personas rise to fame following the 2011 Revolution. In my humble opinion, Bassem Youssef was among the most important and controversial – for all the right reasons. For those of you who may not have heard of Bassem Youssef – he is a cardiologist, turned political satirist and creator of the TV programme ‘El Bernameg’. ‘El Bernameg’ became the most popular television show in Egypt’s entire history – well, before it got completely shut down…

At the start of the summer, I finally got around to reading Youssef’s book entitled ‘Revolution For Dummies; Laughing Through The Arab Spring’. To account for Egypt’s political state and to discuss the events which eventually led to the country’s current state is a particularly difficult task to carry out – especially if you want to tell the events in an unbiased and accurate manner. While I wouldn’t describe the book to be “neutral”, (and it has no reason to be, as it recalls Egypt’s recent history through Bassem Youssef’s story), it is what I would vouch to be a very honest book. Although Youssef upholds his satirist tone throughout the book, the humour is overshadowed by the despair and troublesome nature of Egyptian politics, which the book sheds light on. Youssef brings into focus, the bloodshed, economic disasters, and murder of free speech that Egypt has become home to. As an Egyptian, I found it tough to read at times, simply because recalling the events that Youssef discusses explicitly in the book hits hard and resigns with anyone who remembers outliving those tough times. Times as tough as the one we are currently imprisoned in, this day and age in Egypt. Youssef doesn’t hold back from calling things out as they are. Whether it be the brainwash delivered in form of preach by the Muslim Brotherhood and it’s supporting network of sheikhs all miraculously turned political TV host experts, or our current president’s media team consisting of puppets clapping along to his every word – Youssef calls everyone out.

Bassem Youssef gives clarity and focus to the confusion that Middle Eastern politics causes. He succeeds in doing so by simply telling his story. We follow his journey from heart surgeon, to revolutionary, to the Arab world’s most talked about TV Host, to his big break in the West as the “Egyptian Jon Stewart”, to eventually leaving behind everything he’s ever known and exiling to the US. Bassem Youssef’s story is relevant to the 2011 Revolution and all that followed, because whether you love the man or hate him, there is no denying he paved the path for freedom of speech within Egyptian media following the revolution. Since his programme’s shut down in 2014, that path has been brought to a swift dead end. He seeks truth in this book, through satire. In a way, he also explains why exiling became his only option – particularly, maybe for those who painted him as a “sell-out” and “traitor” to the country. Youssef doesn’t claim an expert persona nor an analyser of Arab politics. He does not pretend wisdom nor lecture, but rather simply gives an honest account of his story and role in Egypt for the past six years.

One of my favourite aspects of the book was how Youssef didn’t hold back from calling people out on their bullshit. Aside from criticising both the Morsi and Sisi regimes, Bassem Youssef took the time to call out the regular lay on their stand with issues within the country. Particularly, all those “fans” who were so quick to turn on him, once his satire shifted from Muhammed Morsi to Abdelfatah El Sisi. However, it was more than just the switch siders that he was trying to expose. In fact, he used the book to almost act as a wake-up call to every reader, as to where we stand on our values and morals. More importantly, which of our values changed as events within the country did – a crucial aspect that many don’t touch up on when discussing politics within Egypt. You see, politics has not only changed governments in Egypt, but it has had a profound effect on who we now are, what we believe, which values we uphold and which we are willing to sell to merely survive. Even more so, which friends we keep around and even, which family we stay connected to. This is not just the case for Bassem Youssef, who’s family are extremely pro-military and disapproved of him “belittling the army” on his show. Nor is it just his best-friend, Tarek, who lived with the other side of that spectrum, poking fun at the Muslim Brotherhood with a family of full-fledged supporters of the group. This is the case for many Egyptians today. Bassem Youssef justifies his stand in Revolution For Dummies, and subconsciously by reading it, asks you to justify your own.

Although there are moments where I found myself laughing – a result of his brilliant satirical comedy, it was the truths that made this read so intriguing. It was a book I found very hard to put down. Bassem Youssef continues to be a game changer in Egyptian politics, even from behind it’s borders. I would whole-heartedly recommend both this book and his incredible documentary that you can catch on Netflix, entitled ‘Tickling Giants’, for anyone who wants a unique insight into Egyptian politics. Speaking of borders, you may want to be vigilant in entering Egypt’s with this book in hand…

Bassem Youssef’s Revolution For Dummies; Laughing Through The Arab Spring; 5/5.