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A carpenter named Mahmood

"The Brotherhood won't rule Egypt," he says, "The Coptics were already here when the Muslims came, there are Christians and Churches, ma yinfa3sh ... The next leadership will come from the youth."

He is a carpenter from al-Mansoura . His wife is from Marg in Cairo. They live in Assala, a sha3bi neighborhood, poor and under-serviced.

Assala: Unpaved roads, no side walks, open manholes; houses with tin roofs held down by junk: tables, strollers, chairs and rocks. All houses seem to have satellite dishes, except for one. Its roof is made of pressed sugar cane mixed in with paper, and rolled out into sheets. The early winter rain has left the roof sagging, with moss for decoration.
In Assala, many people leave their doors open; sitting on their sills, they are on the road. Children play barefoot on the streets, and the goats chew on flowers and litter.

On the way to the carpenter's house, we pass a corner store. It is a window, opening into a room of a house. Shelves line the walls; they carry dusty boxes of packaged food. The window sill is smoothed out by the many bodies that have reclined against it.
A customer is eating his chips while chatting to Abu Mina, the shop owner. The latter passes him the communal cup of water. A large tin cup, it sits there for anyone to drink. Abu Mina's family it sitting in the other room, the window is open there too. They are eating dinner. He goes back and forth between them and the store. A short commute.

We reach a blue gate, a sign hangs on the gate, with "Abu Ali's Carpentry" and a phone number underneath. This is the right place, but the gate is closed. An old man calls to us from across the road.. Wearing thick classes and holding a stick, he sits on a step propped up against the wall. He tells us to sit. This is Abu Ali's father. He walks in with us when his son returns.

The house is simple and clean. We take our shoes off and sit cross legged in the living room. The walls are made of cement, painted with a fading blue, with pen markings scribbled in various places. The room is square and all the rooms open into it: two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom tucked away somewhere.
The room is sparse: A rug, a mattress underneath a pile of blankets, and a small TV on a side table. At the back end of the room, a child's bicycle is hooked in the ceiling. It belongs to Hajar the carpenter's daughter, she's four.

The TV is turned to the News. Abu Ali gives us an update on world affairs.
"The Egyptian people recognize that they've only removed the 'head', and they still have to deal with the rest of the body. The West thinks of Arabs as either terrorists or extremists, but the people are neither, it's the governments. Egyptians are simple people, they function on instinct (fitra), they have no problem with Muslims, Christians or Jews, the government instigates the strife. It benefits from it. After the attacks against Churches in Alexandria, the people started to wake up. We've been walking like mules for over thirty years, it's time to say Khalaas."

Abu Ali switches to another news channel. The piled blanket next to him on the mattress moves. We don't ask, but he answers. "This is my son Ali, he is mentally and physically retarded, cannot walk. We spent 6,000 pounds on him last year. There is no help from the government, no medical coverage or breaks."

Abu Ali's wife comes in with tea, she carries Ali in her arms and goes to the other room. I see his deformed legs. Flies quickly cover his pillow on the ground.

"Egypt exports Gas to Jordan and Israel, where does this money go? And Rafah .... we have a peace agreement with Israel, but the US and France give a lot of aid money to Mubarak to 'monitor' the border, so why not keep it. Countries manufacture weapons and they need to sell them somewhere, so they create war."

Abu Ali's father enters the room, carrying a doll in his hand. He sits in front of the TV and changes the channel to a Hindi movie. Abu Ali laughs "My father likes these movies." Hajar comes out and snatches the doll from her grandfather's hand. "This is my doll," she says assertively, "it's not yours, you understand." She tosses the doll to the wall, only slightly missing her father's shoulder, before she walks out.

"The young people who led the January 25th revolution want to form a party and get representation in government." Abu Ali says. "The next leadership will come from within them .. Akeed, insha'allah (for sure, god willing)."



God willing more leadership around the world will come from the people.Miss you Lana...take care!

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