So You Think You Understand Egypt?

Time for a reality check: David Frum (via Jeffrey Goldberg) worries — with good reason — that don’t understand Egypt as well as we think:

80 million people in the country. 17 million in Cairo. 200,000 protesters in Tahrir Square. Only the ones who speak English appear on our TV.

When we talk about the reach of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egyptian society – or conversely the appeal of democracy – we are talking about things about which nobody knows very much and probably nobody can know very much. One out of seven Egyptians cannot read. Half of them live on less than $2 a day. What do they think? What do they want? And it may be an equally urgent question to know: who leads, guides and controls what they think and want?

Thanks to modern technology, we know a lot about the events of Tahrir Square and Mubarak’s downfall. But there’s a deeper facet to the story that Frum’s touching on.

The immediacy of the uprising is over and Western journalists won’t hang around Egypt forever. Jerusalem’s still a more hospitable Mideast base camp for the press corps, and correspondents who were pulled from other beats will return to their bureaus.

Will anyone take the time to do some long-term investigating that can answer Frum’s important questions?


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