Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ramy Ashour and the Egyptian Revolution

 The other day on Alan Thatcher’s blog (here) we saw a picture of Ramy Ashour out celebrating during the protests that are currently sweeping Egypt. There is a lot to say about these protests, but what I would like to start out with is simply a plea to Ramy, “Get outta da streets!”

Ramy, the best squash player on the planet, does not need to go out and get himself killed in what could be a bloody mess. I sympathize with his feelings, and I know it would be hard not to join in on the demonstrations for what must seem like a fight for independence akin to our 1776, but there is another argument, that Ramy is the leader of the sport and is an Egyptian recognized around the world. Could he do his country more of a favor by being an exemplar of the sport, perhaps even playing it in the Olympics in 2020, or should he be one of millions taking to the streets and clamoring for change? Could he use his celebrity status to articulate the wishes of freedom-loving Egyptians, perhaps even to rally like-minded Egyptians to the cause? It’s a tough call, of course, but I say Ramy, and indeed all the many top Egyptian squash players, should sit tight. Use their influence behind the scenes, definitely, but sit tight and represent the New Egypt when the time is right. 

The latest tumult in Egypt puts American sensitivities in a quandary. After all, the government of President Mohammed Morsi was elected in a democratic election that was judged to be fair by outside observers. If many Egyptians don’t happen to like what Morsi is doing, then in a democratic country they would be expected to organize, demonstrate peaceably, and throw the bums out in the next election. I was not a fan of George W. Bush, and when, amazingly, he was elected again, I was beside myself, but being a good democrat I just stayed back, licked my wounds, and planned for the next election. Likewise, those Republicans who consider Obama to be a socialist Kenyan from hell and the worst president ever are doing the same, but in reverse. That’s the American way….

So the American impulse is to root for the demonstrators, who want to expel the Islamists who now rule, but to do that they are really rooting for a military takeover of a democratically elected government. It’s a disconnect. What should happen is Morsi and his crew should listen to the demonstrators and make changes to their governance, but they are hard-liners convinced they have all the answers, and so the positions are locked in, and the military awaits. There will be blood.

Ramy! Let none of that blood be yours….


  1. My feelings exactly. Makes me sick when I see Amr Shabana posting pictures and preaching politics. Stick to your squash racquet, don't mix sports with politics...

  2. I feel exactly the opposite. He is an Egyptian first and an Egyptian Squash Player second. No one wants him hurt or anyone hurt. But if he feels this dedicated to the cause then he needs to do what he believes in his own mind is the proper place for him in the cause.

    When Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Chase, James Madison and the rest left their farms and buisnesses (and any hope of making a profit that year) to go to Philadelphia in 1776- they went not because they were farmers or bankers or printers- they went as Americans. And I am glad they did.

    I will agree with you however that Ramy and the others should not take any reckless action but they need to be where their heart takes them.

  3. I think the decision is Ramy's to make. Years from now, what he will look back on is not necessarily how many World Open titles he won, but where was he, and what did he do, when issues of human dignity and moderation in society were being decided.

  4. Just to reiterate a few points from my blog, I am definitely not suggesting Ramy sit out the revolution.... I think he is a public figure in Egypt, so making his opinions known publicly would add real value to those seeking greater liberty. I feel he could be of far greater influence by wielding his public clout rather than be one of millions wielding an angry sword.... And although I have focused on Ramy, I feel the same way about the many other squash stars -- like Shabana, Darwish -- who call Egypt home.

    Meanwhile, the situation in Egypt remains tense, and I'm sure it will remain so for quite some time.


Sorry, but due to increasing spam, I've added the Word Verification step. My policy on comments is anything goes, as long as it is about squash and as long as it isn't unnecessarily nasty....