February 3, 2011

On "Departure Friday" : An Open Letter

It has been suggested that I have not said enough about my personal opinion about what is going on in Egypt, particularly as pertains not so much to my background as a professional Egyptologist, but as the spiritual head of the Kemetic Orthodox Faith.

While I consider myself strictly a religious leader, and do not concern myself with the politics of Egypt or any country as a rule, the position that I hold sacerdotally once also belonged to the men and women who ruled the country now ruled by Hosni Mubarak. There are those who, embarrassingly enough, would refer to me as a "pharaoh," and others have referred to President Mubarak with the same term. (Semantically that is correct but direct comparison of either of us to, say, Ramses II is more than a bit absurd in my case and only vaguely accurate on Mr. Mubarak's).

It is probably completely ridiculous of me to write this. He will never see it, and even if somehow he did, he probably wouldn't care. But I will write it anyway, because it needs to be said, whether from one "pharaoh" to another, or one human being to another.

An Open Letter to Hosni Mubarak, Current President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

Salaam, Mr. President, or as your ancestors would say it, em hotep: in peace.

There have been many discussions in the media worldwide and on the streets of the country you have had the honor to lead for the past three decades about today being "Departure Friday." While you are no more obligated to listen to me than you are to anyone else who is giving you advice, and I am certain there are people who know you and have better advice for you than I do, I must repeat what is being said. It's time. Please go.

Back in ancient times, if an Egyptian monarch made it to Year 30, there was a special celebration called a Heb Sed, the "festival of the tail," where that king was blessed and consecrated and renewed for another three decades of rule. At the beginning of that ceremony he or she was tested for fitness and had to prove his or her worth to be renewed. Nobody got to be king without passing that test, and one assumes that in addition to the ritual and to the ceremonial "running of the boundaries" held in a semi-public place, the king thought about the past and contemplated the future.

I don't think it's any coincidence that the same word in ancient Egyptian that is used to name a king "your Majesty" also means "slave" or "servant." Additionally it can be interpreted as meaning "person of character." Real kings, real rulers, know that they rule only at the will of their people, and their entire lives are structured to make sure that they are serving those people - as their servant not their overlord. They do what is necessary to serve the people because it is only with the people that they will continue to exist. They rule only as long as it is appropriate to do so, in Ma'at which is truth, Ma'at which is so holy it is also considered a form of God.

If you love your country, and I would like to believe that you do, listen to her. Stop sending forces to quiet her voice and still her limbs. You may believe you have been wronged and perhaps that will come out in the future. You have taken steps to make changes and appointed a new government and opened the table for negotiations. These are all good things. I urge you to add to them now by using today as Departure Day. Go and let them make their decisions. Show that you love your country enough by letting it make its decisions and by removing the obstacles to its repression. Show your fitness to rule by recognizing the will and the heart and the passion and the capability of your countrymen. Be Egypt's servant and not her master. It has never mattered more and by doing so you have an opportunity to show your worth to your people in a concrete way that cannot be misinterpreted.

Thirty years has passed. Whether or not you will be acclaimed by your God and your people lies in what you choose to do in the next few days and hours. With all sincerity and prayerfully I ask that you do the right thing and allow for a peaceful transition of power. Recall your police force and signal that you do love Egypt more than you love your position. Be a pharaoh that people want to remember, and not one who will forever be equated with repression and fear.

May Ma'at be with you today, and may Allah grant you wisdom in this time.

Rev. Tamara L. Siuda
Nisut of the Kemetic Orthodox Faith

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