Liberals like to claim the protests on Wall Street are just like those that toppled the government in Egypt and Tunisia.
But an Egyptian immigrant says, not so fast.
Andre Rabie, a 40-year-old Queens, NY, artist who came to the United States from Cairo 22 years ago, says there is “no comparison whatsoever.”
“To compare the Occupy Wall Street movement to the Arab spring is silly,” he said in an email.
Although he was not in Cairo during the protests, he said he watched it very closely on Al Jazeera, and followed the coverage in Arabic newspapers.
In a telephone interview, Rabie explained the situation in America is quite different from the Middle East.
“People have it easy here in the US,” he said, noting that many who live in countries like Egypt live on $200 per month and cannot even buy food.
For example, Rabie said his mother, a retired school administrator, lives on a pension of 2000 Egyptian pounds. At an exchange rate of 5.9 pounds to the dollar, that equates to $338 a month.
According to Rabie, some retirees and families live on just $150 a month.
To make matters worse, he says, the cost of many goods in Egypt is the same as in the United States. Imagine paying $10 a pound for meat. Rabie wrote that would be considered a luxury.
“People in the U.S. are not hungry enough,” he said, to enact the kind of change that took place in Egypt.
Americans, he said, also enjoy far more freedom than those who live in Middle Eastern Arabic countries.
“They can change presidents every four years, unlike Arabic countries,” he said. “It’s not a dictatorship, yet.”
Rabie explained he came to the United States to enjoy the freedoms Americans have and to escape what he called “an uptight society.” Although born and raised a Muslim, Rabie said he is now more agnostic.
“It’s hard to be an Arab from a poor country,” he wrote.
As for the protests themselves, Rabie said he did not believe they would “go anywhere.”
The protests that started in New York on Sept 17 have spread nationwide, with smaller protests taking place in Seattle and Spokane, WA and Moscow, ID.
“They will not topple the government, they will not remove the President, and they will not get the same outcome,” Rabie added.
As far as he is concerned, the only way the protester’s demands will be met is if the United States changes from capitalism to socialism.
When asked about “corporate greed,” one of the rallying cries of the protesters, Rabie said it is “far easier to join the elites than it is to fight them,” and added that the group needs to come up with more reasonable demands.
Earlier, the group posted a set of 13 proposed demands, including open borders, a “guaranteed living wage” regardless of income and a $20 per hour minimum wage. Later, another member of Occupy Wall Street asked that protesters stop posting demands, concerned they would be labeled as “extremist nut jobs.”
Rabie, who said he actually donated $5.00 to the protesters, wrote that the only thing the Wall Street protesters have in common with their Arabic counterparts is their “camping style.”
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