When trying to bring some order to the messy surge of holiday pictures, I came across the above decoration of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. After a firm walk from Bois de Bologne where we desperately searched for some shade, we finally ended up underneath the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris, providing what we had been looking for. Looking upward I gazed at these decorations reminding me of the shared history of France and Egypt.
Browsing the internet to find the story that connects the Arc de Triomphe to Egypt, I read a story by Samir Rafaat in the Cairo Times of September 4, 1997 about another arc that was built for a French general, called Soliman al-Fransawi, who had forsaken Napoleon's army and joined the Egyptian forces of Viceroy Mohamed Ali to become one of the countries most respected generals at a time of expansion into Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
The same story provides us an account of the remuneration system of the army at the time. "It was customary for Viceroys to reward their generals with two large tracts of land, one in Cairo, the other in a rural area. While the first usually became the recipient's official residence, the second was a source of considerable income. This munificent remunerative system was not without its benefits for the
country at large, for it invariably led to the embellishment and expansion of Cairo as generals built new palaces."
We are living in a time of little consideration of history and absence of clear visions of the future, probably in fear of new ideologies where old ones have not delivered. "People are crushed by the presence" as the Pope said in a recent interview with Italian based magazine La Republica. Religion can easily become yet another exclusionary system as witnessed by the recent attempt of the Moslim Brotherhood to bring religious oversight to the public office. For the time being, the majority of the Egyptian people seem to prefer the military above religious institutions to safeguard the economy, though some would claim the opposite. Hopefully a third way can be figured out that would bring back stability and peace to the Egyptian streets, welfare to Egyptian homes and well-being to the Egyptian people.
My name is Reinier van Hoffen.
Click here for a summary.
Also find the text of a lecture Dr. Achterhuis held at the 2012 Bilderberg conference.