The widespread disappointment with the Arab Spring, now renamed by some ‘Arab Winter,’ prompted many satirists, critics, graphic artists and even-handed historians to produce comparative materials contrasting things as they were in Ayyam Al Khair (the good old days) before this so-called Arab Spring with things as they are now, under the rule or influence of the Islamist parties that usurped the uprising of the enlightened people, mostly

young, liberal, feminists and/or leftists. One observer noted that during Ayyam Al Khair, people used to perform their prayers in the privacy of their homes and then go out for a drink with their friends in public. Nowadays, they go out to the mosque and perform their prayers in public and then return home and drink their arak in private.

That is how things have turned out under the governments of the Islamists, probably the only real change they could bring about in the lives of the ordinary people.

I remember that when I was a student at the Law College, we used to give the front seats to our female colleagues. Now, you see them always huddled together with their hijabs around their heads, or the black niqab on their faces, right in the back rows.

During Ayyam Al Khair, students at girls schools used to form a line to cheer and clap for any girl coming to school after casting off her hijab. Nowadays, they perform the same ceremony for anyone joining them in wearing the hijab.

When a child fell ill, his mother used to take him to the doctor. Nowadays, she takes him to the mullah.

In Iraq, one dinar was worth three dollars: nowadays the dollar is worth some 1,200 Iraqi dinars.

When I was a student in London in the good old days, I remember how I used to sit with other Arab students in the SOAS (School of African & Oriental Studies) lecture halls and dream of returning home to re-build the old country and enjoy life with my own people. These days, whenever I visit an Arab country I find the people

dreaming of the day when they can leave the homeland and go anywhere else in the world. Always I hear: ‘Mister, can you please help me to get a visa to England? Italy? Anywhere?’

During Ayyam Al Khair, people were afraid of any police official they saw passing by. After the ‘Arab Spring’ the police became afraid of any passer-by.

Whenever you hear of the death of a dear friend in those good old days you would say, ‘May God rest his soul in peace.’ Nowadays, you would more likely say,’God was merciful!’ During those same days, we would chant: ‘Our souls, our blood and our life, we give for you Palestine.’ Nowadays, whenever the name of Palestine is mentioned, you hear someone murmuring: ‘Oh! Not again.’

Students used to chant , ‘God save our Leader!’ Nowadays you hear them in their mass demonstrations shouting: Irhal! (depart).

Khalid Kishtainy

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