A couple of years ago, I went to Egypt to visit some friends in Cairo.
Sure, it was a personal visit. But it never hurts to pack a tape recorder, does it? After all, it’s small and with the right kind of suitcase.
Once I landed at Cairo International Airport, it was a matter of minutes before I yielded to temptation, pulled out the recorder and let it roll.
Over the next ten days, I emptied the pre-packed batteries and more, as I recorded anywhere I could — in Islamic Cairo, the heart of the ancient city — in Coptic Cairo, the core of the indigenous Christian community — in the silver shops and nooks of the Khan al-Khalili, the fantastic medieval mall — in Luxor at the Temples of Karnak — and on a felucca ride down the Nile.
I want to turn some of these audio snapshots in to future podcasts, to help round out what we’re all hearing and seeing from Egypt these days. I want to include conversations I had with Egyptians I met throughout the trip, too.
But for this podcast, I’m staying on US soil. I wanted to get a broader perspective on the protests in Egypt this week and what they may yield — even after the violence subsides.
So it was a lucky break to find myself in the same room several days ago with prominent thinkers in the world of international affairs, US foreign policy, democracy and religion: Robert Hefner, who directs the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University.
I also spoke to Monica Toft, associate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Finally you’ll hear from Noah Feldman, of Harvard Law School.
It was just what I wanted: big thinkers weighing-in on the big picture.
It’s just one more slice of the complex picture. But I hope it gets you thinking, too.