Monday, May 31, 2004
I'd like to ask you whether you were educated in the U.S.? (university)
Yes, I went to the American University in Cairo (AUC) which was established by American missionaries in 1919. Today, AUC is one of the most prestigious universities in the Middle East. However, the vast majority of students and faculty there disagree with my views. So do not make a link between getting an American education and having rather relative pro-America opinions.
I'd also like you to clarify what you mean when you say you wish US aid would go instead to African nations.
American would do itself well if it diverted all its “political aid” to countries that really need it. Egypt is a poor country but our poverty cannot be compared to nations such as Mozambique for example. Also, I don’t think Israel needs to be the highest recipient of US economic aid in the world! I understand that aid is an excellent reward, but I believe helping to ease African poverty is much more important.
I've read stories that say the CIA has an unmarked small jet that they use to collect suspected terrorists from countries around the world to fly them to Egypt. Once the militants are "rendered" to Egypt, they are pretty much never heard from again.
I think this is true. Recently, Human Rights Watch blamed the Swedish government for extraditing a well known terrorist (who wanted to seek political asylum in Sweden) to Egypt. When we got the guy, we sent him to our Abu Ghreib! It appeared that the CIA asked the Swedish government to extradite him to Egypt right after 911. Many terrorists now live freely in Europe under the “human rights” banner.
If the papers are owned by the government, will they tell the truth about what happens in Iraq?
Most Egyptians only read the papers to know sports news! We get the political news from satellite channels. However, those channels will never broadcast something good in Iraq even if God himself became the prime minister. So to hell with Arab opinion, to heaven with Iraqis opinion.
What will the reaction be with the Iranian people change their government?
AHHHH, I wish I can live see this day. It’s a dream. If I had to pay money for Iran to be free, I’ll do that. A moderate secular Iran will help Iraq. Those two will change our world. That’s why it is so important to do Iraq right. As Thomas Friedman once said “buy one get one free”.
Do you or most Egyptians feel that it would be better to have them all (Egyptian artifacts) in Egypt or does it not really matter much to people in general?
We have enough problems of our own right now. I really don’t think Egyptians are giving much attention to this issue. So I can’t answer your question in a correct way.
Do any of your friends want to ask questions to the readers of your blog?
I didn’t think about that. Well, I’ll try to find someone who might be willing to participate in this exchange.
Any festivals you enjoy?
Well, in Egypt we have 3 types of holidays: national (independence, October war, etc), Muslim holidays, and Christian holidays. One particular holiday is called Sham El Nessem. It’s a day when we welcome the spring. Egyptians celebrate it ever since the Pharaohs were around.
Have you visited the new library in Alexandria?
Yes, it’s huge and neat. I still think they should add more books though. I love Alex, it’s a magnificent city.
Any Egyptians we should root for in the Olympics?
I’m not aware of any. The sports field is getting worse everyday. I won’t be surprised if no Egyptian won a single medal.
Is hatred of America running any higher now than it did during previous administrations?
I don’t think so. Some people believe that Bush added gas to the fire of hate, I don’t think so. It was always there. Clinton was hated the same way Bush is today. May be Bush messed up a little bit in Europe, but nothing changed here.
How do Egyptians regard the Palestinian people themselves, apart from the conflict with Israel (to the extent that distinction can be made)?
Many people do not like the Palestinians as people; they just support them because they are Arab and Muslim. Many think that Palestinians would eat your flesh and throw your bones. Some say they are devious and you cannot trust them. I believe this is mere stereotyping. I know many Palestinians whom I love and respect.
What would Egyptians most like to see America do?
Most will tell you that they would like America to:
1) be more harsh on Israel and give the Palestinians a free state
2) Stop being biased to Israel
3) Stop supporting dictators
4) Stop attacking Arab/Muslim countries like Iraq and Syria.
I believe that even if America will do the above, it will still be hated somehow. They will always come up with a reason for this hate. It’s a clash of civilizations, I truly believe in it.
If we're true to our word in Iraq, how much might that bolster our case in the region?
That might do 2 things. First, they will start to search for any future problem in Iraq to claim that the US was not true to its word in Iraq (this is why the Abu Ghreib photos were priceless here, they proved a point). Second, however, if Iraq did in fact become the only Arab country that elects its leaders, Arabs else where will start to think silently and say “ummm, it seems that those bastards were right”. I yearn for the second thing.
Do Egyptians view the Iraqi people differently than they did a year ago?
Let me give you a chronology:
Before April 9, 2003: Iraqis were brave Arab/Muslims who will fight the invading forces
After April 9, 2003: After welcoming the US forces as liberators, Iraqis suddenly turned to traitors. Shias and Kurds were despised because they welcomed the removal of Saddam.
Today: After the end of the honeymoon between the US forces and Iraqis, they once more became brave Arab/Muslims who are fighting the occupation.
The greatest loss during the past year was the end of this honeymoon. Richard Perle put it so eloquently yesterday on ABC when he said “we allowed the liberation to turn to occupation. We treated the GC members as school children”. (I’m looking for the transcript of his interview with ABC, any clues???)