Saturday, September 24, 2005

I Think They are Going to Like You

I cannot believe how we are getting popular on the Washington Post pages when David Ignatius is complaining about the unpopularity of the US or the Bush Administration in Egypt. I feel I am so lucky that many writers are taking the situation in Egypt and US-Egypt relationship so seriously.

But in fact, I do not think that the US is unpopular, it is extremely popular that if a traffic light in Egypt stops working, many would lay the blame on the US. As when any earthquake happens in Egypt, they believe that the US is supporting Israel to do the nuclear tests that would shake our Egypt. The earthquake is tailored in a very special way that does not shake Israel. And they do not ask why the US is not capable of stopping any California earthquakes? The answer is pretty simple; it is the earth not the US that takes the liberty in moving in some areas. There are hundreds if not thousands of situations when the US has to stand as the sole reason behind anything. If a woman cannot get pregnant it is because the US gave Israel a spray (could be a pesticide or even a perfume) to export to Egypt to prevent women from conceiving. Yes, it gets funnier by the minute.

But this does not mean that Egyptians do not like the US but actually they are obsessed by the US. It was so funny to see all those Egyptians that literally talk about the American elections more than about our referendums. They talk about President Bush more than about President Mubarak. The only thing they do not do is that they do not go to the polling stations with the Americans. They wait for the results as if it were their elections. I once was about to have a fight with one of my friends, I asked her why are so passionate about the American election where you do not enjoy the same passion for Egypt’s 99% referendums. I told her whoever comes to office in the US whether we like or dislike him, he is chosen by the majority of Americans. THEY CHOOSE. I told her look at us we DO NOT CHOOSE.

Ignatius said in his article “Indifference is not an American trait. Part of our Benjamin Franklin heritage of industry and self-improvement is that we want to be admired, applauded -- and, yes, loved.” And I would add something else that should make us believe in the US whic also intrigues me if does not leave me stunned is that the US is among very few countries if not the only one that succeeded in bringing hundreds of nationals from all over the world where everyone feels home. Arabs are very nationalistic people, hence they fail to see other peoples’ best. The US brought the best from all over the world to live under one flag.

The reason of the “unpopularity” of the US is that many Egyptians believe that their oppressors and US are one. The continuous US support to dictators in the Middle East created this strange vicious circle; dictators want the US to believe that they are indispensable, because if they relinquish power, terrorism and Islamists will be the alternative which is a good reason why terrorism should remain that’s why they are doing their best to flare up more terrorism.

Domestically, they making their people believe that the US is providing a bloody alternative and definitely not a true democracy, as many Egyptian national newspapers report on a daily basis with this message: look at what kind of democracy the US wants, thousands are being killed in the streets of Iraq. At the same time dictators are fooling the US, making the US believe that they are doing it great deal in stabilizing oppressed terrorist peoples in the Middle East as I am seeing that all international press reporting only on Islamists in Egypt disregarding a majority of a non-Islamist category and I do not mean Egyptian Copts here. Egypt is not Islamists only. David Ignatius mentioned an Islamist and this Hisham Kassem who has many question marks on his background. Is this Egypt?

Many Egyptians would not have been able to get out of their homes for demonstrations without the Bush Administration pressure in a country ruled by emergency law since 1981, where there are many reports on missing citizens that never returned home. But there were some irritating statements like the one by the US First Lady, Mrs Laura Bush, during her visit to Egypt last May describing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's plan for presidential elections as "bold and wise". What kind of message is the US sending to the Egyptian people? We love your dictator. He is doing a great job. The result is that the hatred of the Egyptian people to Mubarak is automatically transferred to the US. Many Egyptian Liberals found these statements extremely frustrating. And of course let’s not forget the Islamists who are taking their enemy model to be “Israel”. They see Mubarak as the US agent who takes orders to secure Israel’s existence…bla bla. Actually, Mubarak is not a US agent but an enemy because he does not promote the values of the US or on which the US was founded that’s freedom and democracy. He is igniting Islamist movements in Egypt by giving them an open forum every Friday, known as Friday prayers if you do not know, to say nothing to the people, on the contrary degrading their mental abilities. Egypt which is not Iran has more mosques than those in Iran. There are many countries that has many political parties that have the words Christian or Jewish…etc but they are not used to destroy a society or used as a threatening tool or used to instate inequality between the different forces of the society. Islamizing Egypt and claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood is “Banned” is a bedtime children’s story. Banning them and then giving them every free corner in a building to erect a mosque free of taxes with free utility expenses while we (citizens) pay for them to survive to stifle our freedom, is that what we call supporting or banning?

The US fails to talk or listen to the Egyptians that truly believe in freedom and democracy. They either talk to the regime or the agents of the regime who claim to be advocates of democracy. I really do not understand how come US Secretary of State Dr. Rice allowed herself to be introduced at the American University in Cairo before her famous speech by an editor-in-chief for a regime paper that names itself “Democracy” that has nothing to do with rights or freedom of the people. It is such pretentious superficial paper. Any simple-minded Egyptian knows very well that this woman who introduced Dr. Rice is a regime agent and has nothing to do with democracy. Again what kind of message is the US sending? We are talking about democracy and freedom through dictators’ agents. The result will be no credibility I am afraid.

David Ignatius said in his article: “Another leading democracy activist, Hisham Kassem, said he warned the secretary of state when she was in Egypt not to expect any bouquets.”I told Rice your administration is the most unpopular ever in the Arab world and will remain so until Bush leaves office." I have a question. What is this Hisham Kassem doing while advocating democracy? Is he promoting Turkmenbashi-like democracy? He is sending that same messages of the dictator regime that are said hundreds of times on every pro-regime paper. Why does not he draw an example to appreciate the freedom and democracy by grouping some people and appear on TV offering Dr. Rice flowers instead of warning? I m sorry I find his comment/warning a bit funny. These are the people, the US deals with and gives grants. They do not believe in the US. They believe they can change the US administration before changing themselves. Then good luck.

More on the US-Egyptian relationship from my blog: "Remembering 9/11"


At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 3:03 PM, Blogger Memz said...

i dont know if u r talking about the same Egypt that i know of. Although i am not a fan of Mubarak, i think you are being to harsh on him.

There are some very good points in your article but several flawless not so accurate arguments. Specially the comparison of the US to a melting pot that unites people behind one flag. I think youu meant to say Canada.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger programmer craig said...

There are 600,000 Iranians in Los Angeles, Assem.

How many you have in Toronto?

The *official* number of illegal immigrants from Mexico is 10 million, with another half million arriving each year. Maybe they haven't heard about Canada!

The US has more 1st generation immigrants than the entire population of Canada.

Hispanics in Canada = .8 % of the population
Hispanics in the US = 12.5 % of the population

Blacks in Canada = 2.6 % of the population
Blacks in the US = 12.3 % of the population

Want more?

There are more moslems living in Los Angeles than there are in Canada, did you know that? By a factor of 3!

Really, Assem, you should not try to take "the American Dream" away from America. It's what we are famous for.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Papa Ray said...

Thanks for letting us share your thoughts and feelings. They are important, never, ever forget that.

The best lesson I will be able to pass on to my grandchildren, one that I have already passed to my children,

is to always go after the truth, to push and fight for the truth to be told and to be heard. Even if you have to fight for it.

My wish is for peace and for everyone to have a chance to better themselves and to raise their children without fear.

Sadly it will be generations (if ever) before that will come to pass.

But the task is to keep pushing to make things better, to make life more fair, and to help others when you can.

My two grandsons who are now 17, plan on enlisting in the U.S. Marines on their 18th birthday. That scares me, just like it did my Mother and Father when I enlisted in the U.S. Army at the same age in 1967.

I did my duty, trying to bring freedom of choice and freedom from fear to the people of S. Viet Nam.

As you are aware, the American people turned against the war and we left the people to escape on their own. Those that didn't were killed, tortured and imprisioned.

Many escaped, most came to the U.S. but some scattered to the four corners of the world.

I hope that we don't leave the Iraqi people before they can assure their own freedom from fear and freedom to a better life.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Jordon and other M.E. countries all will have different outcomes in their search and fight for peace until they understand the basic premise of the U. S. Constitiution .

"All Men Are Created Equal"

If you haven't read our consitution, you should.

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 11:53 PM, Blogger Gateway Pundit said...

That was fantastic! Thanks.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Mike_Nargizian said...

What Assem meant is that Canada is a great place for Islamists and Hezballah to raise money and teach fanaticism openly.

Hey Assem don't be envious of life in America... it only makes your eyes green.

Great post I saved it in my permanent file and emailed it out to several people. Keep up the good work... the mountain of lies opposing us is huge.. but thank g-d there are people like you Sandmonkey, Iraq the Model and Big Pharaoh out there... it gives me hope that sanity and truth can at some point win out.

G-d speed.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Mike_Nargizian said...

Let me also add that I've met and become friends over the past 2 summers with kids my own age from all over Europe, Turkey and other places... and the more I talk with people from all over Haiti, Dominican Republic, etc... the more you realize that there is NO place in the world like America where different people from all over can meld into a country and respect each other's rights etc.... where your kids are instantly Americans and in the culture...
In Hungary they still see the Gypsies as not true Hungarians... the Russians see Jews that have lived there for hundreds of years as not real Russians etc....
Its only in America where all this doesn't matter bcs Americanism is about the American culture which anyone can become apart of...
The moron leftists sceaming what a 'racist society' America is with the backing of the America haters out there repping often dictatorships, truly racist societies are so clueless.... and the more you know the more you realize that America is the BEST EXCEPTION to the way the world has worked for the past 2 thousand years.

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Programmer Craig:

Wow... I didn't realize that Blacks are immigrants to the US... not.. ahem people brought in as slaves centuries before :).

Get your figures right.

Foreign-born Canadians in 2001, was as a percentage of total population, almost double that of the US.

At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1)."He is igniting Islamist movements in Egypt.."

"Islamists" are every now & then rounded up, jailed, tortured, many times in greater nos than, or just as much as, nonIslamist dissidents.

Yes, there r times when the govt has worked to coopt "Islamists" but the opposite has more often occurred.The govt regulates who gets on the pulpit offering Friday prayers, and they've done a pretty effective job at restraining Al Azhar, so that it is largely not free from crtiquing govt policies or offering independent counseling.

This is not to say that Islamists have not adopted some unreasonable views about where to lay the blame, or some impractical ways on how to do social/political engagement, or that they resort to simplified slogans.

Finally, yes there r many "Islamists" that r rigid, and espousing mentalities that--for a lack of a better word--are unproductive or counterproductive. But this does not exclude the possiblity that there religiously/spiritually-devoted and socially/politically-active Muslims in Egypt that are openminded.

(2)---"seeing that all international press reporting only on Islamists in Egypt"

most of the coverage (@ least in the US) about pro-reform democracy activity in Egypt has been more about non-Islamists than Islamists. Almost always, the only time when "Islamists" get mainstream coverage is in negative light, often with terms like "radical" or loaded terms like "fundamentalist/m" attached to them {yes some people caught are extreme, but why gneralize all of these people into a pre-determined profile?).In addition, much more attention is given to the plight/condition of non Islamists dissidents (as in the case of Sadideen Ibrahim or Ayman Nour) than the scores of Islamists jailed (which only intl human rights groups are more likely to pick up on, not mainstream media).

Defnitely, where repression on expression exists by actions of anyone, it must be covered.

(3). I think "anti-Americanism" has more 2 do with policies and actions than American culture. I think that for most of the Arab-Muslim world, the democratic atmosphere (which exists for the most part, excepts in case such as many implimentations of the Patriot Act in curbing civil rights, Arab/Muslim profiling, descrimination in the workplace, etc) that exists domestically and many of the foreign policies pursued in the Middle East provides a difficulty/dilemma in understanding "Americana." This 'discrepancy' can add to causing tension in the relationship btwn Arab/Muslim World and the US

At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While America has done a much better job than other many other places, and has more successfully integrated its minorities than say Europe--claiming an American Exceptionalism on our tolerance towards different groups still obscures some realities.

(1).Intiallly, Blacks were not formally recognized as citizens but as slaves and property that can be used for purposes of gaining representation for their owners--the Three-Fifths Compromise where blacks were counted as 3/5 a white man.

(2). Some Blacks during the Slavery period were free. And you did have Abolition movement, where many (mostly white north-easterners)worked to end slavery for moral or political reasons. Yet, most blacks were slaves and not counted as citizens until the Civil War Amendments (13th, 14th, 15th) which finally bestowed citizenship upon them. After that, during the Reconstruction, a number of blacks were elected to office, etc., but much of that was undone/reversed by the Jim Crow and KKK era. This continued until Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act. During the Civil Rights Movement--which propelled momentum for the Acts--there were state-approved tactics aimed 2 defeat the momentum such as the use of dogs and spraying jetstreams of water on peaceful marchers; and the socially-approved behavior like what happened in the woolworth sitin in, I believe, Greensboro, NC.

(3). American cinema & televisoin has a history of portraying Arabs and Muslims as the "other" with a very particularlized dehumanizing effect, often as the misogynistic womanizing rich "oily sheik" or the radical missile launching terrorist, or the stupid Arab/Iranian-looking character who mumbles unintelligible phrases, and other like portrayals.This is documented in Professor Jack Shaheen's "Reel Bad Arabs" study and the "Arab amd Muslim Steretyping in American Popular Culture," among other analyses.

Yes, portrayals are getting better, but-with few exceptions-thsee are not as near as balanced or accurate to assist Arabs and Muslims in becoming accepted as ordinary everyday Americans. Despite more Americans r learning about Arab culture and Islam, in addition to the above portrayals of domestic residents, there r still also problems of stereotyping of Arabs and Muslims overseas, as well.

Added to these problems is the one created by people like Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson who frequently go on witch-hunts targeting Arabs and Muslims in the US (Pipes, for eg, created a website called CampusWatch--which is known for publishing dossiers on professors, inlud non-Arabs, non-Muslims, deemed to b "anti-Israel" or too "sympathetic" to Palestinians, pipes also posted an article once on his website about Muslim student organizations on campus functioning as fronts for extremists/terrorists; Emerson is famous for making claims that American Muslims/Arabs are running 'sleeper cells').These people have a lesser following, but they are often tied to powerful lobbying groups, and their potential to fanning flames, I fear, is great in sensitive times.

There r periods when policies suggesting intolerance towards Arabs and Muslims have been enacted. Secret Evidence Act--in which the govt can prosecute and deport illegal immigrants without showing evidence it has--is alleged to have been selectively used disproportionately on Arab and Muslim aliens. The 1000s of Arabs/Muslims that were rounded up without info on their whereabouts in the couples of years after 9/11. The allegations of harassment/abuse faced by these (A Dept Of Justice Inspector General's Report found a clear lack of guidelines on how to treat these detainees, as well has faulted detention centers for their treatment of them.) Many since then have been released, but a number still remain, despite most of these have not been found to have any connection to terror. Of the many cases the government has prosecuted, only a few were found to have wrongdoing--and these were mostly visa violations.

(5) Other policies/behavior have been enacted in difficult times that nevertheless suggested intolerance towards groups of differences--the Japanese internment camps of WWII, McCarthyism of the 1950s, or the China/ese Exclusion Act in the 19th century to solve the issue of many Far East Asian immigrants coming to take jobs like working on the railroads (which the govt initially actively supported). The problem may not be in the act itself, but in the environment of slurs, profiling, etc. that existed.

As Americans, we have a lot to offer to the world, but let us not be arrogant; generally speaking, our best traits/times of potential for helping others come in our ability to re-examine our own history, to listen to others with an active ear, and develop a more balanced and comprehensive outlook towards ourselves and towards others.


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