Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Ghetto Mentality Both Ways

Reuters published this very interesting report about the rise of the religious conservatism in Egypt by Yasmine Salah. I agree 100% with the first part that "Moderates are unable to enjoy their lives... We're under pressure to join one of the two extremes."

I do not agree fully with the rest of the report , first of all I do not know why the media is overlooking the other exclusive club or uptown ghetto in town with all its radicalism , yes radicalism in showing off, radicalism in imitation and radicalism in disrespecting all our traditions and values.  Already what is mentioned or regarded as extremism in this report is not considered extremism , it is not about head scarf or beaches or restaurants or showing your facing , it is about dangerous fatwas and notorious parties.

Second of all this extremism with all its kinds is not only the result of economic factors or the return of Egyptian expats from the Gulf with alien new values and traditions as much it is more than that , it is about a society that lost its identity in the midst of globalization and can’t restore it easily. People are searching to grab in something and as we have this religious nature , people now go to the extreme. 

Both ghettos are going radical because simply for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is just like the extreme poverty and the extreme wealth , it is a phase I believe we are passing through as a normal result of Egypt’s weakness.

Hopefully sooner the moderates will win over achieving the social equilibrium once again.


  1. The religious fervour that has taken over is scaring moderate Egyptians.
    As indicated correctly in the article '....analysts say the government is not putting much effort into turning the conservative tide because it makes use of religion itself to seek legitimacy' this is a dangerous game the government is playing which could backfire as it did in Iran.
    The government has to undertake a herculean effort to turn this dangerous tide by implementing correct social, economic, educational........etc changes immediately.
    The Canadian.

  2. I disagree with the author on several points. she doesn't seem to have been living in Egypt long enough or simply reciting misconceptions.

    The main issue now is how we tend to label every behaviour or social activity, either that's Islamist or that's Liberalism. I think the vast majority of Egyptians are 'moderate' perhaps they are a silent majority but there is no doubt they are a majority. On meeting people everyday in different aspects of life and from differentbackgrounds, I can say with confidence that 95% of Egyptians are 'moderate',or simply they are regular Egyptians. Wearing a higab does not mean you are not moderate. Enjoying a cold beer once a week doesn't even mean you have went astray from your are still 'moderate'. Not denying that society has been infiltrated by religion extremes-and not just Islamic, but Christian too, but the impact is limited.

    In that article is a funny interview with a buraq lady, who unintentionally confesses that the reason to cover her face is not religious but so people wouldn't judge her- probably other women morethan men. The woman obviously lacks self-confidence which is the reason why many Egyptian women choose the black ninja style. nothing to do with religion.

    The author in herarticle seems to have restricted herself to a certain demographic. The upper-middle class obviously, have the time and luxury to investigate heretic explanations of Salafinism and whether women should shake hands with men. They can afford wearing a black curtain behind the steering wheel of their cars -a very grave risk with self-imposed blind spots on each side.

    This is what happens when you do a half-baked research based on a specific demographic in one city. Cairo is indeed huge with perhaps close to 20 mil pop now but if you're not going to do every class living in that city, your article will be flawed. In poor districts, you don't see black ninjas as often as in up-scale suburbs.. they are too busy with their lives to get involved in the religion perplexes of the middle/upper classes. If you go to the country side(reef),small villages and hamlets, not the main towns(bander), you will rarely if ever see a blackninja woman or a man with knee-high trousers displaying nice hairy legs. Are they less religious than their urban countrymen? in fact they are more religious,more abiding to moderate tradition and religious values.. but they can't afford to get engaged in what is the proper Islamic life-style. They already know and dont need heretic interpretations.The women who helps her husband in farming and milking cows will not cripple herself with a ludicrous robe.

    Farmers may have high illiteracy rate but they are by no means ignorant or easily persuaded.

    Overly or extreme liberism that emerged since the 90's was a reaction to the Gulf-salafism. If you want to really find out if those people have become extreme -in either way- you will just have to observe them in how they conduct themselves at home..where all the masks go down.

    Another misinformation in that article is about the legal system 'being based on Sharia law'.. if that was true, I don't think Islamists will have any beef with the Government. The fact is the Legal system in Egypt is almost entirely based on the Napoleonic code with very small bits here and there based on Sharia, particularly those concerning Family law.

    It's not saying that there is a problem in the Egyptian sI disagree with the author on several points. she doesn't seem to have been living in Egypt long enough or simply reciting misconceptions.

  3. (continued-limit exceeded)

    The biggest problem in Egyptian society which everyone either fails to see or deliberately does not what to see it, has nothing to do with religiousness, dress code or having an alcoholic beverage. The problem is that the people have been slowly over decades becoming materialistic, self-obsessed, non-empathetic and agonistic, A nation that is daily fighting one another. These are what Egyptians have never been and contradicts their true characteristics and that will be our demise.

  4. The behavior of a country's population is reflected by the righteousness of its rulers and government.
    How do you expect people to behave when their rulers and government are thieves,thugs and murderers?
    Obviously some will turn to religion to seek purity, others will give up and turn to vice while the rest will look on and shake their head.

  5. The article says "Egypt's legal system is based on Islamic sharia law". This is incorrect. Egyptian laws are mostly derived from French common law. Just a few articles that are related to inheritance and marriage are based on the so called Sharia Lwa. I believe that only the Taliban and perhaps Saudi Arabia laws are based on these middle ages doctorines.

  6. @Anon: Egyptian Laws are certainly not entirely based on Sharia Law but they do not belong to the Common Law System. Legal reforms during the 1800's resulted in Egyptian Laws influenced but not based wholly on French Laws, this is a common mistake and an inaccurate info circulated by Law professors who did not spend enough time researching the origins of our current system. Egyptian Laws belong to the Civil Law System and not the Common Law System. Unlike most colonies, Egypt was colonised by the Brits but the patriotic Egyptian Legal elite managed to make sure we do not adopt the legal system of our occupiers and the Brits were not so concerned with transplanting their legal system in Egypt at first. Any later attempts to change the system to be more English failed.

  7. On more point to add: the reform movement did not just set aside Sharia rules that is why you can still see articles in some laws influenced by the ruling in Sharia or what has been followed in Shareyia Courts before the Courts system was "modernised". Professer Sanhuri is known for producing a civil code that attempts to take Sharia rules into consideration and not only civil law principles as developed in Continental Europe. More important, Sharia rules get consulted for example in all family matters laws and also lately in the organ transplantation law.
    Even KSA doesnt have a Sharia only system this is another Western myth.
    In all cases, there is nothing wrong with Sharia rules, actually the rule making processes makes it similar to the same way rules are made in a Common Law System. Sharia rules also has some innovative rules that makes life easier to the inhabitants. For example having each person subject to family rules developed by his religion is purely an Islamic principle and practice that has been carried into our times.


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