Our literary buff Anam Sufi has broken away from the bookshelf for a minute - to berate CairoScene on its intolerance. And she just might be right. Read on as she explains the hypocrisy rife in so-called 'liberal' circles...
I’m not here to discuss the politics of the day, and I am certainly not here to play mother in terms of determining a victim and a perpetrator. I’m here to voice an opinion on something that has been gnawing away at me for a while now; the defamation of what it means to be a liberal.
January 25th 2011 undoubtedly stirred the fires of revolution and political discourse amongst the Egyptian masses. Conversations of Gucci loafers and Grey Goose were replaced with human rights and civil disobedience. But while all that is surely commendable, there emerged an ironic collection of people who unwittingly (who knows?) marred the essence of what constitutes a liberal mind.
A liberal is one who acknowledges and strives to actualise the unimpeded rights of all men, regardless of race, religion, sex, or status. The root foundation of liberalism stems from equality, a notion that might even be viewed in a romantic light, due to the fact that its scope is unfettered by the bias of any single individual.
Unfortunately, in affiliating liberalism with the West, many people confused equality with western culture. No where does it suggest that short skirts and alcohol consumption is a prerequisite for adopting the title of being a liberal. And the farce of it being otherwise is something that I feel an alarmingly large number of the Egyptian youth is guilty of disseminating.
The first time the horror of this reality revealed its self to me, I was sitting with a group of my colleagues at AUC. As usual, politics was the popular subject being addressed. But as the debate ricocheted from person to person, at once it landed on the issue of the headscarf. A voice from the periphery posed the question, “What would you do if one day your wife decided to adopt the hegab?” Expecting a response along the lines of “to each his own”, you can imagine my disgust when one of the members in conversation boastfully retorted, “I would pull that extremist device from her head before she could walk out of the house!”
I couldn’t help but wonder what warped sense of liberal ideology these people, people who I can fully vouch for as being good people, followed. On the one hand they were facing tear gas and chanting mantras of peace and equality, and on the other, they were so near sighted as to not realise the flip side of the coin. If they can be allowed to wear what they want, why can’t they be accepting of the want of others who willingly adopt the hegab? You might be thinking that it’s unfair of me to form a generic argument based on the doings of a small group of students in but one of the universities in Egypt. But unfortunately, such hypocrisy was not a contained virus.
If you want to castigate the Muslim Brotherhood and their “Islamist-Extremism” based on political shortcomings, be my guest. But when it came to the open vituperative statements that were made about ex-president Mohammad Morsi’s wife’s dress-sense… I have no reservation in saying: shame on you. I remember seeing the memes circulate Facebook, and the numerous comments that went along the lines of, “Have you f*cking seen what she looks like? There is no way I am recognising that woman as the wife of a President”… and all of these, being shared by none other then the self-proclaimed “liberals” amongst us. I recall Susan Mubarak’s fashionista sense of appearance – but I also recall her name being stripped from one of the halls at AUC, an attempt to remove her influence from history. So I suppose the moral of that story can be summarised in the question: how is the dress sense relevant? Quite frankly, it’s an aesthetic prejudice.
And now onto the article that triggered me to finally lock my opinion in words…
CairoScene posted an article about the “Peace Mobile”, an Islamic smartphone that comes pre-loaded with Dr. Zakir Naik’s books and videos on Islam and comparative religion, wallpapers, apps, and ringtones. No offense to the writer, but I found it ridiculously insulting. A prime example of the kind of hypocrisy I have been talking about, the article attempted to write a jocular pre-review of sorts, but only managed to solidify my opinion that liberalism is being poisoned by intolerance. If every Tom, Dick, and Harry is allowed to capitalise on the advent of connectivity and propaganda to further their ideologies and motives, why should Islam be targeted for doing the same thing?
Even now when the Muslim Brotherhood has arguably been debased and removed from power, the echoes of hypocritical rhetoric continue to challenge the booming calls of the muezzin.
A word of advice to the hypocritical liberal: Stop it. In demanding that your country be rectified in the cultural image of the West, you are compromising your history entirely. I myself am an advocate for equality, and I try to abide by the life-style of “to each his own”. But I implore you to respect the fact that everyone is entitled to their own set of beliefs, and respecting that is what makes you a liberal. Acting otherwise makes you no different then the “evil Islamist” that you so ardently repudiate.