Friday, October 19, 2007

The Way Things Used to Be

The Big Pharaoh describes the nostalgia for King Farouk which has unaccountbly been sweeping Egypt lately.

There is a King Farouk mania going on these days in Egypt. Everyone is starting to talk about this monarch who was deposed over 50 years ago. Everyone is praising the series that turned out to be the most successful even though it was not aired on Egyptian TV (the authorities refused) but on the Saudi funded satellite entertainment channel MBC. Even my dad, to whom TV means sports and news, stays at home every night waiting for the King Faroul series. My dad was only 9 when the King make his final trip from Alexandria to Italy. ...

The most amazing thing about this group is that nearly all of the members are young Egyptians. Most of them were not even born when Sadat was around! What’s happening? I have two conclusions.

First, thanks to the splendid series, many Egyptians are starting to realize that tremendous injustice was in fact levied on the former monarch. Many are even starting to feel quilty that they have once believed the anti-Farouk tarnishing propaganda disseminated by the coup’s officers.

Second, there is kind of a yearning to Egypt “good ol’ days” when we were definitely a much better nation. People, especially the educated and those who are not tainted by a certain political philosophy, are starting to realise that despite the problems that existed during Farouk’s time, the country took a massive downward spiral after his departure; economically, politically, and socially.

I wonder how much of the nostalgia for Farouk is fueled by disillusionment with the legacy of Nasser, Sadat and perhaps, Mubarak.


Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

After he was deposed, Farouk said it was part of a world-wide trend and predicted: "In fifty years there will only be five kings left in the world -- four in the deck of cards, plus the King of England."

10/19/2007 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Of all the countries in the Middle East, I think the one I get the worst sinking feeling about is Egypt. Even more so than Saudi Arabia, Syria or Iran, I think very very bad things are going to happen in Egypt on a scale that will make Nazi ovens and Salem witchhunts look pikerly.

And I'm not quite sure why. Maybe because they've fallen SO far and SO fast, and must be enraged by that, but have no one except themselves (other than a few left-over Coptic Christians) to take it out on.

We're already seeing spontaneous riots - crazed crowds running the streets like they chase the bulls in Pamplona, except the Egyptians have nothing to chase except each other.

Their only money-making industry is tourism, and I wonder what the statistics look like for that these days. I have to believe those numbers are down and sinking daily as tourists from the West choose to take their francs and rubles and pfennigs and euro's to some other destination which isn't so grubby and desperate and likely to become explosive.

So that you have penury adding onto that humiliation factor of being world-class failures we've come to know and love so much from Muslims.

10/19/2007 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

If you go back to the post The Wisdom of Crowds, it quotes an April 2007 poll by the University of Maryland on attitudes in several Islamic countries. Egypt is nearly three times more hostile to US troops in Iraq than Pakistan; and eight times less disapproving of attacks on US troops. If the numbers I quote on the post are correct, the US is far more popular (in the polls at least) in Iraq than in Egypt.

It may be the case that America less popular in countries that are considered its allies (like Egypt and Saudi Arabia) than among the population in countries supposedly hostile (Iraq, Iran). This is one reason why I am not entirely convinced that diplomacy -- which often consists of ignoring the evil that autocratic rulers do -- is more "realistic" or more "adult" than the idea of bringing freedom to the Middle East. We ought never forget that Osama Bin Laden's Fatwa on America was directed at Bill Clinton and William Perry and driven by the American defense and presence in Saudi Arabia. "Realistic" diplomacy may in fact be one of the drivers of Islamic fundamentalism.

10/19/2007 07:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mitch H. said...

There's a hell of a lot of Copts in Egypt - I've seen estimates of between 6% and 20% of the population. That's enough to make a truly horrifying pogrom if things get out of hand. I *think* there are more Copts than there were Jews in the Pale, proportionally speaking.

10/20/2007 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

It's my understanding that they've been killing off the Copts in two's and three's for several years now. With no one looking for the murderers, so it's sort of a state-sponsored shooting gallery for bored Egyptian youth. They got nothing else to do for the weekend and can only afford a couple of bullets? Fine - go on a hunting expedition and shoot a couple of Copt's.

I may be wrong, but I have seen stories about abuse and killing of Copt's ongoing over a fairly long period of time, and no stories at all about perp's being brought to justice, or the Egyptian government even issuing a boo-hoo statement.

10/20/2007 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

We support Egypt's government to the tune of $2 bill a year in foreign aid and the Egyptian government repays us with some of the most virulently anti-American propaganda in the world in its state controlled media. No wonder the people hate us.

Maybe we should set up an Egyptian Media Review Board and fine them, say, $100,000 for each article deemed Anti-American.

Capitalism is all about incentivising proper behavior.

10/20/2007 08:54:00 PM  

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