Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Treating Others Like I would Treat Myself

The only problem with Mona Eltahawy is that she is not published often enough – we are many who would like to hear more from her. Today’s column is about Egyptians discriminating Egyptians. Turn the question around: why are foreigners treated better? An airport official informs her it is because they know how to complain – a right Egyptians typically perceive they do not have. But there are more points that ought to be made. For one, it’s not just part of the culture to suck up to power, but also to money. Coming down to issues of service, cash is king and it does not matter if your passport is Egyptian, U.S., Arab or French. But the most positive aspect that some of the people Mona is quoting are hinting at is this: courtesy. Courtesy is part of the culture too and since it doesn’t make sense to give visiting guests the same rough ride as we give ourselves when we know it stinks, we ought to treat them better. I find that attitude very sophisticated – civilized is a stigmatized term so it is better avoided. Mona is concluding that democracy is not only a vote, it is about when ordinary men and women are treated with respect in the Arab world. To this I would like to add that it is a two-way road. Some changes can only come from the top; other changes have to start from the grass-root level of the ordinary men and women. Currently, I see some movements from top to down, but very little the other way around.

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