Egyptian fashionista asks Beirutis to think again

Daily News Egypt
6 Min Read

Beirut for New Year’s was my insistent, never tiring “suggestion to my husband since we got married last June. I hadn t been back since the 2006 war and missed walking in the Lebanese capital’s charming streets, chatting with shop vendors as if they were old friends and happily accepting pedestrians expressions of affection for Egyptians and their old black and white movies.

My motives weren’t all culturally charged though. Admittedly, my strong increasingly multiplying partying genes also longed to experience the world’s universal night of partying in the Arab region’s most party-loving country.

The chromosome I inherited from my mother, attracting me to beautiful fashion, also looked forward to quenching its infatuation with unique Lebanese designs.

And last, but certainly not least was my tendency to eat until I can eat no more. I was craving the mouth-watering, scale-tipping traditional mezzeh, experienced at its best only in Lebanon.

And while I managed to satisfy all three of my loudest inner demands during those four unforgettable days, I couldn’t help but notice the unusual silence that my Egyptian dialect prompted throughout the trip. Accustomed to a certain dose of ego-boosting compliments about my nationality from my many visits to Beirut, I felt a little like an attention-seeking child who just had a new baby sibling. Not only did the compliments not come, but my husband, our friends and I were consistently treated with polite coldness, one that we weren’t used to, certainly not in this part of world.

At first, I thought I was being a paranoid attention-seeker, until one honest young man let it all out, while he was styling my hair on New Year’s Eve.

“Why aren’t you opening the Rafah border? he blurted out just seconds after “Hello and “How would you like to style your hair?

I calmly explained the Egyptian point of view without delving too much into discussion whilst adhering to my long time belief that only politicians and specialists should talk politics, only to find the lady in the next compartment joining in the conversation with a simple “if I could give Palestinians my entire home, I would, before stomping away.

On the same day, I found a Facebook invitation from a Lebanese acquaintance to join a Lebanon-based group whose name was encouraging people to imitate Muntazar Al-Zaidi’s notorious shoe throwing act against Bush and do the same to Mubarak and I quote the group, “for what he [Mubarak] is doing to Palestinians in Gaza.

But when a couple of days later I heard that a local supermarket almost refused to sell products to some Egyptian friends followed by repetitive jokes from my Lebanese pals that I should try and hide my dialect when talking to people on the street these days, it was then that I realized that the ongoing demonstrations outside the Egyptian Embassy’s headquarters in Beirut were by no means a minority expressing themselves. They were expressing the attitude of many Lebanese people.

While my personal political views side with those of my government, I do understand and empathize with the ordeal of the people in Gaza. I do see myself resorting to violence and attempting all options to get my loved ones to safety, and I would curse the government that refuses to let my family through their borders for protection and probably use it as a scapegoat for my anger.

But I know for sure that I wouldn’t direct my feelings of hostility towards the people represented by that government. Just as my disagreement with much of US foreign policy has never affected my opinion of the American people whom I consider as one of the warmest and most friendly nationalities I have ever met.

Even though the Egyptian media failed to shed light on the reasons behind the official stance towards opening the Rafah Border, in due time and in a convincing manner, President Hosni Mubarak and Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit have both done a lot of explaining on behalf of Egyptians, therefore I am in no position to defend the government’s decisions any further.

I will, however, remind the people of the Arab country I love the most after my own, the country that hosts some of my closest friends and happiest memories, and the only country I would happily move to should there be reason, that Egypt is neither the culprit nor the enemy here.

Think again.

Share This Article
Leave a comment