19 - 25 May 2005 Issue No. 743 Reader's corner
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875
Us before them
Sir-- It is my firm belief, as an American of Egyptian
descent, that the only way for Egypt
to be an active player in the forefront of global politics is for it to create
a real national identity. Egyptians must learn to put their nation before Palestine, Iraq
Only if we start to take ourselves seriously as Egyptians will other nations
take us seriously enough to listen to our concerns and invest in our economy.
The blame-America phenomenon has come to its long-overdue end. The only way to modernise is to truly play an active role in the Euro-
Mediterranean partnership and take advantage of our
various regional trade groups (Agadir Declaration,
COMESA, EU-Egypt Association Agreement).
We must further embrace our common Mediterranean and Middle Eastern identity.
Finally, it is time we get serious about
cooperation with Israel.
We have a global technological superpower with much disposable income at our
doorstep yet all we can think of is war and hatred. Egypt's loss of its Jewish
inhabitants was loss enough to our nation; it's not time we lose such a
potentially valuable neighbour. We must continue the Pharaonic, Graeco-Roman, Coptic, Islamic and colonial legacies that made Egypt
such a global power. We cannot further wait for progress to come to us; we must
go and seek it through closer cultural and economic co- operation with the
West, Israel and our Arab neighbours in the Mashreq and Maghreb.
Sir -- I am sickened and appalled by the unending
desecration of the mummies of our ancient ancestors by the current Egyptian
Antiquities authorities 'Tutankhamun unmasked
' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 12-18 May). What is even worse is to
learn that this desecration is performed for the unimportant purpose of
achieving inconclusive results about the cosmetic appearance of a deceased
Pharaoh, based on interpretive speculation by modern computer technicians.
sincerely ask the concerned official to lay down the body of King Tutankhamun for a minute, and in disguise take a trip to
visit the earliest remains of Egyptian civilisation
in the most beautiful, yet critically endangered tombs of the Old Kingdom in Saqqara. There he will see how
the illiterate guardsman standing at the gate of a tomb, hungry for cigarette
money, will volunteer to show the visiting tourist around the tomb by pointing
his key chain and scratching it across some of the most ancient surviving
remains of human heritage of art and civilisation. He
will also see how large tour groups, unchecked in their numbers, will in one
rush, follow their tour guide into the narrow tombs, brushing and leaning with
their sweat-drenched bodies and back- packs against these walls which are
filled with the masterful carvings and colour
relieves that have survived the ravages of time since the third millennium BC.
These tomb walls are left completely naked and unprotected by any sort of
barrier that will prevent these crimes of negligence which are happening
against them on a daily basis.
is the tragic state of our antiquities, not only in Saqqara but all over the Egyptian map. I
sincerely recommend to the Egyptian tourist officials that unless they take
immediate professional steps to protect our monuments, in 10 years the
dwindling number of tourists visiting Egypt will have nothing here to see
but featureless erased walls, and powdered remains of our ancient kings,
pitifully displayed next to a ridiculous picture of a CT-scan in a glass box.
Such an imminent crime will never be forgiven by future generations of
Egyptians to come.
Sir-- Rasha Sadek's article 'Owning paradise' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 28 April-4 May) was an accurate portrait
of the unequalled beauty and elegance of Sharm
El-Sheikh. I believe that the same is true for many places alongside the entire
Red Sea coast. The atmosphere is that of
luxury and opulence one expects in the featured five-star hotel, and many
others in the same category. Egyptians, myself
included, are proud that tourists from all over the world return to their
countries with wonderful memories of Egypt.
my pride is tainted with bitterness because I know that the
"paradise" is economically out of reach for no less than 99 per cent
of the Egyptians, and I am probably optimistic. I dare say that a one-night
stay at such resorts is way beyond the means of an Egyptian middle class
family, making it literally unthinkable. The streets of Cairo and some other cities have recently
seen angry demonstrations. There may be many reasons behind them, some
justified and some not, but the inescapable fact is that poverty is behind
people's anger. Reform must start by improving the economy and may be someday,
that middle class family can afford to spend a night in Sharm
El-Sheikh or at least have a soft drink in a five-star hotel.
Fikry Boulos Salib