Sunday, September 14, 2008

It Takes More Than Words to Change Any Society

The editor-in-chief of Cairo's newspaper Nahdet Masr, Mr. Muhammad El-Sheb'h, has written an editorial, yesterday, about the question of freedom and equality in the Egyptian society.

As an introduction to the subject, he indicated that it is easy for the American society to be critical of the lack of freedom in Egypt. He then explains that the same standards cannot be transferred from one society to the other, simply because the Egyptian society functions under a different set of traditions and rules. And that it will take time, increased awareness and vigorous cultural transformation for the Egyptian society to accept these norms of freedom.

He goes on to stress that this should not be an excuse to justify the poor treatment of religious minorities, such as the Baha'is, Quran'ists and agnostics. He also points to the fact that women are not treated equally in Egypt, citing examples of discrimination in employment and promotion, and giving examples of the paucity of women candidates nominated or elected to positions of political leadership, even in so-called liberal organizations and parties.

He also speaks about the inequality resulting from people's religious identity being displayed on ID cards and such other official documents, leading to discrimination in employment and citizenship rights. He then elaborates on the perceived need to ultimately remove religious identity from such documents.

It is indeed refreshing to read this article because it points out that there are leading Egyptians that are not afraid of being publicly honest about their true feelings when addressing issues of freedom and equality. This is a relatively new phenomenon that speaks for the inherent courage and gestalt that is omnipresent in Egypt. Voices like these are Egypt's hope for a bright future.

It must be also said that it takes a lot more than words to change any society. For example, even though discrimination is officially frowned upon in the west, one can find many examples of it that continue to show its ugly face, as can be seen in the words and actions of some of the people living in these so-called liberated and modern societies.


  1. Thank you for this information. I may write something about it on my blog. I have recently written several articles about the Iranian Parliament's consideration of an "apostasy" law.

  2. Thank you Glenn. I looked at your blog and appreciate its content.


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