Farouk Hosni, the accidental martyr

Conversations at Thanksgiving dinner last night (mostly Egyptians of various religions) generally went like this: "I would have never thought I'd say this, but we need to help out Farouk Hosni." One suggestion was to circulate a petition along the lines of "Farouk Hosni is a scumbag, but..." Among this extremely liberal crowd, the attack on Hosni is seen as an attack on secular values and the ability to speak your mind out. Among a certain segment of Egyptian society (in this case it was more artists and writers rather than wealthy people) the thoughts that Farouk Hosni expressed in his honey-drizzled comments to al-Masri al-Youm ("women are like delicate flowers that must be admired," etc...) are self-evident. Egypt has gone through a surge of conservatism in the past two decades and many people from this milieu feel almost betrayed by their country. What Hosni said out loud is routinely uttered sotto voce. But I wonder if some frank dialogue might not be more useful than the delicate, elaborate scaffolding of white lies that most people generally hide being when discussing this type of issue.

The turkey was delicious.

(Background on the Farouk Hosni affair here.)
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.