24 - 30 June 1999
Issue No. 435
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Profile Features Interview Travel Sports Time Out Chronicles People Cartoons Letters
Sir- I would like to thank Fayza Hassan for introducing Egyptian Armenians to the public (Al-Ahram Weekly, 20-26 May). The article would have been a very enlightening one except for some unintentional information errors.
First, I do not think that Armenians in Egypt fall under the category of "foreign communities" since unlike other communities, for example, French, British, Russian, American, etc., we are born in Egypt and bear its nationality. We are of Armenian origin, yes, we have our schools, churches, clubs, we do strive to keep our culture, but at the same time, and as you mentioned several times in your article, we do identify with Egyptian culture.
As for the Arabic-language monthly magazine Arev, it is published by the Armenian National Fund, not the Cairo Armenian General Benevolent Union -- AGBU for short (notice the correct name: not the General Armenian Cairo Benevolent Union as you mentioned). The AGBU is an international benevolent organisation with chapters all over the world, and it was founded here in Egypt by Boghos Nubar in 1906.
Finally, regarding the clubs, there are four cultural clubs in Cairo and two in Alexandria -- not one as Ms Nora Koloyan mentioned, three sporting clubs in Cairo and two in Alexandria, and three benevolent organisations. Thank you again.
United by the scarf
Sir- I enjoyed the report by Gareth Jenkins (Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 May), but I should clarify one point to avoid possible misunderstanding about the recent election results in Turkey.
Chief of Staff Hakki Karadayi seems to have been proven right in his prediction that the ban of the Welfare Party (WP) would divide the Islamist movement, as Mr Jenkins indicated. But, although votes were divided in the elections, the voters of the Virtue Party (VP) and the National Movement Party (NMP) think alike, especially where the headscarf is concerned.
The decrease in votes for the VP is not due to the ban. The reason is the soft policy of the former WP while in the government with the True Path Party (TPP). The voters punished WP (and consequently VP) for its inefficiency in solving the headscarf problem in schools and official institutions. Many former WP voters voted for the NMP, which promised to solve that problem, in the belief that it would not behave timidly. If the NMP does not do anything to solve the problem, former WP votes will go back to the VP, which will also attract many votes from other parties in an early election. The fact that the VP won over 23 per cent in the local elections although it had won only 15.4 per cent in the general elections the same day supports this argument. It is up to the NMP to maintain its position, but the view that the VP will regain strength has spread since the Merve Kavakci incident.
The people will possibly force the VP and the NMP to cooperate since the headscarf is very important for over 70 per cent of the Turkish population, and 86 per cent of the people think it should not be banned anywhere.
Move the museum
Sir- As one who has more than a passing interest in the Islamic Museum at Bab Al-Khalq, having used it for more than 30 years, I feel the present building housing the Museum is of little architectural or historical importance. In its present state, it is totally inadequate. It could not be in a worse site; and regardless of the new Al-Azhar tunnel, the traffic problem around the Museum will still persist. No amount of revamping can correct its deficiencies. Move the whole place to the Citadel -- there could not be a better or more central site.
As for the argument concerning the Museum's Islamic garden, as gardens go it is of little consequence. A much better and larger garden can easily be created.
Left in its present site the Museum can never be more than what it has long been -- dust-blown and down-at-heel. It should be a sparkling jewel in the crown of Egyptian museums, capable of displaying all of its most precious Islamic collections to Egypt and to the world.
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