14 - 20 October 1999
Issue No. 451
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Books Features Profile Travel Living Sports People Time Out Chronicles Cartoons Letters
Sir- Do the Weekly's correspondents and editorial headline writers inhabit parallel universes? The headline over Abdel-Malik Khalil's excellent report from Moscow (Al-Ahram Weekly, 7-13 October) ("Copy-Cat Strike: The Russian air force, in a des-erate bid to outdo NATO's fearsome air strikes in the Balkans, is pounding the breakaway republic of Chechnya") re-terates Russian claims that are not merely unsupported in the article itself, but are in fact contradicted by it. Perhaps this head-ine was intended for Peter Snowdon's perfervid editorial on the same page? Well before their publication, in any case, both the article and the editorial were overtaken by events. The Russian Federa-ion's invasion and occupation of a large part of Chechnya had already demonstrat-d that the only model from Kosovo that Russian forces in fact make use of must have been provided not by NATO, but by Moscow's little buddy in the Balkans, Mil-sevic's Serbia.
Another and still more obvious model, however, is indicated by the current Russian propaganda phrase "security zone". This buzz-word should instantly recall to many of your readers the only other significant instance of its usage, as a propaganda cliché applied by invaders to their occupation since 1982 of parts of a country that is very much closer to Egypt than the Caucasus.
Leap of faith
Sir- Re Youssef Rakha's review of Cheb Khaled's Cairo concert (Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 September-6 October): Performing for an audience that can't understand what he's singing is nothing new for Khaled. I attended the Paris concert recorded on 1, 2, 3 Soleils, and the spectators around me were mostly non-Arab French teenage girls.
They had no idea what Khaled was sing-ng about most of the time, and they didn't care. They sat happily waving little Algerian flags -- this, in a country that was shooting Algerians wholesale not all that long ago.
It was both strange and heartening: Egyptians, by comparison, must make a much shorter leap to enjoy Khaled.
Sir- I enjoyed reading the obituary of Tahia Carioca by Edward Said (Al-Ahram Weekly, 7-13 October). I felt disappointed, though, by the way the writer emphasised both the personal and circumstantial life of this great artist while giving us all too little information on the amazing career of this dancer and actress. It would have been interesting to have more details of her origin, her training, her association with Badia Masabni, her influence on the genre and the dancers that followed her and so forth. Also a description of her distinguished artistic career was missed.
I recently attended a performance by Lucy at the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel. The performance was thrilling and beautiful. This dancer balances the artistic qualities of her work with entertainment, never bordering on the vulgar. This I find to be rare among belly dancers before the public in Cairo these days. At this performance, the great dancer Nagwa Fouad, renowned for her work over many years, was present in the audience. At the request of Lucy, and to the delight of the audience, Nagwa Fouad got up and danced! This was a breathtaking performance by one of Egypt's truly great dancers and artists.
Lucy's admiration for Nagwa, which was clearly reciprocated, gave us a wonderful chance to witness the leading artists of this genre sharing their love of this art form. I believe we were witnessing the handing down of the mantle of artistic integrity from one generation to the deserving of the next. This seemed entirely appropriate in the days that followed the death of Tahia Carioca. I, for one, am deeply grateful for these superb dancers who enrich our lives immeasurably. They uplift us and give us renewed pleasure and faith in living and sharing our Egyptian heritage.
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