25 Nov. - 1 Dec. 1999
Issue No. 457
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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Sir- I would like to thank Ms Fayza Hassan for her brilliant special "Once more into the breach" (Al-Ahram Weekly, 18-24 November). She has done a great job producing it. Really, every time she writes she writes with erudition. Please, I implore her not to ever stop writing.
Akef Adib Qusous
Sir- Omayma Abdel-Latif does little to hide her bias when she identifies me as "a Copt, identified as a human rights activist" ("Framing Islam," Al-Ahram Weekly, 28 October - 3 November). Nor is it any coincidence that I am the only named activist in her attack, while the two other Muslim women that she referred to remain anonymous. Ms Abdel-Latif is intent on tarring the entire women's rights movement as foreign and Western, and I am the best tool for the job. Tsk, tsk, Ms Abdel-Latif, for playing that old game of innuendo and unsupported allegations. In fact, as she well knows, neither the article she is referring to nor my human rights work in Egypt supports her divisive intent. Although there are many examples of her unobjective reporting in that article, I will cite only the instance in which my name was specifically mentioned.
Ms Abdel-Latif sweepingly mentions "extensive quotes from Tadros and two other 'liberal' feminists", and goes on to provide several quotations that imply they had been spoken by me. She then concludes that in effect, what I am saying is that the Islamic revival is "the only reason why Coptic girls are being persecuted, women are seeing their rights eroded, and women who speak out for those rights are constantly under threat." This, I will point out, is her distorted assumption, and not my words or my opinion.
To add insult to injury, Ms Abdel-Latif goes on to say that Western journalists have avoided asking the opinions of "mainstream Muslim women" and asked only "those who are like us", in an outrageous attempt to typically correlate Coptic loyalty with the Christian West. This has been done before, Ms Abdel-Latif, and while it tends to fool some people, it fails to fool those who know anything about Egyptian history.
As one of the very few Copts actually working in the field of human rights in Egypt, I can now say that I am indeed disheartened by the way things are going in my country, as the article in the Telegraph mentioned. The source, however, is not the Islamic revival, as suggested in the article. It is, indeed, the bias I have constantly confronted from reporters like Ms Abdel-Latif, for the mere fact that I am Coptic. While I have constantly identified myself as an Egyptian first and foremost, I have been persistently placed in the unenviable position of having to defend myself for being a Copt. Unfortunately, it is opinions like this writer's that make me think twice about the issue of polarisation in present-day Egyptian society. Perhaps there is a deeper form of mistrust and polarisation that I had previously overlooked?
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