the occidental orientalist

arabist.
orientalist.
in the west.

what the District's think tank crowd is reading about the MENA

This is your own damn fault, election boycotters

Hostess: Would you like to say something to the ladies and gentlemen watching Egyptian TV?
Tantawi: Like what you’ve seen, ma’am: we’ve observed maximum restraints and now the Square is perfectly clean!

Hostess: Would you like to say something to the ladies and gentlemen watching Egyptian TV?

Tantawi: Like what you’ve seen, ma’am: we’ve observed maximum restraints and now the Square is perfectly clean!

This is so good, I’m reprinting it here in full

Why Western media columnists need to watch the f*ck out. From KabobFest:

A part of me has always been enamored with the romanticism of Orientalist literature and art. Despite the clear problems that exist[ed] within this genre of discourse and one-way intercultural engagement (racism, cultural imperialism etc), the beauty that accompanied the images- painted or written – cannot be brushed away with a simple declaration of its abyad burdenesque inflection  à la Kipling. Overly-sexualized small-breasted, big-hipped women and emasculated yet sexual barbarous men aside, Orientalist art and literature’s precision in each and every detail, however culturally erroneous and factually incorrect, helped create images that have remained embedded within our collective minds and memories. From the texture of the sheer headscarf of the naked-breasted, plump Algerian woman in the middle of a back alley in somewhere Algiers to the crisp grey engulfed in a sea of fading black beard i of an uninterested man sitting on silk cushions watching his harem girls dance – details provide context, questionable truth and depth into the artist’s mind.

Thus, you can just imagine how absolutely excited I was when someone tweeted a recently published article from the Huffington Post entitled Nothing is “Post” in Post-Revolutionary Egypt by O’Brien Browne (yes, I believe that appears to be two last names of which one acts as a first).

The article is nothing short of pure, unadulterated pseudo-intellectual Orientalist pervy-wanker trite with undertones of an attempt at making a point. Somehow. Somewhere.

The fact I read this article, voluntarily, is insulting.

So, let me save you the effort and take you through a nice run-down of the piece, dissecting some of the brilliantly articulated details offered by Mr. Browne about his excursion into the land of the brown-skinned, long-bearded, cut-eye-giving Salafists and their sexy women.

Disclaimer: Not Obrien Browne.

1. Post-revolutionary Egypt is a fascinating place to visit, as I have just done, because there isn’t anything “post” about the place at all. Or maybe there is. No, perhaps not. All that is certain is that Cairo, the capital with 18 million inhabitants, is a surreal city of opposites.

This easily translates to “I don’t know what the shit I’m talking about or what the point of this piece is. Here, pretty words and a number to make it seem as though I know what I’m saying. And I’ll throw in an obvious observation.” For God’s sake, the man is having an argument with himself about what he means by “post” revolutionary Egypt -allegedly the subject of his long-winded excuse for an essay. First there isn’t anything ‘post.’ But then, oooh, maybe there is! Aw, damn, no. No there isn’t. Wait. you know what – Cairo has 18 million people! I know that FOR SURE! Good god, man – will you stop with the suspense?! Make up your mind.

2. Gleaming shopping centers such as City Stars in the hip district of Nasr City, showcase designer fashions and teem with happy shoppers, Islamists prominently among them, their veiled women fondling silk underwear and feeding pizza and Diet Coke to their children.

Veiled women fondle. They don’t touch. They don’t graze. They don’t feel. They fondle. And are these women fondling underwear (silk, because Browne can feel with his eyes) whilst feeding their kids Western heathenish food? Or was Browne watching these women long enough to see them buy underwear, go to a nearby restaurant and feed their children?

On a more serious note – what sexually repressed feelings is his projecting onto his piece by using a word like “fondle”? No one ever thinks of this word with a non-sexual connotation. I couldn’t get away with it in my Master’s thesis and he shouldn’t be able to get away with it in this piece.

Additionally, Browne has a sharp eye for picking out the Islamists in the bustling Cairean crowds. They’re the men with the beards and own veiled women (as indicated by Browne’s use of “their veiled women”). Yeah. Those guys.

3. “The secularists are provoking us,” declares one Islamist, intent on stamping out any sign of democracy.

Browne can also read people’s intentions. And from the sounds of it – this Islamist is gonna do it on his own! WHY DIDN’T YOU STOP HIM, BROWNE?!

4. Nevertheless, restaurants are packed with diners feasting on delicacies like marinated sparrows — eaten bones and all — or Indian food, washed down with Sakara, a delicious Egyptian beer.

OMG! They EAT bones! AND INDIAN FOOD! …AND DRINK BEER! My mind is blown.

5. Ziad, an old friend, joins us. A gentle father of three, he chats about soccer and the automobile business — he is a sales manager for Ford Egypt. Then, smiling shyly, Ziad says, “Look at this,” as he unbuttons his shirt and pulls out a black 9mm pistol, popping the loaded clip out of the grip. “Just for security,” he winks.

And then Omar busts in and pops his ass with a sawed off shot-gun.

6. Ziad knows what he’s talking about: at the height of the revolution Mubarak’s forces released perhaps 10,000 prison inmates onto the streets to show the havoc that would ensue should Mubarak leave. The ploy did not work but Cairo, once one of the safest metropolises in the world, is experiencing an explosion of murders, rapes and robberies.

And Browne knows this because he’s witnessed or sensed them all.

7. We share a drink from the vodka and whisky I had bought at the airport under the frowning gazes of bearded Muslim Brothers, members of the best organized political force in Egypt, and who would win about 20% of the vote in an election.

Because the Ikhwan have nothing better to do than watch some random white dude at the airport buy alcohol in a country where it’s legal and tourism is one of the leading industries.

8. Actually, they ignored me because they were being watched by ultra-puritan Salafists, easily identifiable by their bushy, untrimmed beards and clean-shaven upper lips, their veiled wives in tow..

Okay, what? So, were they or were they not looking at you? Or by “ignored me” do you mean they decided they weren’t going to Zabihah your head? And why do you sound so disappointed by that? And ultra-puritan Salafists? So the ‘crazy brown men’ were being watched by the ‘crazier brown men’?

But wait, here’s perhaps the best line in the entire piece, as the above excerpt continues:

9. …followed by their pious daughters whose hair was carefully covered to please daddy but whose curvaceous bodies were wrapped so tightly in traditional garb as to leave nothing to the imagination.

Apparently women run around like this in the streets of Cairo.

This speaks for itself. The usage of ‘daddy’ just adds that little something special and extra to make an already pervy observation ..just a little more pedophilic in feel. Or should I say ‘fondle’?

10. Suddenly, our car screeched to a halt as a wizened old man sitting atop a flatbed wagon pulled by a skinny mule slowly rolled past, one of the millions of Egyptians who still subsist on about two dollars a day. I wondered if he was aware that a revolution has taken place.

Maybe it has. But then again, maybe it hasn’t.

Wait, what?

Egypt's Jon Stewart on Tahrir

  • TALAT ZAKARIYA: You must have heard what's happening in Tahrir Square.
  • BASSEM YOUSSEF : No! What? What?
  • T: Drums and horns and dancing...girls...and boys...and drugs...and full sexual relations.
  • Y (on the phone to someone): Didn't I tell you we need to go to Tahrir Square? Dude, they're saying there's music and women and sex, and we're sitting here? ... Sorry, sorry.
  • Y: Mr. Talaat, is there a video that proves what you're saying? [Belly-dancing video]
  • Y: Sorry, clearly we got the video mixed up. We'll fix it. Mr. Talaat, sorry, go ahead, tell us what else is happening in Tahrir Square?
  • T: What happening right in Tahrir Square is a carnival. [Carnival clip]
  • T: There's a band..there's a one act play..all of it against the president..there are snacks and drinks and sodas and tea.
  • Y: I've finally learned what's happening in Midan Tahrir. Out of solidarity with the eminent Mr. Talat Zakariya, I'm going to show you the proof.
  • T: Drums and horns..[Crowds singing the national anthem]
  • Y: So ill-bred. People singing in Midan Tahrir.
  • T: Full sexual relations...[Protesters fighting police]
  • Y: You're right. It was an orgy...Anything else to add, Mr. Talat?
  • T: And who knows how many Muslim Brothers, and God knows what else, there...
  • Y: What, with the music and the girls and the drugs and the sex? What kind of Muslim Brothers, dude?
  • Mr. Talaat, concentrate for a moment--are you sure of what you're saying?
  • T: And I take full responsibility.
  • Y: So when we write the history of the revolution... There was music and dance, girls and boys, drugs and sex, and Muslim Brothers. They had a carnival, they ate snacks and this lead to the fall of the regime.
  • Y: Mr. Talaat, is there anything else you'd like to add-- anything else bothering you?