Saturday, December 22, 2007

Who Am I?

An Arab, or an Egyptian?. Yes the endless debate that you probably had more than a thousand times with your friends, specially if you were like me, someone who call himself an Egyptian and does not consider yourself an Arab. I said that once to a taxi driver and i can't forget the look on his face, the man looked at me as if i had just killed a child, with friends the debate usually goes for hours without a result, usually i end up being called ''sheyoo3i'' which means communist in literal translation but just someone who opposes everything in native slang.

The irony is that we as ''Egyptians'' tend to call most people from the surrounding middle eastern countries and specially the gulf states as ''Arabs'' to distinguish ourselves. Now riddle me this, if i am an Arab and i want to talk about people from the gulf, why would i say the ''Arabs'' did this and the ''Arabs'' did that. And why in arguments or debates we always use the term ''Arabs'' in reference to the actual Arabs. The answer is simple, we are not Arabs, never were, never will be. Now people who want to be Arabs so bad need to have a reality check or open a history book or something because it's ridiculous really, specially when it comes from educated people.

First of all most Egyptians and a lot of Arabs associate being a Muslim with being an Arab and it's wrong, there are plenty of Islamic countries in the world today who does not call themselves Arabs, most notably Iran who happens to be a middle-eastern Muslim country but their people did not give up on their history or identity. Beside Arab does not mean Muslim and vise versa, there are Christian-Arabs and there are None-Arab Muslims. So the term ''Arab'' has nothing to do with your religion as a person or ours as a country.

Now i know what you all must be thinking,it's the language man!, Iran and other none Arab countries do not speak Arabic, and thats why they are not Arabs. Well hmmm, then the language defines your identity?. The answer is no or else we would be referring to every individual on God's green earth whose first language is English or French simply as English or French, LOLZ.

So there is no such thing as Australian or American, their first language is English and guess what, they are mostly Christians as well!!! therefor they are not Australians, they are English!. Same applies to Scotland, Wales, USA, Antigua And Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Gambia, Ghana and the list goes on and on. All these people according to the language = identity logic are English. Which mean that the world is mainly divided between three people English, French and of course the Arabs. As Egyptians throughout our long long history we spoke so many languages, and if our identity is defined by the language we speak then god forbid if we were to be invaded tomorrow by the Chinese and started adopting their language, then we will become Chinese.

If it's not about the language or the religion, then what is it about?. Well it's all about the culture and history, because the culture and history of a nation is what makes it to be. We have a very different culture than the Arab culture, we have a longer and much more complicated history than that of the Arabs. Without transforming this post to a history lesson, reading through a history book or just a quick read about true Arabs habits and customs will tell you that we both Egyptians and Arabs descend from a very different background culturally and historically. We settled down by the Nile about 7000 years ago, and started a ''Civilization'', a ''Kingdom'' that became an ''Empire'' and inspired the world. During all these ages and a until a relatively modern age most of Arabia was a desert inhabited by nomad and Bedouin travelers who has a completely different cultural background than that of the Egyptians. Even to this modern day, the true Arabs who live in Arabia are still attached to their ''Tribal'' culture and customs.

I am not trying to say someone is better than another, and i am not trying to compare cultures because every culture was valuable to mankind as a whole. But all that i am saying is that, we are Egyptians, not Arabs and will never be Arabs. The Americans will never be English and vise versa, well by now if you haven't had got the point then i give up.


embee said...

I think most Egyptians would still somehow think of themselves as pseudo Arabs. The remaining trails of "Amgad ya 3arab Amgad". However many people would still feel somehow superior to the rest of the Arab world. I think the predominant religion being Islam around the area would keep up us tied to the rest of the Arab world.

To make it short, there's a bit Arab, a considerable portion of Egyptian, and a whole lot of other bits, albeit small, yet worth mentioning, of all the cultures that settled in Egypt.

Anonymous said...

While those "Arabs" are making money, building the tallest skyscrapers on planet earth, making worldwide business, keeping up with the current world status and improving international technology, we "Egyptians" sit in our homes wondering if we're Egyptians or Arabs. How disgraceful it is to be an Arab, and how honorable it is to be an Egyptian. Right now, I wished I was anything else but an Egyptian.

That Guy said...

You state your case well...but I really think it doesn't matter much.

It's all just labels.

Anonymous said...

I am an Egyptian, I would not be called anything other than an Egyptian. My ancestors where not arabs, but Egyptians.

Gulsun said...

Omar, that's a great point of view, but politically and historically we are an Arab country, the Arabs settled down in Egypt, and it became an Arab country, we're in the Arab peninsula! You refuse to consider yourself an Arab, it's up to you :)
Layla Omar El Farouk