Talk Like an Egyptian

In their haste to alert the American public of the rising tide
of anti-American sentiment in the Arab media and in the Arab world
at large, American journalists may have gone too far. According to
Charles Paul Freund, a senior editor of Reason magazine, a
Washington Post article (August 2004) made widely
inaccurate and even inflammatory claims regarding the popularity
and general public reception of some anti-American Arab pop stars.
Additionally, the article, and the American media in general, have
ignored the bold attempts of some very popular Arab stars to
denounce and criticize anti-Americanism.

The near-foolishly gregarious Shaaban Abdel Rehim of Egypt is
best known for his hit tune, ‘I Hate Israel,’ which was followed by
a song called ‘I Will Quit Smoking!’ Freund contends that while
this former wedding singer may have some followers, he is known
mostly for stunts and antics. Recently, a long list of Egyptian
actresses publicly refused to work with him.

Meanwhile, the Post found Alexandria . . .New
, the most recent feature by Youssef Chahine, Egypt’s most
famous filmmaker, to be a ‘virtual cinematic divorce [between the
two nations],’ and portrayed the filmmaker as lamenting his
newfound alienation from the United States. Freund points out that
Chahine’s hate is hardly ‘newfound’ or ‘on the rise.’ The filmmaker
made his career on a 1978 film called Alexandria . . .Why?
in which the Statue of Liberty figured prominently, as a harlot
welcoming a group of European Hasidic Jews to America’s shores.

Meanwhile, the Post did not interview actress Nabila Obeid, of
the popular and United States-positive serial drama, Aunt Noor. Nor
did Syrian actor and writer Yasser Al-Azmeh, who has written a
popular satire that criticizes anti-American posturing among Arabs,
warrant a call.
Elizabeth Dwoskin

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