Tag Archives: fundamentalism

Old Egypt Dies-Replaced By Religious Bigots

Forty years ago, men and women congregated in bars in downtown Cairo to drink, laugh, discuss books and enjoy a world in which people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds interacted in peace. It was a world chronicled by the famous Egyptian writer, Naguib Mahfouz, but today only a handful of bars are still around due to the growing religious bigotry that has come to characterize modern Egypt. A former police officer reflects about the Egypt of his younger days. That “Egypt was very liberal, very tolerant. You had the bars, you had the synagogues you had the churches, you had the mosques. everyone was absolutely allowed to practice religion, to go and drink or whatever.”

Many critics believe change occurred when millions of Egyptians returned from working in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia and brought back the strict fundamentalism that characterizes the Saudi nation. The growth of suburbs has also robbed downtown Cairo of more liberal minded people who now cluster in cafes on the outer rim of the capital. The question facing Egypt is whether it will turn toward the anti-alcoholism, religious intolerance of fundamentalism or become a member of 21st century life.

Fight For Women’s Rights In Rural Turkey

Rural Turkey continues being the main supporter for those in Turkey who wish to restrain the rights of women. Teachers in southeast Turkey encountered dozens of women who were hiding their daughters in sheds to hid them from teachers seeking to foster the idea of education for women. There is a split among the parents of women in this region, some accept the forces of modernity including the rights of women to an education while others fight against this prospect. Mujhan Sahin, a female teacher from the region commented: “There is a prejudice against women in the region. They should not read, go out or stand on their feet.” She noted this attitude was conveyed to her parents who defied tradition and educated their children. As a result of Ms. Sahin’s efforts, over 20 girls were allowed to attend school.

Ironically, Kurds in Turkey remain the most conservative elements of the population even as many within their ranks fight for the right to belong to the nation of Kurdistan.