An Egyptian living in Europe but her heart stayed back home. Having some random thoughts about the before and after pictures. Ghawayesh means bracelets. In my context it symbolizes the cuffs of my culture. I don't know if I like them or hate them. Thanks for passing by.

About Me

My photo
I started this blog in 2006 as a joke. Now that I look back, I have decided to take it seriously!

18 March 2012

I am Egyptian, I am half Jewish, and I am gay.

Coming Out Story: We're Not in Cairo Anymore

Damn why are all the cute ones gay?!!

Egyptian multihyphenate Omar Sharif Jr., grandson of the screen legend, comes out both as gay and half Jewish — and worries that his country's fledgling government will persecute others like him.
By Omar Sharif Jr.

I write this article in fear. Fear for my country, fear for my family, and fear for myself. My parents will be shocked to read it, surely preferring I stay in the shadows and keep silent, at least for the time being.

But I can't.

Last January, I left Egypt with a heavy heart. I traveled to America, leaving behind my family, friends, and compatriots who were in the midst of embarking on a heroic journey toward self-determination. Despite the sound of gunshots in the streets and the images of Anderson Cooper being struck repeatedly over the head on CNN, I left hopeful that I would return to find a more tolerant and equal society. While I benefited from a life of privilege being Omar Sharif's grandson, it was always coupled with the onerous guilt that such a position might have been founded upon others' sweat and tears.

One year since the start of the revolution, I am not as hopeful.

The troubling results of the recent parliamentary elections dealt secularists a particularly devastating blow. The vision for a freer, more equal Egypt — a vision that many young patriots gave their lives to see realized in Tahrir Square — has been hijacked. The full spectrum of equal and human rights are now wedge issues used by both the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces and the Islamist parties, when they should be regarded as universal truths.

I write this article despite the inherent risks associated because as we stand idle at what we hoped would be the pinnacle of Egyptian modern history, I worry that a fall from the top could be the most devastating. I write, with healthy respect for the dangers that may come, for fear that Egypt's Arab Spring may be moving us backward, not forward.

And so I hesitantly confess: I am Egyptian, I am half Jewish, and I am gay.

That my mother is Jewish is no small disclosure when you are from Egypt, no matter the year. And being openly gay has always meant asking for trouble, but perhaps especially during this time of political and social upheaval. With the victories of several Islamist parties in recent elections, a conversation needs to be had and certain questions need to be raised. I ask myself: Am I welcome in the new Egypt?

Will being Egyptian, half Jewish, and gay forever remain mutually exclusive identities? Are they identities to be hidden?


1 comment:

Raouf said...

يا دى الهوية اللى محيرة الناس

Four different identities is a lot to carry.
According to jewish tradition if the mother is jewish then he is too
Being Egyptian is a legal issue, being muslim or jewish is a religious one and being gay is a fact just like having brown eyes.
Why do we need to make identities of these things? Let alone identities that conflict with each other?
Why do we need any identities in the first place?

People will tell you, "you need to know who you are" and what they really mean is, choose the labels you put on yourself and those that you expect others to put on you.

Labels that define us, labels that limit us, labels that torture us.
How many times have we heard, "we cannot do this because we are Orientals".

Does really carrying a billboard of words make the person who they are?

I have three friends who are also muslim as well as jewish, these are not identities for them just facts of who their parents are.
All three have emigrated and all have come back in one form or another to Egypt.
They prefer to keep the jewish "identity" hidden and not just while they are in Egypt.

Being gay is more serious if you are in Egypt. The only gay close friend I had, essentially committed suicide.
Very talented, very intelligent and from a priviledged family but what a hard life.

And we don't even notice when religion becomes an identity.
Isn't it enough that religion requires something called faith. It now wants to claim you as a whole by being not just an identity but the only identity.

The issues that he brings up are serious and timely.
However a serious person also needs to look at these societal labels more closely and see them for the empty things they are.

Blog Archive

Look Who's Here :D