Thursday, May 08, 2003

Where is Raed ? Getting referred to this site was the thing that first got me interested in blogging. If Salam could post his thoughts directly from Iraq, then "normal" people could actually find out what was going on there in real time, so to speak. I've tried to talk about the differences in what is portrayed about the Middle East by the media and what is really happening to the email lists that I belong to. Most of them are not political and more aimed at veterinary or equine subjects, so it's sort of a transit from the topic line. With a blog you can say whatever you like and whoever happens across your blog can read it. Sort of like a cybernetic note in a bottle. My dad would have loved it. Raed is definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

I've been without a phone for a week and trucking my laptop to friends' houses to download essential mail, so I haven't been writing here at all. Got the phone company and the guys who installed my new digital line for ISDN together finally and now have a phone. About time.

I had a question from Raymond in Quebec about the status of women in Egypt and whether we are Sunni or Shiite. Egypt is mostly Sunni, although there are likely some Shiites living here as well. One of the things that many people don't realise is the number of people who move about in the Arab world. They think that only Egyptians live in Egypt, but in fact we have a huge variety of nationalities living here, people from all over the world living, working and studying in Egypt. People who come here from Iran or parts of Iraq or even other Arab countries are possibly Shiite.

As for the status of women, in many ways women have a better status in Egypt than they have had in North America. You find a higher proportion of women studying medicine, engineering and law in Egypt than in North America. Women in the middle and upper classes have the same access to jobs, education, and so on that one would expect from anywhere. The poor here are in many ways poorer than people expect in North America and have to live without things such as running water, and as such none of them, either male or female have a very easy life. There are so many aspects to Egyptian life and culture that it is hard to generalise. You can go out to restaurants and be among people who would not seem out of place in any city, and, in fact, they would fit in well as most of them speak at least two languages. The farmers in the countryside seem truly foreign to non-Egyptians as well as to many Egyptians. Having lived in both North America and Egypt for many years, I would find it hard to generalise about how much power women have. An older woman in Egypt has a higher status than an older woman in North America, because the cult of youth hasn't yet taken over. For my money, I'd rather be an old lady here than in Los Angeles or even Toronto.