Views of the Occident

Yunan Rizk has an interesting article about how Egyptians’ views of outsiders have changed over time.

In short, Egyptians developed sharply conflicting attitudes towards European culture and towards the individuals who shaped that culture, who were either portrayed as wholly “good” or wholly “bad”. Naturally, this ambivalence was reflected in the Egyptian press and an interesting case study can be found in the biographies of world figures that Al-Ahram would occasionally feature on its “Literature, Science and the Arts” page or in other columns. Not surprisingly, most of the “good” consisted of individuals who contributed to the progress and welfare of mankind as a whole. These included philosophers, scientists and even the occasional politician. The “bad” on the other hand consisted almost exclusively of politicians.

Rizk’s work is based essentially on a survey of articles published in Al-Ahram starting in 1934, and it’s rather interesting to see how (little) things have changed.