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Sunday, June 01, 2008

That'll earn him lots of friends in Hollywood

Egyptian actor Omar Sharif tells Egypt's al-Hayat TV just how little he thinks of the United States, in which he lived for years. Sharif tells the interviewer that Americans don't understand that the Arabs will never become democracies (which may well be true), because they prefer their local Sheikhs. And he depicts Americans as country bumpkins who don't understand anything that goes on outside their own borders....

Following is an excerpt from an interview with , which aired on Al-Hayat TV on May 26, 2008. A transcript follows.

Let's go to the videotape.

Omar Sharif: The American policy is completely wrong. It is a large and rich country, with great possibilities, and everything, but they don't understand what is going on in the rest of the world. They just don't get it. I lived in America for a long time. Only 10% of all Americans have a passport. In other words, 90% never left America. They may have gone to Mexico or Canada, because they don't need a visa or a passport to go there. 90% of them don't know... You show them an unmarked map of Europe, and ask them where France is, and they don't know. Ask them where Italy is... Okay, Italy they know because it looks like a shoe. They don't know anything. They are ignorant.

I said to Bush, even before he entered Iraq: Forget about all that. We, the Arabs... We are not like [regular countries]. We are sects. This is how we have always been. Egypt is the exception, because we Egyptians are a people that... [I said to Bush:] If you enter Iraq – what will you do with the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Kurds? You will drown there. You have Iran and Syria next to you – these are Shiites, and those are Sunnis. What do you know about all these things? You will drown there.

Interviewer: How did he respond?

Omar Sharif: He didn't believe me. I told him that I come from the East and I know... He said: "No, there must be a democracy there." I said to him: We don't have a democracy, and we never will. You'll see, because people like me prefer to go to the neighborhood sheik. I like going to him, and he resolves all the problems. If someone stole from you, or something, you take him to the neighborhood sheik, and you say: This man stole from me. The sheik says to him: Return the money, or never come back to the neighborhood.


At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your post, didn't watch the video. From your comments and the transcript text, I don't think he's terribly far off.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Omar Sharif makes a couple of good points. The Arab World is very different from the West. They all hate each other there and consciousness hasn't advanced beyond the clan and tribal stage in much of the Arab World. So Americans know surprisingly little about the Middle East. And of course as much they are at each other's throats, they hate outsiders like Americans and the Jews in Israel even more. Being so frank about the reality over there isn't going to win Sharif many friends in Hollywood.

At 9:23 PM, Blogger Thud said...

big surprise..Arab takes all the west that can offer and then reverts to type...no great loss.


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