Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Things Aren't The Same Anymore

When you hear “EGYPT” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For most people its pyramids, King Tut, Ramses II, the Nile and mummies. For an Egyptian like myself that kind of association can get annoying sometimes, how many times can you explain to people you don’t live in a pyramid or worship cats, but regardless of that its still a culture to be proud of.

Being Egyptian has always had certain implications, its an amazing conversation starter. As long as I can remember, telling someone I am Egyptian has earned responses like , "oh wow really?" and "have you ever seen the Pyramids" It still does but increasingly more it has earned a different response….We’ll get to that in a bit.

On the morning of 9/11 I woke up to the T.V. and watched as the Twin Towers fell. Like most people I had absolutely no idea what was going on, so I didn’t think twice when I put on my Egypt flag T-Shirt with the words “Beladi, Beladi” (My country, My country) written on it and left for class. On my way to class I saw an acquaintance from one of my classes, he ran up to me, grabbed me by the shoulders and while shaking me screamed “What’s going on, what did you do?” What could I say, I still had no idea what was going on. As the day progressed it became more obvious what happened and who was to blame, a Palestinian girl I knew made a point to tell a large group of people, “America deserved what they got!” Mind you I am still wearing an Egypt flag T-Shirt.

Side note – a couple days later after some Arabs had been attacked and killed around the country this girl got scared and tried to take back her words, denying that she said anything. I wasn’t having it and I decided to punish her for her hateful and ignorant words, so I pointed her out in a huge crowd and announced to everyone what she said while pointing at her. She cried and blubbered like a baby but who cares she deserved it. The next day she had an American flag sticker on her rear windshield, what a surprise.

Anyways. That day (9/11) changed everything. That same week my Aunts friend who is Egyptian was shot and killed at the counter of the convenient store he worked at. The world had gone nuts and all I could do is sit back and hope not to get harassed. I never did just a few jokes but nothing serious.

While I still get pyramid questions I sometimes get sarcastic comments like, “Is your uncle Osama Bin Laden?” and “do you have a bomb under your shirt?”. Still though I never quite realized how much things had changed until today. I went to my math class (original post) and decided to campaign to the other students before the teacher arrived. The homework was murder and apparently everyone else agreed. So I convinced everyone to join me in asking the teacher to postpone the test, plus I love messing with this guy, hes so unintentionally funny that I cant resist (you have to read the original post to get an idea). As soon as he walked in I put the heat on.

Me: “Hey Senior [name removed], you got to postpone the test till Thursday. My ‘cabeza’ (Spanish for head) still hurts from section 3-2.”

Butler:” No, aye canna no do eet”

Me: “Come on Senior [name removed], your killing me here, if you don’t postpone the test everyone is going to fail and then you’ll get fired and then your wife will divorce you, think about the ninos

Butler: “No, I canna no be motivated by terrorism”

Me: “O.K. No problema senior”

I know what your thinking, first of all, “You did not say that to him!” and second “that’s nuts he called you a terrorist” Well first, yes I did say that to him, he plays along, me and him are cool like that. Two, at this point he doesn’t know I am Egyptian. But after I say “no problema senior” he looks at me really curious and says

Butler: “Where is jou fron”

I don’t know if he thought I was Hispanic or what but I tell him I am Egyptian and he says.

Butler: “Oh Egypt!? O.K.”

About 20 mins later while he is writing the equation to time travel or the dimensions of the solar system or something, he leans over in the middle of lecture and says to me,

Butler: “jou no take offend weet terrorist comment, O.K.?”

That’s what really surprised me and let me explain why. When I told him I was Egyptian he back tracked in his mind to the terrorist comment he made before he knew I was Egyptian and drew a connection between the two. Six years ago terrorism didn’t come to peoples minds when they heard “Egypt” even after the first world trade center bombing in 1993 which was directed by the Egyptian Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. With obscure terror alerts on the news every night I think this will get worse before it gets better, maybe the damage is already done. I don’t think I will ever take offense to those comments because I always understand them as just jokes but I would rather listen to ignorant questions about King Tut then ones about Osama Bin Laden.

P.S. My campaign was a success, not only did he postpone the test but decided to give us a take home version. Score! I’m awesome !


At 10:50 PM, Blogger Leilouta said...

"As long as I can remember, telling someone I am Egyptian has earned responses like , "oh wow really?" and "have you ever seen the Pyramids"

Telling someone I am from Africa has earned responses like ,"oh how come you're not black?!!" :)

At 11:15 PM, Blogger D.B. Shobrawy said...

Haha, yea I get that too, a matter of fact I get, "you cant be Egyptian, your not black!"

At 5:27 PM, Blogger KNL said...

When I tell people I'm Algerian they say "what the fuck is that?"


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