The Corner

Ignorant Americans and Democracy-Less Arabs

Egyptian movie star Omar Sharif on Al-Hayat TV, via MEMRI:

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.

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