Sunny Arab Satire Slaps Anti-America Reflex

[New York Sun] Youssef Ibrahim - The brilliant Egyptian playwright Ali Salem described in a cute essay how Arabs are programmed to oppose anything America says or does. Secretary of State Rice ends a fictitious press conference somewhere in the perpetually angry Middle East by sighing that, when all is said and done, "The sun shall again rise in the east." A crisis immediately ensues. A talk show host at an Arab network launches an instant survey inviting viewers to respond to the question, "Does the sun indeed rise in the east as the Americans assert?" Within minutes, the network reports that 89% have responded with an assertive "no," and 5% of the viewers said "yes." In the following days, airwaves from Cairo to Riyadh buzz with weighty analyses of Rice's true intent: American politicians, many note, never speak of the sun nor the moon nor the weather without ulterior motives. In Saudi Arabia, one bearded and disheveled-looking blind sage opines that the American infidels are planning to block the sun from ever again rising from the "Muslim East." With mounting emotion, he calls for jihad against "all American science." In the Egyptian Parliament, one member of President Mubarak's majority National Assembly Party says, "Just because the Americans give us a couple of billion dollars a year does not mean they can tell us where the sun rises." Ali Salem's opposition to Arab dictators, rotten regimes, and faux militancy has long been a hallmark of his humorous plays and film scripts. It has not earned him friends in high places, but to judge from his immense commercial success, it seems he speaks for a silent majority.

2007-09-07 01:00:00

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