Sunday, 14 March 2010


Revisiting his own position of Ahmad Zuwail: the one time Angry Arab decided to praise, he aimed wrong...

  • Sunday, 14 March 2010
  • Fouad GM
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  • In his post today, Asa'ad Abu Khalil (known more commonly by his blogging alias "Angry Arab") revisited his positions on Ahmad Zuwail. The man's first attempt at praising seems to have proven itself wrong, but his courage led him to blog even about that. The post marked Angry Arab's reconsideration of Ahmad Zuwail and of the blogger-academic-commentator's praise of the Egyptian Nobel Prize winner and international scientist in the past.

    Angry Arab quotes a critic of his former position on Ahmad Zuwail: "sorry to disappoint you but the one time you decided to praise you aimed wrong." Angry Arab is known for his pessimism and often-sarcastic way of addressing the unfortunate state of affairs in the Middle East.

    What I find most interesting in this revision however is the message I hope it sends out to other Egyptians and Arabs eager to see reform and a better life for citizens throughout the Arab World. Angry Arab's posting indicated that commentators, civic activists and social movements ought to step back and understand the people and events before eagerly adopting them as messianic saviours.

    The over-excitement of the Egyptian and Arab audience upon the arrival of a vocal opponent is perhaps a reaction to the otherwise-deafening silence of political apathy and limited (if any) political participation. With the spaces of social protest and freedom of expression decreasing in many Arab cities, the inbound flight carrying a notable personality with international prestige is looked upon with hope - hope that they might bring with them change. What Angry Arab did in the past was to fall for this simplistic understanding. His commentary today indicated that he took a step back before jumping to hopeful conclusions.

    Question is: how does that apply to El-Baradei? Is El-Baradei any different? Or is he another popular illusion flying into Cairo with international prestige and wishful thinking? Is he any less naive than his colleague, friend and counterpart Zuwail?

    By extension, the ever-growing social movement in Egypt is witnessing more and more influence from the Egyptian diaspora. Is Egypt witnessing a social movement of international and transnational academics, intellectuals and internationally-renowned figures whose international prestige and transnational lives allow them the space and freedom to associate, express and organise - a space that is increasingly shrinking in Egypt?

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