The Abou Hassira Moulid (a moulid is an annual religious festival marking the birthday of a religious person or saint) was cancelled this year due to the current instability in Egypt. Nadia Abou El Magd describes the festival; “The annual mulid [sic] draws thousands of Israelis and other Jews who flock [Demitiouh, Egypt] from all over the world to celebrate the birthday of a Moroccan Jew whom they revere as a holy man…the festival-cum-pilgrimage lasts for a week.” (http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2001/516/eg5.htm)
The cancellation, though basically an appropriate precautionary measure, exhibits the underlying half-century aversion that Egyptians hold towards Jews in Israel and elsewhere.
On another front, Palestinians have always enjoyed preferential treatment. While Mubarak remained passive towards the Israeli atrocities, media; historical and educational books; art, including movies and soap operas; and Egyptians in general always sided with the Palestinians versus the adversary Israelis. This has been a given.
Lately though, the Egyptian media has focused on some baffling information coming out of Gaza. Palestinians have been utilizing the mayhem in Egypt to their advantage. Car theft has been rampant in Egypt since the Revolution. And Egyptians now have realized that hundreds of those stolen cars are appearing in Gaza.
Of course, car lifters have a hand in delivering the cars to the Palestinian border, but the Palestinians are no better. Palestinians, whether they are buyers, smugglers, or officials, are aware that these are stolen Egyptians cars smuggled into Gaza, and yet they don’t see the harm in such actions.
The smuggling of butane cylinders is another case in point. Egypt has seen protests and demonstrations because butane cylinders were in short supply and have risen in price astronomically lately. http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/447187
Children line up in front of a butane gas depot in the hope of refilling their empty cylinders. http://www.arabtimesonline.com/NewsDetails/tabid/96/smid/414/ArticleID/149902/reftab/69/t/Gas-shortage-raises-anger-at-Egypt-govt/Default.aspx
The same butane cylinders have been appearing on the other side of the border and sold there. http://www.globalpost.com/photo/5683425/egypt-gas-garbage-shortage-methane-butane-12-06-11
(A photo of a Palestinian selling butane gas cylinders near a underground tunnel in Gaza) http://www.globalpost.com/photo/5683425/egypt-gas-garbage-shortage-methane-butane-12-06-11
The tunnels dug under the Egyptian border to move such products are in the hundreds. And the Palestinians don’t really care about how these aberrations affect Egypt itself. Not surprisingly though, the same tunnels that smuggle butane cylinders and stolen cars into Gaza smuggle weapons, ideologies, recreational drugs, or whatever into Egypt.
To smuggle stolen goods may seem trivial to some, but the death of Egyptian soldiers shouldn’t be so. In 2008, in two separate incidents, Palestinians killed several Egyptian officers and soldiers in border clashes. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90777/90854/6563654.html http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/12/28/us-palestinians-israel-border-sb-idUSTRE4BR24Y20081228.The interesting matter is that the Egyptians did not react to these events.
But in August 2011, when Israelis killed Egyptians soldiers while pursuing Palestinian militants across the Israeli-Egyptian border, Egyptians stormed the Israeli Embassy. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/18/us-israel-egypt-idUSTRE77H1OO20110818 Egyptians remain silent when the Palestinians harm but become outraged when similar harm is inflicted by the Israelis.
The juxtaposition between the two reactions is an interesting phenomenon. It portrays an entrenched sociopolitical ideology. It tells us that it may be hard to overcome one’s antagonism towards one group; by the same token it is hard to see the errors of one’s friend. Though mortified, Egyptians are passive towards such actions.
Egyptians regard Israel as the region’s bully and believe in the Palestinians’ right to their own state and to a dignified life. That is plus the recollections of many defining Egyptian-Israeli wars. Furthermore, Israel has indeed succeeded in aggravating Egyptians by holding the people of Gaza prisoners on their land. Egyptians are akin to all this.
So if it were the Israelis who stole the Egyptian cars or killed the Egyptian soldiers, demonstrations would have filled the streets, and maybe some would have opted to attack the Israeli Embassy. Now that it is the Palestinians, it passes unnoticed.
I find this situation quite deplorable. Foe and, more importantly, friend must respect countries’ borders and sovereignty. Indeed, it is during hard times that friends show their true colours.
Cancelling the Abou Hassira Moulid was an appropriate action for the pilgrims’ protection, but if these pilgrims are here to pay their respects, next year, they should be treated with civility and hospitality while enjoying their visit to the Abou Hassira shrine. A visitor who does no harm should be received with open arms. By the same token, a friend who uses your generosity to harm you is not your friend.
An interesting matter this history of love and hatred is.