My Google search landed an article from the CBC News, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in my inbox. Since my Google search zooms in on Egyptian topics only, the headline “I’d rather die than go back there,” caught my attention.
The article revolves around an Egyptian gay man—let’s call him Tarek, seeking asylum in Canada. Tarek, a graduate from the University of Manitoba, is now on a work permit in Canada. Tarek’s Egyptian passport will expire in June, and he would like to speed up his immigration process to avoid deportation that may be imminent once his passport becomes void.
To do just that, Tarek has amassed all his documents and presented his case with evidence that proves he’d rather die than go back to Egypt to face the ordeals that gay men face in Egypt. Facing deportation, I would have done just that: collected the necessary verification that corroborated my case and highlighted my pain and misery.
At the same time, I agree with Tarek that gay men are looked upon with disdain in Egypt and am fully aware of how they are treated. I sympathize with him and concur that, if he wants to live a normal life as a gay man, he is better off in Canada.
However, a few clarifications need to be addressed. First, “He will be forced to go into the army,” is one reason why Tarek dreads going back to Egypt. The Egyptian law stipulates that every male gets drafted, a compulsory military service; this means that Tarek is no better or worse than all the males of his age group in Egypt. Does this give all such males the right to seek asylum elsewhere or is Tarek any better than the rest?
In Egypt, students postpone drafting until they graduate, and a mandatory military service for a university graduate like Tarek is only one year, not three as mentioned in the article. He may also be allowed to avoid drafting if he is a single son, the son of an officer or conscript who died in battle, physically challenged, or the older son of a deceased father. At the same time, dual citizens are not expected to serve.
The other matter is that Tarek can renew his passport at the Egyptian Consulate in Ottawa; he needn’t return to Egypt for that though I don’t see his return as an issue; after all, he lived there all his life. This may alleviate the worry with regard to deportation until his immigration papers are finalized.
Also, according to the article, Tarek hasn’t come out yet as a gay man, and he did not tell anyone but his father, who told him to keep silent about it. However, to him the publicity gained from publishing his dilemma in the Canadian media surpassed his need to keep it quiet. He must have thought carefully of the ramifications of such a move.
I’m simply reiterating Tarek’s case, but I’m more interested in how western media perceive the conduct of other nations and impose western standards on them.
Not in defence of but in acceptance of reality, I ask the western world, which has finally deemed same sex relationships as a right, to realize that it may take decades for other countries to accept changes in religious beliefs, social standards, and norms. It is not an easy goal and will definitely be fought against tooth and nail, so let’s be more realistic here.
In fact, it took the West until recently to accept gays and their rights, but now that it is fait accompli in the West, the rest of the world must follow suit. When a change in what has been the norm for years is ratified, immediately the western media are horrified that the same is not implemented around the world. It is as though the West knows best. Well, it doesn’t, and what may apply in the West may not suit the rest of the world.
I agree that human rights’ issues are universal matters; citizens of the globe should all be treated fairly. Fair enough, but deep-rooted and ingrained lifestyles are not easy to shake off. I suggest to western media not to rush the world into accepting their standards and imposing their ways. It’s more complicated than that.
Both Canada and the US had a draft system at one point or another that was abolished since. That doesn’t mean that other countries should do away with drafting; they may rely on such a system to face their own hardships be it war or terrorism.
Marijuana has been decriminalized for medicinal and other purposes in many states and provinces in both Canada and the US, but I doubt it will be legalized in many other countries at least for now.
Common law status, same sex marriage, and western liberalism work for the West, and the West perceive such matters as a symbol of modernity and equality, but other nations have the right to choose what fits their needs and their peoples.
Yes, change has come to the West but after a history of slavery, imperialism, and bigotry, so, West, let the world live the way it chooses. Don’t demand what is unreasonable or at least what may fit you and not others. Give the rest of the world a break.
What fits the goose rarely fits the gander.