Schrattenkalk in Kairo
23/07/09

I should start with a short disclaimer: This post is motivated by various discussions I had in Egypt about the West, especially after the recent killing of  an Egyptian woman in a German court. This is not an academic post in any sense. I basically threw together some thoughts and ideas. If I hope to do anything with this text, then it is an objectification of a currently very emotional debate –and be that only in the case of the two people who take the time reading it. If you have no idea who Marwa is, well start by having a look on Bikya Masr. They also report on the reactions in the Middle East.

The story of Marwa al-Schirbini has raised a number of questions, in the West as well as the Arab world. Most of these questions are legitimate, but the problem is, that the issues need to be disentangled. The issues at stake, as far as I understand it, are: Immigration in Europe and the failure of the multi-cultural society, the challenge of liberal societies how to react to non-liberal and anti-liberal currents within those societies, the new islamophobic currents and the old extreme right, popular ignorance and tendencies of reporting in modern media. Each of these issues is distinct, even if the boundaries at times may be illusive and overlapping.

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18/07/09

Yes I know. I am slightly off schedule with this one. But I have been travelling too much recently and it was hard to catch up. The first chapter of my tale I was able to write after being back from Egypt, just before going to Germany, then to France, to Germany again and again. And now I am once more in Egypt since a week and it seems I need a quite Cairo weekend to be able to get together my notes on this one. It is a tale of anguish and heroism, of stupidity and failure, but also of frogs, snakes and monkeys. Well actually no monkeys, but it always sounds good to mention them.

Where should I start? I believe one could make the argument, that I should start where I have left my story the last time: “The next morning I met up with my brother and eventually after a lengthy breakfast we got on our way to Cambodia. But as they say, that is another story…” That means, after a night on the train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, we went back to the train station and got the train to the Cambodian border. It was a trip without too much excitement, if one discounts the odd Singaporean traveller who hidden behind large sun glasses rambled on and on about his opinion of Thailand and the other countries in the region – most of which were not too positive. In the early evening we arrived in Aranyapratet, the Thai border town. From here we took a Tuktuk to the border, where we were welcomed by not so friendly, bribe extorting Cambodian officials. Forcing people to pay an express fee seems to be rather common on this border point, where the only alternative is to wait until the officials give up on a bribe, which might be hours later. Finally we arrived in Poi Pet from where we got a ride to Sisophon, the first stop of our trip.

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18/07/09