Abdelgawad dispels misconceptions about Egypt

Alexa Palacios
Staff Writer

Naeema Ali Abdelgawad, esteemed Egyptian Fulbright Scholar, addressed the conflicts that surround religion and misconceptions of the Middle East in her lecture and presentation of her film “Hasan and Morqos” on March 24.

“There is an issue of sectarian conflict between Christians and Muslims. This movie shows the ramifications between the Christian and Muslim society,” Abdelgawad said.

“The message of the movie is don’t try and judge people according to their ‘cloth identity’, but judge people according to their own human essence.”

The lecture, “Egypt: Between Freedom and Chaos” was a three hour long presentation held in Morgan Auditorium with about 50 people in attendance that brought forth the lingering issues in religion that are associated with the Middle East as well as many of the misconceptions and skewed opinions about them.

Abdelgawad is most importantly an Egyptian scholar and a relayer of truth regarding the Middle East. Abdelgawad has worked as a translator and novelist and received her doctorate in 2004 from Cairo Helwan University in comparative African-American literature.

Before showing the movie, Abdelgawad gave a speech on its theme as well as the conflicts addressed.

Throughout her speech Abdelgawad continuously emphasized “cloth identity” and how people should not be judged based on it. “Cloth Identity” is the way that people are stereotyped according to their way of dress.

The film, “Hasan and Morqos” is a dramatic movie infused with plenty of comedy and irony for entertainment purposes. It is a story of two men, Hasan who is a Muslim and Morqos who is a Christian, who are placed in very compromising situations that force them to conceal their religious beliefs and alter the identities of both them and their family’s.

Neither Hasan nor Morqos know the religion of the other and despite the conflicts between both religions they become friends.

However, after finding out that along with having different identities they have different religious views as well.

Both men become outraged and refuse to associate with the other character or his family until their children remind the parents that at one point they were friends.

The most powerful part of the film is the last scene when the two families come together during a riot between the members of the Christian and Islamic faith. Through the pain of getting beaten by the angry mob, they stand together and remember the bond they once had when religion was not an issue.

“It was really cool that she was able to make a political statement in a fun, interesting way that could captivate the audience,” said Brittany Martinez, a sophomore speech communications major.

“I thought that she was willing to speak her mind and portray her personal opinions, and did not mind questions. However, I thought that she was very set in her opinions,” said Ava Jahanvash, sophomore economics and political science major.

After the movie, Abdelgawad asked for the opinions of the audience.

She proposed many controversial questions that forced the audience to realize their own misconceptions and stereotypes regarding the issues brought forth in the movie.

Audience members asked Adelgawad of the stereotypes that Middle Easterners associate with Americans. She then steered the question back to the audience by asking for stereotypes Americans have about people in the Middle East.

Audience member, sophomore Julian Burrell said that some of the stereotypes associated with Middle Easterners are that they are terrorists, always trying to impose their beliefs and are not very wealthy people.

Abdelgawad stated that there are many misconceptions Americans and Middle Eastern people have regarding each other, and that the truth can accommodate itself according to the people.

“With this movie I tried to show some faces of the Egyptian society,” Abdelgawad said. “Don’t deal with people according to their own affiliations but according to their own human essence.”

Alexa Palacios can be reached at alexa.palacios@laverne.edu.

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