Mohammed from Cairo, early 20's, met us on a corner while we were looking at the map. We talked a little and were eventually invited to a teashop where we spoke at length, played some dominos and even had a little tea. Mohammed was friendly and open with us but after we broached the subject of politics he became preoccupied with the ongoing hostilities in the Palestinian territories and a perceived divide between the Arab and Western worlds. Almost every line of conversation eventually led back to it. His answers might be a little startling. We kept our own opinions to ourselves, as we usually try to do (especially in situations like this).

Mohammed asked that we not put his picture on the website.

1. What's the best thing about Egypt?

We are a good people and I think we want nothing more than to see the three religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, live in peace with each other like brothers. We want safety for the world.

2. What's the worst thing about Egypt?

We don't like the politics of Ariel Sharon (Israel's prime minister). We don't like his mind. I think that America looks though the glasses of Sharon and Sept.11 happened because of this. It was to try and stop the Bush way in the Middle East. We all love Bill Clinton, wish he could still be the President. I think that if he were, there would have been no Sept.11.

Nigel: So what do you think of Osama Bin Ladin

Well, the attack happened during Ramadan when the Koran outlaws killing people. For this reason many think he is not a good Muslim.

Nigel: But that is not really something bad about Egypt. To get back to the question, what I would like to know, what is something difficult about living in this country?

Well, Egypt is expensive, or is getting more and more expensive because inflation is high. This pack of cigarettes would have cost 4 pounds a month ago. Today they are 5.50.

3. What's the best thing about America?

The technology. Computers, education, movies....America has the best universities in the world, the best movies, the best doctors.

4. What's the worst thing about America?

Americans lack respect. They don't respect religions, they don't respect people or property. Over there, you don't walk down the street with an expensive watch or more than $5 in your pocket because they have no respect for each others things. They'll rob you. Here in Egypt if you put 200 pounds on the table and leave it, it will be there when you come back. No one will take it because it doesn't belong to them. That comes from respect.
After Sept.11, if we see an American on the street we don't do anything. We welcome them. In America, and I saw this with my own eyes on the news on television, they were hitting an Egyptian women. Now she takes off her head scarf so people won't know she's an Arab. That shows no respect of the Americans for religion.

Julie: Do you think Americans hate Arabs?

Yes, I don't know why.

Julie: Are Egyptians afraid to go to America?

No. Egyptians aren't afraid of anything. Like me, we all have only one life and I put that in the hands of Allah. There is nothing to be afraid of because it is in the hands of God. I want to tell you something though, and for you to go home and tell everyone you know. Egypt is a very safe country.

Cairo, Egypt

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