Category Archives: Culture

No Haven for Scrooge in Cairo

The encroachment of Christmas in Cairo? Dan Murphy shares his experience in this piece in the CSM. It is both eye-opening and rather amusing. Though this should come as no surprise to those living and travelling in the Muslim world. In Islamabad, Pakistan the local McDonald’s was celebrating Halloween a couple years ago and Valentine’s Day is quickly becoming the norm nationwide. To quote Faraz Rabbani: “Merry Merry.”

For many years I’ve taken pleasure in living in Muslim lands free from the trappings of Christmas commerce and the unholy trinity: Carols, mistletoe, and, most daunting, Santa’s lap.

That’s why I was startled to hear strains of “We wish you a merry Christmas,” coming in my Cairo bedroom window last week.

Is nothing sacred? Egypt is 94 percent Muslim. This is the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood, the modern Islamist movement that ultimately seeks to make the Koran the constitution of the world.

This is home to the great scholars of Al Azhar University, and the chauvinist ideology of Sayyid Qutb. Yet, remarkably, there seems to be more controversy in Washington over the devoutly Christian President Bush sending out a million cards wishing friends and supporters a joyous “Holiday Season,” than there is over the spread of all things Christmas here in Cairo.

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