Friday, November 2, 2007

A Man Who Dared

All Egyptians know the journalistic icon and international political analyst Mohamed Hassanein Heikal. An exceptional man with an exceptional talent and an eye for history. A man who, way into his 80s, is still intellectually fit and determined to deliver his message to the world. He is certainly a unique phenomenon, worthy of utmost respect and admiration. Even if you happen to disagree with him, you can't help but respect his elegant logical talk and polite informed criticism. It is fine if he can not convince you with his point of view, cause you still admire the fact that he respects your mind and appreciate his exceptional literary style in talking about history.

Unfortunately, most Egyptian youth are unfamiliar with Heikal (same as they are unfamiliar with any intellectual icon). But if you ask any of them, he can tell you that Heikal has a weekly show on Al Jazeera channel. They can even give you the name of this show "Ma3 Heikal" which means With Heikal. Young people in our country get almost all of their knowledge from TV. But they can't even dedicate themselves to seeking knowledge through this medium, that's why they don't watch the show. Yet it's good that they heard of Heikal anyway, even if it was through the ads.

Another reason why new generations don't know much about Heikal is because he is untalked of on Egyptian TV. His criticism of the present Egyptian leadership angered those in power. The Egyptian regime's dislike of Heikal grew so fierce, especially after a lecture he delievered at the American University in Cairo several years ago. It was in this lecture that fears of President Mubarak's son ascending to power were publicly discussed for the first time. This drew a red line, and since then an official campaign broke out with the aim of staining the man's history. No wonder editors of official newspapers who thrive on lipservice and hypocrisy were happy to find such a big target. Those of them who still had some self-respect, couldn't bring themselves to take part in this shameful campaign, at least not openly. But at the bottom of the ethical ladder, Rosalyousef magazine and newspaper, led by Abdallah Kamal (my no.1 in 5 Most Hated People) and Karam Gabr, could stand at nothing to please authorities. They basically depended on false accusations and low insults. They dedicated whole issues to this aim. Such people, like pagans in ancient societies, believe that offerings and sacrifice please their gods, so the bigger the object of sacrifice the better. They didn't feel any shame in talking about a man of this value in such a debased way. They (and others who had the same aim) had made the pathetic claim that Heikal's criticism of the Egyptian regime is driven by a personal desire for revenge after he lost hope in gaining any high positions in the current system.

How could those people, who have absolutely no cultural contributions or intellectual value, bring themselves to say such a lie about this great icon? How pathetic they appear! Their positions made them forget who they are. They thought that a chair can raise the value of the person who sits on it. Who are they? What will Egyptians remember about them? (Can Abdallah Kamal and his likes write one word in The Times?) They can't see that Heikal's value as a thinker is way above all of the present Arab leaders compiled together. How can a man with such stature dream of shrinking his size to fit in a position or a chair?

None of those leaders, nor those who claim to be better patriots than Heikal, can have the courage to say what he said in his lecture at Oxford University a couple of days ago. Of course none of them will ever be invited to give a lecture at such a prestigious university, in first place. But in the most imaginary scenario, even if they did, they will concentrate on asskissing and showing their gratitude. They will never dare say what Heikal said, with this straightforwardness and this exceptional eloquency.

You can download the full text of the lecture in English by clicking here or in Arabic by clicking here. You can also check feedback on Oxford University website.

There, at Oxfored University, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal dared tell Europe where it erred. His lecture, "Bridges and Barriers," can definitely be considered one of his literary masterpieces, blending intelligent discourse, elegant philosophy and artistic language. He talked about the widening fracture which seperates the North from the South, and how the North is being unjust in its judgement of the South. He argues that the Clash of Civilizations only exists in the imagination of some people in the North and the West. Civilizations can not clash as they all share one and the same source. He blames the foreign media for celebrating this clash, saying:

"Imagine if hordes of reporters and cameras had been on hand at the St. Bartholomew massacre, when hundreds of thousands of French Huguenots were slaughtered by their Catholic compatriots…Or if some intrepid investigative journalist had managed to sneak into the Tower of London and revealed the nightmare existence of the Tower’s assorted prisoners."

Who dares say that in the eyes of the most prestigious European academics, but Heikal? Who dares criticise their biased views, twisted media, political leaders, and even religious icon, Pope Benedict XVI himself? He did. He said it all, for you and me and every moderate Arab. He could do it because he is a man who valued reason and intellectual dialogue, sincerely believing in their effeciency. He could do it because as much as he believed in this, people believed in him, and he was able to win international respect. He was introduced by the Chancellor of Oxford University as "a living legend". He is a pride to all Egyptians, and Arabs in general. But just like all icons who were denied a due celebration as punishment for challenging the political regime, this living legend is denied a due appreciation or honoring in his country. At the time when the world is talking about his lecture, Egyptian offical newspapers and TV just kept totally silent.

I just wish any wise person in the current regime would understand that all this hatred can never decrease the value of such an icon. Whether they like it or not, whether they acknowledge it or not, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal will always be a living legend.


Fadfadation said...

As we say in traditional Arabic: "Yeslam feehek" :)

The oxford lecture...

I was going to write about it!! you seem to be beating me to post now...grrrr

ALthough i am sure you did a better job than what i could do.

Great post ya Om Lujayna :)

Om Luji said...

Thanks ya Fadfadation. It is feels so good to be praised by you.. even for a change ya3ni :)
I wonder about the telepathy that we've been having lately.. 2 posts in a row. lol
But seriously I was so flattered by "I am sure you did a better job than what I could do." This was really a sweet compliment.
Wish this won't be the last time to receive such a nice comment from you.

Fadfadation said...

You deserve the compliment and more.

Even my wife likes most of your posts. So, you already have invaded my


salama moussa said...

Regardless you agree or disagree with wt Heikal believes in, u should respect the fact that he invests so much time and effort, let talent alone, to design and construct his ideas and arguments. We are witnessing now writers and thinkers who dont care 2 exert minimum efforts to come up with solid theories aiming at justifying wtever the political authorities do. Undoubtedly, Heikal is the most talented, most intelligent, most knowledgeable journalist in the Egyptian history. Maybe some others were exceeding him in one of these three traits, but, surely, no one ever scored like him in the accumulative account. It was said that his legend was based on his closeness to Gamal Abdel Nasser. After 37 years from Nasser's death, few still claim that the man was really a product of anyone more than himself. He doesnt have a Ph.D or even a Bachelor degree, m3 zalek, u find him lecturing in the most renowned world-class universities (Oxford in only on of them, the list is so long). He is brave enough to declare frankly that he regars the West responsible for many of the worst global problems, and ma3 zalek , u find this West knows the man's value more than we, Egyptians in particular and Arabs in genral, do.

Thank you Om Luji for this wonderful post.

Om Luji said...


I had no idea that your wife reads my posts. That's an honor. And saying that she likes most of them kept me wondering about what she thinks when she reads your comments on those posts she likes!
Ana gyya ahaddy elnfoos enta 3aref :)
Really so pleased to know this. She is more than welcomed.

Om Luji said...

If mine was a wonderful post, your is a wonderful comment really.
That's the point I was making. Those who are dedicated to their work and do their best to improve its professional quality, must be respected by all. Doesn't matter if we agree with them or not. It is enough that they are doing an honest job out of pure good intentions.
There should be more written about Heikal as a success story. He kept growing all the time. No matter which position he reached, he kept on exerting the same effort. Unlike all others who get lazy once they climb up a step or two. He is always searching for new information, documents, research as if he was a student. This man is such a great value.
You are right, those who don't know (or intentionally ignore) his real worth, are losing a lot. We need this story among us to inspire the new generation who are dying to find a role model. He is there, just in front of their eyes, but they are blindfolded.

Fadfadation said...


La2 don't worry, you didn't turn her on me.

On the major points of difference between us She has the same thoughts i do.

But she like most of the others.


salama moussa said...

""It is enough that they are doing an honest job out of pure good intentions. ""

Allow me just to modify one thing. Even 7ekayet the good intentions in my opinion is not a crucial factor. Because u can never be sure of intentions and hiddent agendas. And if u were sure of that, many many others could disagree with u. So let's go away from exploring wt lies at hearts. Let's evaluate the work done, the real efforts exerted, the respect paid 2 readers. You can never know if Heikal, or whoever in world, has real good intentions or aspiring for ummm say personal glory. This is no so important in my opinion. Wt really matters is that how much time, effort, talent, respect he invested to convince me with his ideas?? Abdallah Kalam 4 examble doesnt bother to even read abt he is writing abt, let alone doing research! Osama Saraya 4 examble writes his articles while he is shaving at the morning. Many ppl I know regard Nawal el Sa3dawi for examble as a woman who suffered from personal abuse thats y she stands for women's rights, BUT they DO respect the fact that she is a real intellectual, logical, fair person. I am sure that u understand wt I mean.

Thx a lot for ur praise. Any good comments on ur posts originate in the first place from the high quality of ur eloquent language and thouths.

Fadfadation said...

You're Tagged:

nabila said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I am quite sure that u deserved all these appreciation

Fadfadation said...

eh el i7'tefa2 da?

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Ma -3lina said...

Hey where huv u been??

It has been a month now since ur last post !!!!!!!

Hope ur ok and plz tamenina 3leeki

Om Luji said...

Fadfadation & Ma-3lina:
Thanks a lot for asking. I miss writing too. I just happen to be facing a very hard time nowadays. Will do my best to cope with it and start posting again. Pray for me.

Fadfadation said...

Seems we all are having tough times these days...strange.

Rabena ma3ana kolena ISA :)

Ma -3lina said...

enty keda made us worried about it !!!

hope u and luji r in good health isa and waiting for u

Fadfadation said...

Ana 3awez afham 7aga,

ya3ny i was the one saying i feel i am loosing touch with blogging on my blog's anniversary back in August, and u are the one that lost contact with her blog.

Tab tegy ezay dy?

GIRL! pickup the keyboard and start typing... !


Hope the problems are not family related or anything ya Rab.