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We start by lightening the load on our children’s minds, allowing them objectivity rather than indoctrination, and hopefully guiding them to think and plan for a future instead of programming them to perpetually whine over a past long gone.


Much ado about a little something again, as the Egyptian education authorities pokes a hornet nest.


It goes with the usual hysteria! But is it merited? Well, if “the preservation of history” is the only focus and every other detail is blocked out, then yes, there is potentially room for a debate. Otherwise, this is possibly the best news I have heard all week in a sea of bad news, each piece of news a wave sweeping over the last so fast, I barely had time to pop my head up for air.

The latest news?

Restricting the tide of “hero worship” in the language curriculum in Egyptian schools.

The assortment of headlines may have included more sentational wording but that really is the total sum of it! It is not an attempt to obliterate the memory of Salah El Din or Uqba Ibn Nafi. Just restrict their stories to where they belong, in the history class with lessons to learn from their errors as well as triumphs, not the Arabic language/Religious education one usually delivered by the same teacher.

“Bravo!”  is what many of us think and I will tell you why.

I personally love languages, all of them, especially my native one Arabic!

Nothing touches my very soul like Arabic.

As a young student, my Arabic teacher, who I am not going to name as I do not wish to be associated with his name now or ever was also my religious education teacher. When the teacher began to adopt very fundamental views on religion, none of us in that class questioned them. Cut a long story short, eventually I announced to my horrified parents that I would be wearing a Burka from then on!

Shorter story still, my father said NO, absolutely NOT.

That really was the total sum of my teenage rebellion quashed by my tyrant father- or so I thought at the time. Oh, I protested and complained for weeks, but that was that, as I never dreamt of disobeying my father at 14/15 I just settled for resenting him for a very long time. It is ok — I’ve grown up since realizing over time how we get so excited at times over our freedom of this, that, or the other, and we should, sometimes! But at times, depending on what is at stake, we should pause and look further, wider, and deeper into what we are about to launch into wars, be it an actual war or just one of words.


I very much doubt an introduction to Salah El Din is necessary for anyone reading this. Every one knows who he was. And this is too short an article to discuss a man who is possibly the most revered after religious figures. I ll let you do that research into the volumes and volumes of studies at your own leisure. What is relevant to this very short piece is what I believe is the impact of the myth on the whole region, especially during the past 100 years or so.  Allow me to quote a few lines from Switching Souls – a book online- that sum this impact: “….. the father of every Arab nation, fancied himself the reincarnation of Salah El Din, the great Muslim warrior who unified the Islamic nation against the undeniable danger of the Crusades. Imperialism became the bastard offspring of the Crusades and Zionism was cast as the devil child of both: who could can resist that?”

I can just picture the shock and horror generated by an Arab, which i proudly am, disputing the greatness of this incomparable Warrior.

Relax I am not disputing anything!

Salah El Din was great and inspirational in every way.

Salah El Din is also dead now and the circumstances that dictated any or all of his actions were never identical to the circumstances throughout the past 100 years, and that is the point: the only common denomination in this operation is in fact Jerusalem. If we are brutally honest, had Jerusalem not been the focal point, he might have remained where he belonged, in the history books relating to the Crusades. By linking the crusades to Western imperialism, religion was dragged into a dispute that had nothing to do with religion to start with.

Yes, I know anti-semitism started that whole chain reaction with the persecution of the Jews, an ethnic group recognised for their religion most of the time, I know!

Still, leaping from that to making the Jewish/Arab conflict a religious one and asserting that the fight for Jerusalem was a religious holy war was, is, and will be the doom of the whole region.

The formula is all wrong and too deadly, and it works only with the mythical figure of the warrior at its centre. So it makes a certain kind of sense to lay that to rest, especially in language classes that by habit often spill into religious education.

It is a tall order compressing all this in a few lines, but I sincerely believe that if we are serious about finding peace for us all in the region, not to mention pulling the plug and the black magic rug from under the feet of every abomination that has sprung from it as a result, then we have absolutely no choice but to start the divorce procedures now: divorce from myths, from forced similarities, from delusions of recapturing a glorious past by dressing up in the heroes costumes. Instead, today, we start by concentrating on freeing young and impressionable minds from the cobwebs left hanging within them, and by founding a stronger basis to their identities than “I used to be great, so great my great, great, grand father used to whoop your great, great grandfather’s butt, you non-Arab, non-Muslim thing ya!”.

We start by lightening the load on our children’s minds, allowing them objectivity rather than indoctrination, and hopefully guiding them to think and plan for a future instead of programming them to perpetually whine over a past long gone.

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