Category Archives: Egypt

The Alexandria of one’s youth

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 08.55.36Dalrymple writes that a cosmopolitan city, such as the Alexandria he knew as a young man in the 1890s,

is one in which several nationalities and cultures coexist with some actual knowledge of each other’s languages and sympathetic participation in each other’s customs, not a city in which the citizens of 167 different countries happened to have turned up in the hope of social security and/or a decent job.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 09.00.10There is

a difference between a cocktail and a Mickey Finn; and I doubt that many extollers of cosmopolitanism in Le Monde sense of the word have taken a serious interest in Somali culture, for example, even if there is a large Somali ‘community’ in their city. (I have been to Somalia, and I intended at the time to read the works of a celebrated specialist anthropologist called I.M. Lewis about Somali culture. It is still on my list of things to do.)

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Against Islam, the ideological gloves must come off

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 08.56.04For the moment, writes Dalrymple,

it will have to be accepted as a regrettable fact that there are substantial numbers of young people in European countries susceptible to the siren song of idiot Islamism.

Obviously,

there must be properly directed surveillance of susceptible types.

But

surveillance will never be enough: criticism of Islam itself must be free and unconstrained and relentless. For example, in the very small town in France near which I live some of the time, there was a demonstration against terrorism. The small and generally well-integrated population of Maghrebis there was conspicuous by its absence. Of course, citizens are free to demonstrate or not demonstrate; but it is at least possible that some of the young Maghrebis did not demonstrate because of fear of denunciation, of accusations of apostasy.

Mohammedans

live in fear of one another more than in fear of others, at least in the modern world, and this is because of a fundamental incompatibility of Islam with the modern world.

The accusation of apostasy in Islam is

potentially fatal to the accused. So long as this is so, so long as Muslims fear to adopt another religion or publicly proclaim their atheism or detestation of Mohammed and Islam, intellectually justified or not, the religion is incompatible with our notions of what our polity should be.

The prevalent

insincere (and cowardly) homage to Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance

must cease. No religion

that makes apostasy a punishable crime is tolerant. On the contrary, it more resembles a criminal conspiracy, at least when the punishment is severe. This is so no matter what proportion of Muslims are decent people (the people of Egypt, for example, have often struck me as among the most charming and hospitable in the world, as did the Syrians in the good old days of uncontested secular dictatorship), or how troubling or hurtful they find the thought.

Aux armes, citoyens! And let your arms, says Dalrymple,

be intellectual ones as well as a good intelligence service.

Browse while you can

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 00.02.04This is Dalrymple’s elegiac comment on second-hand bookshops. In one of the few SHBs that have not yet been killed off by High Street fake-charity shops (it should not be forgotten that the the fake-charity shops receive large subventions from the British state), Dalrymple discovers, and snaps up, a copy of J. Alexander’s The Truth About Egypt (1911), which he praises as

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 00.19.51a testimony to the vanity of power, or of supposed power.

A certain J. Alexander is the author of The Jews: Their Past, Present, and Future (1870), ‘being a succinct history of God’s ancient people in all ages, together with a brief account of the origin and formation of the Talmud based upon the most recent and approved authorities, to which is appended a tabulated statement of the numbers of Jews in all countries of the world’.

I am not sure this is the same J. Alexander.

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Site of J. Alexander’s house

The J. Alexander who authored The Truth About Egypt signs off his preface ‘Cairo, April 5, 1911’ while the J. Alexander who authored The Jews signs off thus: ‘124, Stockwell Park Road, S.W. [which now appears to have been destroyed by bombing or to have been demolished], March 1, 1870’.

The J. Alexander of Stockwell Park Road writes:

The author being himself a descendant of Israel, has brought to bear on his subject all the love for the people from which he has sprung, combined with the sincerest attachment to the Christian Church, of which, by the grace of God, he has become a member.

The appendix is reproduced below. The statistics are poignant. 456,000 Jews in Germany in 1867; the figure for 1950 was 37,000.

1 23456

Farouk’s great good sense

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 23.32.23The King of Egypt and the Sudan possessed one of the world’s largest collections of choice pornography, which he had to abandon in his hurried exile. He ‘never tried to do any good, which is the most one can possibly ask of any national leader‘, writes Dalrymple.