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Dispatches From Cairo: Clinton’s Clumsy Visit

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Posted on Jul 18, 2012
AP/Brendan Smialowski

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton caught in the wind Sunday during a visit to Egypt.

By Lauren Unger-Geoffroy

(Page 2)

Having traveled to France from Cairo a few days ago, I saw a small group of Saudi Wahhabis (members of an extreme form of Islamic fundamentalism popular in Saudi Arabia and spreading among Salafis) praying in fierce unison at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, their movements precise, their flowing headdresses and white robes impeccable, their beards long and scraggly, their eyes burning with hostility as they looked over the arrivals from Cairo, some of whom were women with uncovered faces or men who did not “control their women” or interrupt the line to turn toward Mecca to pray.

Behind me were two Egyptian men, well dressed and with evidence of their piousness on their foreheads [a mark caused by habitually pressing one’s head to a prayer rug].

“God preserve us, they are going to Egypt,” said one, half-joking.

“They are Saudi, don’t you think?” asked the other.


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“Must be.”

“Anyway, they are Wahhabi.”

“God save Egypt.”

They smiled at me, and we all made the “yikes” expression and laughed nervously.

“Well, the good news,” said a young man in a cap and a galabaya over his jeans, “is that our miraculous ex-President Mubarak who was dead and alive so many times and recently clinically dead is now feeling much better and well enough to leave the hospital.”

A 30-something man next to him with the cross tattoo of a Coptic Christian on his wrist lifted his hand for a high-five, and the other slapped his palm as we all laughed.

Secretary Clinton, please don’t think these Egyptians are waiting to party until you grant them permission.

As Ramadan begins this week, the Muslims of the Arabic Republic of Egypt will be one with more than a billion from different sects across the world, in unison, in passion, in self-discipline, in deprivation and reward, in brotherhood, in study of the Quran, in faith, in prayer, in love, in joy, in celebration every night with family, and in the satisfaction and peace of submission. People will be fasting and kneeling to pray together by the thousands in the streets, rich beside poor.

Ms. Clinton, don’t come here again offering food and weapons and happiness and the status of being owned by Uncle Sam to these proud people. You cannot predict the response to your loud and graceless gestures. You cannot dance to this music. There are genies here; it is written in the Quran.

These are people you cannot buy.

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