Horseman Without a Brain

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Ramadan is over, and so are most of the month-long soap operas that dominate prime-time Arab TV during the period. The non-Muslim world was interested in only one of these, of course: Horseman Without a Horse, the Egyptian series whose main character was obsessed by The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Egypt dismissed complaints about the show from the U.S. and Israel, citing Egyptian regard for free expression. Now that the show has finished its run, it turns out that Egypt cut 40 scenes from the series.

However, such editing only moved some of Egypt's viewers from their homes to their nearest satellite-equipped coffee shop; the uncut version of Horseman was beamed to subscribers by Al Manar, the Lebanon-based satellite service that is usually identified as backed by Hizbollah. Al Manar, by the way, was reportedly the primary medium for the spread of the crazed story, picked up from a backwater newspaper in the region, that 4000 Jews failed to show up for work at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Horseman was heavily criticized in the Arab press, though more for its distortions of Egyptian history than for its exploitation of paranoid Judeophobia. One author who did criticize the series for its paranoia, and for the destructive impact of paranoia on Egypt's own culture, was playwright Ali Salim. Unfortunately, Salim has been marginalized by Egypt's cultural establishment for visiting Israel, and for writing a book about the Israelis that attempted to address the region's problems in a rational manner.

NEXT: Telecom In Egypt

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  1. You don’t have to go to Egypt for this stuff. Just try Paterson, NJ:

    http://www.secularislam.org/articles/protocols.htm

    There is more information on this issue on the website of Daniel Pipes, http://www.danielpipes.org, around November 5, 2002. See also the website of the Anti-Defamation League.

    In New Jersey, we also have Amiri Baraka spreading
    the same 4000 Israelis rumor. He spoke at Rider University (Lawrenceville, NJ) to a warm welcome by faculty and staff on December 6. The event was covered in the Times of Trenton (NJ), December 7, article by Krystal Knapp. I went to the event, but couldn’t get into the auditorium to hear Baraka himself.

    I wish journalists would spend more time on the insanity in this country than on insanities taking place thousands of miles away. It’s not as though there isn’t enough of it. Frankly, New Jersey has become a kind of battleground.

  2. Sorry, Daniel Pipes’s website is
    http://www.danielpipes.com, not .org

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