We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

More answers: on infidelity

Marc asked

Do people say anything to you on the street about being a foreigner? What is it like being an infidel in a Muslim country?

My world in Cairo is pretty small, and most days I’m either in my expat-friendly suburb or my expat-friendly part of downtown near work. Plus there are a lot of expats in Egypt, and it’s got a huge tourism industry, and Egyptians are used to seeing foreigners. So that might be why I don’t hear people calling me a foreigner. Or maybe they are, and I don’t recognize it because I don’t know the language. But Cairo is a pretty cosmopolitan place.

I’m sure people are talking about me on the metro, where I’m often the only (obvious) westerner on the car. Since I’m in the car with other women, I tend to smile and then go back to my book or listening to podcasts or whatever. Generally, I don’t hear comments addressed to me.

In regards to being an infidel (and, am I the only one who just made the etymological connection between infidel and infidelity?): while I’ve never been a non-infidel in Egypt, I can say it’s not been that big of a deal so far.

Egypt has a significant minority of Christians, mostly Copts, and Christianity is an officially recognized religion (as is Judaism, go figure). I’ve seen people wearing crosses openly, which is apparently not a problem. And yet another taxi driver this morning asked me if I was Christian, and said he was too (well, sorta too).

Really, it’s been very interesting to live in a Muslim country where Islam is practiced openly. It’s interesting to see men praying in a corner at work at work. It’s interesting to have my work schedule change because of Ramadan (and lovely to get holiday time for Muslim and Christian holidays).

Living here feels more like immersion in a new culture rather than in a new religion.


3 October 2007 - Posted by | expat scene, our life in egypt

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