Racial Discrimination in the Egyptian series

Discussion about Wilbur Smith's Egyptian series.

Racial Discrimination in the Egyptian series

Postby EgyDoc » Sat Jun 09, 2007 12:52 pm

I am an Egyptian Muslim. I read the whole Egyptian series. I was impressed but offended at the same time. Most of the bad guys are black or Egyptian muslims and most of the good guys are whites or Christians. What a co incidence. It makes it worse when he insists on sighting the name of Allah before any atrocities commited by them. I am sure it's a mere co incidence.
His idea of Egypt (ministers wearing Jilbab, male secertaies, male-only society and female oppression) reflects the classic western view of the east, blind stereotyping. This Arabian Nights view might be accepted from the lay man but not from a writter in the caliber of Smith. It's claimed that he does a lot of field research before he starts his works. If he had done any about Egypt, he would have known better that there are female ministers in the Egyptian Government and this has been the case for the last few decades, women actually have more rights that some western countries when it comes to civil rights, divorce and children. This poor field study is reflected also by the bad choice (make up) of names which has no relationship to reality. Suggesting a gross naiivity of the Egyptian officials in the 7th scroll is typical of wetern writters towards others and I found it offending too. Still I enjoyed the novels very much but where offended at some parts. email: wagih2000@hotmail.com
Last edited by EgyDoc on Sun Jun 10, 2007 7:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Nefer » Sat Jun 09, 2007 2:45 pm

Hi EgyDoc and welcome to the forum!

If you read the rest of his books, the bad guys and good guys are not so "black and white" (baad I know) as you argue. I'll give you examples to look out for in future books - Mungo St. John, Job (who'se last name I can't seem to remember - in A Time to Die, someone help me out please!), Ramon de Santiago y Machado are the few men who come to mind, not to mention Royan, who is half-Egyptian. I'm sure the other members can give other examples of people who don't fit the black=bad, white=good mould.

And I would argue that WS writes it as he sees it. He does do a lot of research, and I'm sure he would tell you that he changes the facts to fit the story, not the other way around.

I didn't know about the facts you laid out about Egypt - is there a link you can provide?

As for the us vs them in most of WS's books, I tend to agree. I was introduced to Edward Said the other day, and I'm very interested in reading his book, Orientalism, because there has been a very skewed view of "The Orient". I'm Sikh, and in Elephant Song, ironically one of my favourite books, there is a very un-flattering portrayal of Sikh businessmen. I don't know enough to disagree with his view though. The character is just that, and while I'm upset that all the thousands of people who read that book will have that view of Sikhs, there's not much I can do about it. He puts his view out there, and I can do my best to educate the people I come into contact with :)

Looking forward to seeing you around the Board!
"If I ever ask anything of you it would be to please consider life with an open mind and respect the opinions and wishes of others as long as they bring no harm to you and as long as you bring no harm or corruption to others."
~ Jason Mraz
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Postby EgyDoc » Sun Jun 10, 2007 8:04 am

Hello my friend. I am glad someone is partially seeing it the way I do. As a foreigner here, I was startled by the amount of misconception about my culture and back ground. I guess I grew hypersensitive to any writer who tries to fit characters into pre-perceived frames (as this is the easy thing to do).
Regarding the link you asked about
http://www.egypt.gov.eg/english/default.asp
If you go to Wikkipedia and search for "Egyptian Government", you will find loads of links to official websites.
By the way, I am not saying I like the way things are run there but a fair view of reality would be satisfying.
Thanks for the response and hope to hear from more people here soon.
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Re: Racial Discrimination in the Egyptian series

Postby Captain Reactionary » Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:50 pm

You should check out Monsoon then. Although it is framed as Christians Vs. Muslims to some degree, there is a ton of material in it where one of the two main protagonists (Dorian Courtney) observes life among the Muslims and sees how much more advanced their science and sanitation is compared to his own side's.

Wilbur had to set his heroes among the westerners, but he isn't blind to the virtues of the Islamic lands either.
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