Anti-American sentiments

Shelley Blundell

Since Sept. 11 most Americans have become familiar with anti-American sentiments expressed by foreign media sources.

But in Egypt, anti-American sentiment is coming from a rather surprising place — the commercial film industry.

Egyptian cinema, the only commercial film industry in the Arabic-speaking world, often incorporates internationally important issues, such as economic globalization, into its films. But lately, anti-Americanism has found a popular audience among Egyptians.

According to a 2004 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 93 percent of people surveyed in Jordan had an unfavorable view of the United States.

Political analysts speculate this statistic may be attributable in part to the invasion of Iraq and U.S. support for Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And, according to a 2004 Washington Post article, leading Egyptian directors, such as Youssef Chahine, are addressing these points of view in their movies.

Manuel Rey, senior international relations major, is not particularly shocked by this.

“To tell the truth, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner,” Rey said. “We’re used to foreign media trashing our methods and the way our country ‘attacks’ everyone — why should we be surprised the movie industry is using it as a message to make money? It’s obviously a top seller,” Rey said.

Indeed, an Egyptian lampoon movie released in 2004 featured an exploding Statue of Liberty in cinema lobbies — almost every showing of the movie was sold out.

“I think it’s up to us to build positive relationships with other countries now,” Rey said. “But who knows if we’re too late?”

Contact general assignment reporter Shelley Blundell at [email protected]