Poll results indicate Egyptians hate Israel and Denmark, love Saudi
CAIRO: The Information and Decision Support Center released yesterday the results of a poll identifying which countries Egyptians believe to be their worst enemies. And, yes, Shaaban Abdel Rehim got it right: The most hated country is Israel.
Denmark came in second. Only two percent of the 1,000 polled by telephone between Aug.31 and Sept. 3 said they considered Israel a friend. The United States came in a close third with the United Kingdom in fourth place.
According to the center, the poll was carried out to determine citizens’ sentiments toward different countries, especially in light of current international and regional events.
Arab countries took the first 12 places in terms of most favored countries, with Saudi Arabia in first place. Ninety-two percent of those polled saw Saudi Arabia as a “very friendly country. Lebanon and Palestine followed with 88 percent and 87 percent, respectively.
Demographics played a role in determining the ranking of most favored countries but did not have an effect on the greatest enemies list.
While more females supported Palestine, more men supported Iran. Those with low incomes tended more toward Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, and Iran. China found its biggest supporters in people with medium and high incomes and high education.
The controversy, however, came in the countries that Egyptians perceive to be enemies. Many people after hearing the poll results were surprised by the fact that Israel and Denmark were put in the same category.
“No, definitely not, was Hanan Youssef’s answer to the question of whether Israel and Denmark were the enemy. “Israel maybe, but Denmark definitely not, adds the software systems analyst. Youssef thinks the enemy is within Egypt.
“There is no way we can equate Denmark with Israel, says a 61-year-old housewife who preferred to withhold her name. With Israel there is a history of antagonism, a long history of suffering at their hands, she adds.
[The animosity toward] Israel is a product of history, it s known. [The animosity towards] Denmark is fashionable. What about the US? They’re doing much worse things to us then publishing a cartoon, says Samer Mobarak, 36, owner of a private business. “This Danish issue simply takes the spotlight away from the real issues.
Ahmed Fikry, 24, a radio monitor, believes the American government is the greatest enemy of Egyptians. He stresses that there is a clear distinction between the American people themselves, who he has a favorable view of, and the policymakers in government.
“They have a plan to control the region to secure the oil supply. They ve colonized us politically and economically. I think our many problems are internal. If we are clean and united, then no one can come near us. They use our corruption against us, he said.
Stressing that the US is a more likely replacement for Denmark in the poll results, 50-year-old housecleaner Abdu Mohammed says, “[The Americans] are the ones who are ruining everything. If they were treating everybody well and dealing well with the Palestinians we would have no problems. All the other countries can be handled or dealt with.
Others looked inward as they searched for the enemy.
“I think ‘we’ are our biggest enemy, says Dina Essam, a 25-year-old graphic designer.
“We can’t face any of our outside enemies because we have a corrupt, unstable inside. We have to improve ourselves first. The problem is in us.
“I think that we are our biggest enemies because we know how we could rectify the situation and we do not do anything about it, says Shaimaa Elian, 24, lawyer at the Egyptian Competition Authority. “We have a government that is stealing the country s wealth. We have a politically disinterested society that doesn t care to change anything about the situation. The morals of society have reached their lowest levels.
Najlaa Abd El-Bary, a graduate student at the American University in Cairo, stresses the element of morality. “We tend to focus so much on the others’ hatred of us rather than working on ourselves and on our own development. Accordingly, we drag ourselves into a vicious circle of us versus the other. She explains that this diverts the attention of people from their “principle role, which is to better themselves.
“We start to point fingers at the other and criticize its hatred of us, thinking erroneously that by victimizing ourselves we can appear as heroes, while in fact we are self destructing and walking into the path of our self-made doom, Abd El-Bary adds.