March 13, 2009

Can You Use The American Flag As A Hijab?

So I was once talking to this Egyptian woman here, just casual, and some how or another the topic came to living in Egypt verses America or anywhere else. She was saying that it must have been hard for me in America. She said that it must have been hard because it's not your country or it's "ghorba" meaning a strange place. I told her it wasn't strange for me. America is as multicultural as it gets, and that actually I don't feel like Egypt is "my country". I still feel like I am in "ghorba".

She was shocked. I mean, she was floored that the Egyptian blood running through my veins doesn't automatically make me feel right at home here. It's not that simple, and it's not a black and white issue. I was raised by Egyptian parents, lived among Egyptian relatives and came here a month in the summers between age 10 and 18. That has it's effect, but it does not make me like any Egyptian girl born and raised here. I moved here at 26. I do have some Egyptian/Arab pride, but I still would if I still lived in the US, regardless.

It seems to me that it's normal for me to identify with the US a hundred times more than I do with life here. I just don't see eye to eye with a lot of views here. This woman was like, mortally offended by my casual mention of not feeling like Egypt is "my country" and that America was. I don't know if she thought it disloyal in someway. When I saw her reaction, I asked her don't you think that's only natural? She went on about my heritage and family which as I said, has it's part, but it doesn't change where you lived your entire life for a quarter century or everything you've ever known.


  1. I totally understand how you feel! I moved to US when I was 12, and went back home for a visit only 3 times in the past 10 years, with long gaps in between each visit. Maybe thats why I feel like a visitor back "home". I remember during my last visit almost 2 years ago when I saw American tourists (its a rare sight) I felt like going over and hugging them, LOL! I think you call home wherever you grow up. Like my mom grew up in Kyrgizstan but lived all her adult (18 and on) life in Uzbekistan. But she still calls Kyrgizstan her home, and whenever she meets anyone from Kyrgizstan she feels like she gets more excited than if she met anyone from Uzbekistan. Thats just the human nature.

    It doesn't make you any less Egyptian, but you are as American as you can be :)

  2. I'm also Egyptian-American and I identify more with American culture than I do with Egyptian. Everything I do and the way I approach problems-I do it all "American style", not deliberately, it's just how I am. In fact, I don't know any Egyptian/American who identifies more with Egypt than they do with America.

    I'm not surprised about your friend's reaction. It's like when they ask, "What's better, Egypt or America?" Even though everyone knows America is technically "better", at the end of the day, they all want to hear that Egypt is still Umm al doonya.

  3. Yay!! I would prefer America too just because I'm so used to the food and everything here, lol.

  4. Masha'Allah good post topic.

    I totally feel where you are coming from. I grew up in USA til 19. Then I went to Lebanon and spent 3.5 years there and I feel it's more my home and prefered culture and Love it so much there, now I'm in UAE I feel closer to USA roots than Lebanese. It's a very weird pull though.

    ARg I hated when they always ask you which you prefer, as if you can't have more than one preferance. i always wanted to say "Well actually neither USA or Lebanon are the best, I prefer Sri lanka.. (where all their maids come from)" You know just to mix it up and make them go huh? Lol

    But I still do American Thinking ways but slowly I've seen them eroded for Lebanese behavior. Like instead of letting my kids go jump in mud as I would have before I know go yelling, Nooooo, you're gonna get sooo dirty!! And track it through me hosue!
    I fully blame my hubby for that change lol.

  5. I love this post is intersting!

  6. hahaha Umm al doonya? YA RIGHT

    Seriously why do Egyptians have so much pride? They treat the country like its a trash bin and pee all over it then ask u why you dont prefer it?! Well hmm let me think about that!

  7. Sonia, it's interesting how it feels to different people.

    UmmOmar, Yea, Oh man I get that famous question all the time and you're right...they really want to hear it's Egypt. My canned answer is that each country has its pros and cons and that it's more about where you are used to. Only Egptians say that...they think it's like a world wide thing! Yea ok so you had your hay day back with the pharaohs but how about living in the here and now?

    MJ, yea humans are a creature of habit.

    American Muslimah, how interesting. lol yea They always want to know.

    Thanks Mistika.

    UmTravis. Yea, we should ask them.

  8. Oh Sister how could you prefer the States? When I found out my husband was moving us to Saudi Arabia I couldn't wait to leave Amreeka. I feel so much more at home here than in USA. When I go home to see my family, I get chills when the plane is landing. InshAllah you will find more pride and love four your beloved Masr.

  9. Maria I can't agree. I have as much pride and love for Egypt as I can and that's plenty.

  10. Nothing like people trying to force native pride down your throat!
    Look, you identify with what you know best obviously but people would rather you LIE to stroke their egos than to hear the honest truth... what's SO bad about identifying more with being American than Egyptian?

    You are who you are and because Egyptian blood run thru your veins that doesn't mean your allegiance should be to it only... I mean, like really..... the world is a big place, people... live in it!

  11. Sonia,
    I just moved from the states for almost 7 months now and I have been through the same situation you had when you saw the American tourists and I approached them with a strong feeling that these people are from home. It's strange..I used to feel the same thing when I first moved to the States 11 years ago and saw anybody from Jordan or wearing a hijab.
    Mona, very thorough post. I can elaborate on that forever. I like to stick with the old say "home is where heart is" and it is so awkward that our heart changes its place according to too many standards. I hope you ladies got my points: D

  12. Empress, so right, they want what they want to hear not the truth.

    Nalbanna, yea Same here!

  13. Well, you grew up in America, not Egypt, so it makes sense to me that you feel more familiar with and comfortable with American ways.

    It's kind of like- I will probably always feel more at home and comfortable with the South, even if I end up living in the Northwest for 30 years. I mean, the differences are not nearly as drastic but there are some major differences between the different parts of the US.

  14. Yea Designerd...good point...Even if I ultimately end up here for over the 25 yrs I spent in the US it wouldn't over power my childhood/upbringing.


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