September 15, 2011

Identity

So this lady (Egyptian) on a fb group today told me I'm not from the US. I'd mentioned it in passing, in a comment and she said  Mona  r u realy from USA??????? and I repliedEgyptian blood, born and raised in the US, living here now 9 years :). To which she replied: Egyptian BLOOD ....that not mean u r form USA. Then the mod said to take it to private message. So I wrote to her 


I was born and raised and lived only in the US until I was 25, married with kids...That means I'm from there. No on in the US has pure American blood except the Native American Indians.

She replies in Arabic, I'm like great it's gonna take me forever to read this. So I do finally and she said (translating):

I of course don't mean any harm but, those who are living in Egypt 30 years, do they consider themselves Egyptians or do they remain A German whose fluent in Arabic.  The difference in the origin or blood not by birth, or where you were raised. I was born in Mansoura (Egyptian town/city), I never lived there one day. But to those who ask, I'm saying I'm from Mansoura. I was amazed when you said  you are of America.

I'm dumbfounded at this point. I then reply:

I had a hard time reading your message, finally I did. Unfortunately, although I can speak masri very well but I'm weak in reading and writing Arabic.

You are comparing living in Mansoora as opposed to another city or town in Egypt to Egypt vs America, it's a big difference.


If an adult from Germany lives in Egypt 30 years of course they identify as a German first but if a kid comes to live here and lives many years, they will identify as Egyptian as well, as long as they are immersed in the culture and people. I have friends from Britain and Poland who are rasing their kids here and their kids are very Egyptian.


You can't decide for me what country I identify with.


I feel I can't say to people I'm Egyptian without mentioning that I'm born and raised in the US only because I want them to know if I make a mistake in speaking or don't know about certain things in Egypt it's not because I'm stupid but because I wasn't raised here.


One of the good things about the US is everyone is originally from somewhere else, and there are so many different nationalities and cultures. Kind of why I like Hurghada.


Please let me know if any of this was not understood, thanks.


 So she's yet to reply. I don't know her level of English but she's on an English group. I tried writing in Arablish like Ya3ni kida but I really couldn't handle it or get my point across. 

I think some Egyptians take offense like I'm denying my Egyptian-ness when really I'm just being honest and logical.  I don't know why this is bothering me so much. What do you think? 

16 comments:

  1. It's *sort of* similar for me [not really though]...

    I was born and lived in Indiana until I was eight; we moved to Michigan and lived there until I was 17, then moved back to Indiana. Am I a Hoosier [from Indiana] or am I a Michigander [from Michigan]? I think I identify more with being a Hoosier, simply because I was born here and all of my close family is from/lives here, but I can't deny the nine years I lived in Michigan, which happened during my formative tween/preteen/teenage years.

    It's especially difficult when people ask me where I'm from [which happens frequently since a blue-eyed hijabi is a rarity around here]. Usually they're meaning 'What's your heritage/ethnicity?', though I can't help but answer something like 'I was born and raised here [in Indiana], but I went to school in Michigan.'

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  2. Mona, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. In the US, as you know, wearing hijab automatically makes you "one of them danged foreigners". lol

    In Egypt, having been raised in the US makes you less Egyptian. I think people need to not worry how other identify themselves.

    If I labeled you, I would say you aren an Egyptian American. Egyptian first because I think your family raised you with values more common to your country of heritage. American bec well.. duh, you lived here your whole life!

    Some people just like to makes problems. Insha'allah it was just a language misunderstanding. Ma salama...

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  3. its all in the terms. ethnically you are egyptian. culturally though you are american.

    its like me - im aussie 100% but my blood isnt and will never be australian (im not aboriginal).

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  4. I doubt she would have said all this if you had said you were from India or Pakistan (no offense to either country) but I think you get what I mean

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  5. It bothers you (and me too dang it!) because she's trying to tell YOU who YOU are!! And it's all based on some patriotism she has for Egypt that she thinks you should have or don't have enough of. My kids get the same thing from small-minded teachers when they learn their mom is American..."Mama amreekia, bas babakum masri, ento masrieen ba2a.." (Your mother's american but your father's egyptian then you guys are egyptian then)...like the mom's nationality doesn't matter...or the fact that the 2 oldest were actually born in the US...AND, the fact that they ALL have US birth certificates!!! AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!

    I'm all for loving your country and all, the good of it that is, but I cannot stand patriotism that just goes over board and beyond logic.

    On another note, I hope it wasn't someone I know hehehe :-)...come to think of it she's actually more open-minded than that mashaa Allaah :-)

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  6. Panya, I get it, It's like "where are you from" becomes such a complicated question.

    Umm Aaminah, yea I'm not Egyptian enough for the Egyptians and not American enough for the Americans.


    Miss Hijabi, yea it's a lost concept on people here. Countries like the US and Australia and the UK are different in that way.

    JessyZ, Yea It's partly that and partly this way of thinking that of thinking Egyptians have like they'll ask where in Egypt are you from, and I'm like no where, and they're like no I mean your parents...how that has any relevance on who I am is a mystery but people make judgments on you depending on where your family is from, city or village, you know??

    Asiya, yea I'm not even claiming my kids can identify as American cause they're all Egyptian in their thinking and don't even remember the US,they were that young. But me it's a different story. No no, no one you know, you're right she is. :)

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  7. I know and totally understand what you mean Mona. We 'ethnics' who were born and raised in countries other than our parents all have the same issues. On top of all this identity issue, I personally have issues with belonging. I don't feel I belong to either country and I believe it's because of what people stipulate regarding nationality.

    I second Miss Hijabi, and when I am asked, I simply say "I'm an Aussie Turk" and this answer is usually accepted by everybody. I can't deny this.. although I was born and raised in Australia, my parents never fully immersed us into the society, so we do have Turkish upbringing.

    This is why I love Islam so much.. Once you say you're a Muslim, nobody can erally say "no u ain't" :)))

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  8. Some people put so much emphasis on nationality and if you say you are something else or part of something else some people get so offended. A lot of countries are like that: Syria, Serbia, China....it's not just Egyptians, it's all those countries where national pride is ingrained at a young age. It's annoying, but usually there is nothing you can do or say to change the way some people think

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  9. @ Asiya
    This happens to me too, my kids have only been to Syria once, yet in the eyes of my husband's Syrian friends they are Syrian first and British Canadian last...or sometimes that part is just ignored. I don't really think very highly of these people at all.

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  10. Edebe@Edibedesigns, it's hard being in the middle sometimes but it's also great too. You can choose the good things from both countries/cultures.

    Musilm Convert, Interesting to know, A lot of people think you can only be one thing. I hear from American converts all the time here that people can't understand them being American AND Muslim. It's really not that complicated! Culture and Religion lines blur and cause confusion in all to many ways. About your InLaws, ah, who cares what they say, they don't decide but I get that it's frustrating to hear!

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  11. oh no it's not my in laws, it's my husband's Syrian friends. MashAllah my in laws are awesome and don't seem to look at nationality in that way.

    That reminds me I had a cashier the other day asking me where I am from, I told her I was born in Canada, then she asks, "origionally where are you from?" hmmm well my mom is Hungarian by blood but born in the UK, my dad is British by blood but born in Canada.....I just told her Europe. She said she thought all Muslims come from the middle east...people still need to be educated it seems :P.

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  12. It's so funny that you posted this blog.

    I am also Egyptian by birth, but born and raised in the U.S.

    I lived in Egypt for three years, and once people heard my broken English, they would ask me where I was from. If I replied, "Egypt," the reply would be, "No, you're not." Excuse me? Don't I know where I'm from?

    If I replied, "America," they would get offended since I was supposedly denying my heritage. I just started answering like you did, "Egyptian, but raised in America."

    Even in the U.S. I sometimes get that question after I've had a conversation which clearly shows that American English is my native tongue. Usually I will just answer that I'm Egyptian, but if I'm in a particularly feisty mood, I will answer that I was born in Oklahoma, lived in New Jersey for ten years and moved here (Texas) in 2007.

    And then dare them (in my head) to ask another question.

    I think your answer is the most true, and if someone doesn't like it, they need to get over it already!

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  13. Mona, I've always thought of you as an American from Egyptian descent like I'm a South African from Malay descent...I don't identify myself as Malay as I wasn't born or bred there; can barely speak Malay, and don't identify with Malaysians...but I do know that Hubby's Egyptian family and friends have a problem with that concept though...on the whole I think the whole thing is hilarious if a tad tedious :)

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  14. your american...why does it bother her so much lol

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  15. Then by her way of thinking, no one can be considered American since we're all not Native American :p Don't let it bother you. A lot of people are hung up in pride of their nationality, I guess. You have both cultures, and that's perfectly fine :)

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  16. Muslim Convert, that is suuuuch a misconception inside and out of Islam.

    Smorsy, Yea no one is ever pleased! What can we do, really people just have to deal.

    Washi, Tedious is right.

    The Mrs, I don't know!

    Amal, exactly, it's just bad logic!

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Thanks for commenting!