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Reader comment on item: Confirmed: Barack Obama Practiced Islam
in response to reader comment: More fantasy from our dear Jon

Submitted by Jon Frost (Germany), Aug 11, 2008 at 17:00

Dear "dhimmi no more" (I still love the name, the way),

First off, I am flattered that you took so much time out of your busy day(s) to write me 5 new comments! That's really sweet. Thank you for your valiant attempts at educating me and convincing me that I'm a "Paki". I'm starting to believe it, myself. Cool, huh?

To return the favor, I'm going to give you two responses (one more to follow). In this one, I'll respond to some of your ideas about my thesis, language skills, and "credibility" (apparently credibility in the comment section of some blog is something worth fighting for! Oh how much I am learning from these exchanges). More will follow.

1) As I wrote before, and as you would have picked up if you could read, I: i) went to Egypt for my Master's Thesis (in Economics, on informal employment of youth), ii) conducted research (including interviews with youth in (al) Darb al Ahmar), iii) also, in my free time, looked around Cairo some, and iv) also talked to some Coptic people - out of interest. My trip to Egypt wasn't what I referred to as "out of interest" - it was the conversations with Copts, which were (with the exception of Maher) just casual conversations. If I were doing a research paper about the Copts, specifically, then I would have taken really detailed notes about them (and maybe their last names - though in practice most people doing studies like mine anonymize their informants and change their names anyway). But for normal conversations with people I ran into, I didn't pry about their last names. Do you do that when you meet people? Do they find you weird?

2) My thesis is about informal employment - which wouldn't seem to disqualify people informally employed as garbage workers. What kind of stupid argument is that? But, that wasn't the reason I was in the area, anyway. I was there to check out the church and see the area. Check that under categories iii and iv.
3) Walid's last name is Zaki. Have fun tracking him down.
4) St. Simeon the Tanner is a fairly well-known church (here, check it out: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/tanner.htm). It is part of a big complex above the Zebbaleen area. If you don't like the name Muqattam ez-Zebbaleen, then take it up with Lonely Planet - it's what they call the area where the Zebbaleen live (and my cab driver understood it just fine).
5) If we're going to get into the transliteration (or lack thereof) of the definite article, then maybe we should bring up your stubborn misspelling of "Burkina Faso" or overuse of the words "and" and "little" - as in "little 'out of interest' little trip". Not that I mind if you have poor English. I'm just saying that if you live in a glass house...
6) Thanks for the heads-up about the BBC documentary. I'll check that out.


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