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AiryBri
01-12-2011, 07:34 AM
I'm writing a book about Cairo, Egypt. I've never been. If any of you ever have, what's it like? More specifically, I want to know how strict their laws on prostelyzing outside of Islam are, and how hostile some members of society can be to tourists.

I'm also having a tough time creating original, unique characters, with interesting traits that are from the middle east/egypt, any ideas?

And if anyone knows personal stuff about qu'ranism, I want to talk to you! :D

waylander
01-12-2011, 01:24 PM
Egypt isn't monolithically Islamic, there is a sizable minority of Coptic Christians

Priene
01-12-2011, 02:31 PM
You get mobbed by people trying to sell you things, but they're not remotely unfriendly. Cairo is a vast, jumbled metropolis overflowing with people and sights and smells. It's got ancient mosques, a unique museum, huge shantytowns and a restaurant which only serves (http://www.nileguide.com/destination/cairo/restaurants/abou-tarek-koshary-restaurant/338770) one dish. The whole city is overwhelming.

Niguib Mahfouz's books have great Egyptian characters, by the way.

AiryBri
01-12-2011, 07:43 PM
Egypt isn't monolithically Islamic, there is a sizable minority of Coptic Christians

I know that there are other religions, but I read somewhere it's illegal to try and spread any other type of religion there aka, convert Islamists to something else. And the vast majority is Islam.

And I know that there are a lot of friendly people in Egypt, I'm not racist or anything. I just know what friendly foreigners are like, I don't have much personal experience with unfriendly ones.

PrincessofPersia
01-14-2011, 03:29 AM
According to the US State Department, Egypt is 90% Muslim and 9% Coptic, with the remaining 1% comprised of other forms of Christianity and other religions. However, the verisimilitude of this is uncertain.

As far as religious freedom goes, it is guaranteed by the constitution; however, it is difficult in practice. There are degrees of persecution against the Copts, Baha'i, and atheists. Indeed, the Baha'i faith is not recognized by the government, and atheists risk legal difficulty under apostasy laws. Converts from other religions to Islam are recognized, but the opposite is unfortunately not true.

Indeed, the Copts arguably have it the worst. There are terrorist attacks against churches and individuals, the government often withholds permits from their religious institutions, and many in the Muslim community use positions of power to persecute them. However, it is not a universal hatred. In fact, Muslims have been killed protecting Copts against attacks. It is a tense and unfortunate situation.

Insofar as proselytizing goes, the Coptic community generally tries to dissuade--or at the very least, does not actively seek out--converts to avoid the problems mentioned above.

KQ800
01-14-2011, 07:48 PM
I'm writing a book about Cairo, Egypt. I've never been. If any of you ever have, what's it like? More specifically, I want to know how strict their laws on prostelyzing outside of Islam are, and how hostile some members of society can be to tourists.

I'm also having a tough time creating original, unique characters, with interesting traits that are from the middle east/egypt, any ideas?

And if anyone knows personal stuff about qu'ranism, I want to talk to you! :D

The unfriendly bit is that egyptians have sold stuff cheap to foreigners for two thousand years at least, and they are VERY good at it. You will get cheated, but mostly the "cheat" will be that you get what you want at a price agreed upon, but you will find out that the prize could have been very much lower if you knew how to bargain.

There are very very few egyptians that will treat a tourist badly in the sense of being aggressive or threatening. Tricking the tourist however is a different matter.

A favourite trick among grey market taxi drivers in Hurghada was to offer you even change for a fifty, even if the fare was far less than the change. Then they would switch the fifty pound bill for a fifty piaster bill and claim that you gave them the wrong denomination, getting fifty pounds plus the fare :)

Another classic is to driver a tourist to a different place than he wants and claim that the car needs gas or something, and offer you to wait in his good friends establishment which happens to be just next to the garage...

When the driver tried this with us, and we shouted in chorus: "Camel is thirsty!"* He just laughed and drove us to the destination. My (very limited) experience is that they treat monetary interaction like a sort of sport, where good humour and grace in defeat can result in a much better offer the next time you meet with that person.

*Apparently the name for the trick.

Kewii
01-22-2011, 04:20 PM
I live in the Middle East and have been to Cairo (and developed the Cairo cough!) My partner also lived there for a while.

Like others have said, for the most part, the locals are very friendly to tourists. However, a lot of them will be asking for Baksheesh after they help you out. (This is asking for a tip). People will also ask for baksheesh without having done anything.

You will always meet some people who are not as friendly. My friend had snot rubbed her by one tourist who didn't like the way she was dressed (as a note, she was dressed fairly modestly, just not completely covered).

I have to second the tricking the tourist thing as well. If they think they can get a bit of money out of you, they will try. You'll end up very frustrated if you don't play along.

If you have any other questions, I can try to help :)