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Oct 14, 2009
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Egyptian Intellectual Tareq Heggy: I Support Dialogue with Israelis over the Boycotting of Israeli Goods

#2266 | 02:58
Source: ON TV (Egypt)

Following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian intellectual Tareq Heggy, which aired on ON TV on October 14, 2009.

Tareq Heggy: I am one of those who believe that religion is a great and sacred thing, but that it is only a religion. Full stop. It is not a political, economic, or cultural system. If religion is incorporated in these fields, it might lead the people to an abyss. The religious states in the world are not successful. Look at the tension between Iran and the rest of the world. All Iran’s neighbors are afraid of it. We cannot conduct a dialogue with people who mix religion with politics, economics, and culture. Why? Because they always claim to be the bearers of absolute truth.

Anyone who removes religion from the boundaries of religion reaches the state of Europe in pre-Renaissance times, when the Pope would grant people writs of indulgence, and would appoint kings and reject kings, because he believed he represented truth. Nobody represents truth. That is the point. Science shows us that anybody who thinks he is the bearer of absolute truth is wrong.

Interviewer: What is the situation here, compared to those times?

Tareq Heggy: We could be saved by means of a civil state.


Interviewer: Are you in favor of boycotting [Israeli goods] or in favor of dialogue?

Tareq Heggy: I am in favor of dialogue. I know it is unpopular to say so, but it is my duty to speak my mind clearly and honestly.


I understand it when people say that before establishing open relations [with Israel] on all fronts – like having Israeli film festivals here, having Israelis at the [Cairo] Book Fair, and having full cooperation, like between Cyprus and Turkey – the Palestinian-Israeli conflict must be resolved. I understand this [position], but this does not apply to a situation where Dr. Hala [Mustafa] meets the Israeli ambassador in her office.


I firmly believe that the Arab countries surrounding Israel have the right to refuse to conduct trade with it like other countries, until the Palestinian issue is resolved. But we cannot reach a situation where a newspaper editor cannot meet... This is a form of militarization of culture. It is inconceivable that an [Egyptian] intellectual cannot meet with an Israeli author. Look how we are making fools of ourselves.

Take the Israeli intellectual [Amos] Oz, who may be receiving a Nobel Prize this year. The Supreme Council of Culture has decided to translate his writings – but not from the Hebrew. They decided to translate from the English translation. What is this? Are you being serious? Are you making a fool of yourself or of the people? You are saying you will translate Oz from the French, not the Hebrew? What’s the difference if you translate his writings from Hebrew or French?

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