The following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian playwright 'Ali Salem:
'Ali Salem: Most of the Arab leaders have used the Palestinian cause in order to divert attention from their abuse of human [rights]. We in the Arab region should make it clear to everybody: Nothing is more important than human rights. The time has come for all those living in this region to enjoy their life like all the people in the modern world. We are not inferior to them, and I don't want to be a racist and say that we are better than them. I don't want to say that. But with all due modesty, we aren't inferior to them, not in thought, science, or history, and I don't want to say that we are better. By the way, the [Islamists] didn't go fight in Afghanistan only to discover that they must fight the Americans, the West, and their own rulers. No. The truth is that they fight "infidels," and that's it. Their war is religious. They don't have a political plan of any kind.
We aren't threatened by America and Israel. We are going our way. We are threatened by terrorist groups, because we move forward. Egypt has begun moving towards political and economic freedom. We are not afraid of Israel, America, or anyone else. We deal with people according to our interests and their interests. If there's common ground, we do it together. We have no fear of someone preventing us from acting. There is a real problem…
Interviewer: But Mr. 'Ali, isn't Egypt neutral in this conflict?
'Ali Salem: Do you mean Egypt is neutral because it signed a peace treaty?
'Ali Salem: And all the rest aren't neutral? What do you mean by neutral? We got our lands back and we move on. Do we have to fight forever? We will not fight forever! We got our lands back through war and peace and these are our borders.
Interviewer: Isn't Egypt interested in what is happening in Palestine?
'Ali Salem: How can you say this? The Egyptian government, for the past three years, has been working to convene the Palestinian leaders in order to agree on the basics for negotiations with the Israeli government. Can we do more than this? What can we do more?