Egypt: A Dog Named Anwar El Sadat

Do they have some plans in the Western media and cultural scene to tease us all the time? Do they really like creating controversies in our streets? Or, is it the fact that we are too sensitive that makes us an easy target? Are we really too sensitive and love to overreact all the time? I really don't know, but certainly no one here likes to see a dog named after him. It's considered an insult here. And even if the dog is named after a controversial president like Anwar El-Sadat, who was both praised and cursed at the same time across the whole Arab world, many people here aren't expected to be pleased after seeing a dog named after him in the movie I love you man.

Adham wrote here:

المشهد من فيلم
i love you man
عبارة عن صديقين و كلب ماشيين فى شارع , صديق صاحب الكلب سأله عن اسم الكلب
رد عليه وقاله : أنور السادات على اسم رئيس مصر
استغرب الصديق و قاله و ده علشان انت معجب بسياساته؟!
قاله لأ لأن الكلب ده يشبه الرئيس المصرى بالضبط !
انتهى المشهد
الملاحظ ان المشهد لا يحتوى على اى اهانة للرئيس المصرى الراحل ( على حسب عادات الامريكان ) بدليل ان اول احتمال بدر لذهن صديقه ( هو اعجابه بسياسات انور السادات )
لكن بالنسبة لنا كمصريين التشبيه بالكلب اهانة لا تغتفر!
A scene from the movie, “I Love you man“.
Two friends and a dog walking down the street, and one of them asks the other about the dog's name.
The dog owner replies, Anwar El-Sadat: it's named after the Egyptian president.
The guy was amazed and asks the dog owner if it is because he likes the Egyptian president and his policies.
But the dog owner replies: “No, it's just because it looks like him”
The scene is over.
According to the America customs, it is not really considered as an insult, especially that the first thought to pop in the guy's mind, was that it is named after El-Sadat because his owner likes his policies.
Yet, we – as Egyptians – consider it an unforgettable insult to be compared to a dog.

Zeinobia also wrote about the same scene here:

Now despite it has been screened from several months , it will cause an uproar in Egypt after its deliberate insult to late President

She then continued:

May be it is funny in the States but for us this is a huge insult even if it were not for an icon like Sadat ,so you can imagine it when it comes to one of our rulers.

She then wondered, how are we supposed to react to a scene like this one.

Cutting off this scene from the film to be screened in Egypt did not hide our mistake and insult against this man , if this film was truly screened in Egypt, then Ali Abu Shady, the head of censorship should apologize to the Egyptian people and the family of President Sadat not to mention the least thing he can do is to resign.

Where is the Egyptian Embassy in the United States from this insult ?? Where are our Egyptian community from this insult against our President ?? Or they only move when it comes to Mubarak !!??
I swear I will be as angry as now if they call it Nasser or Naguib or even Mubarak.
It is not an overreaction or over sensitivity , yes East is East and West is West , I remember that many Americans did not like when that company produced a monkey doll on the shape of Obama. This is the same issue.

I hope this time the widow of President Sadat not only his daughter Rakia will do something this time ?? !! Or will she consider it a freedom of expression thing !!?? Well I know that one thing for sure is that Rakia Al-Sadat may sue the production company DreamWorks pictures, its director John Hambrug and its writer Larry Levin “ Hamburg co-wrote with him the screenplay”.
Of course I know that DreamWorks Pictures is owned by Steven Spielberg , the legendary director that usually is considered a Zionist in our media , I think many including me will consider this film another insult to Egypt and Egyptians in his long list of films he directed and produced. ‘The list is too long to be honest’

Syrian Anas Qtiesh had a different point of view, and here left a comment on Zeinobia's post discussing his stand against conspiracy theories:

I highly doubt that Steven Spielberg has an anti-Egyptian agenda! I mean come on, Hollywood is all about business, how much money a movie will make. Aren't we over the conspiracy theories already? I know arabs are often protrayed in the worst way possible in Holywood movies (there are movies like “The 13th Knight” and “Kingdom of Heaven” that were fair)
In the end it's all about making the big bucks.
One more thing, “our rulers” are not prophets, and they are not iconicnal characters cannonized beyond mistakes, being a ruler is a high ranked government job. A ruler is a civil servant..
As arabs we know that our worst enemies are our rulers, why are we still defending them?

Jillian York also left a comment there discussing the American's point of view, and how they do not consider such thing as an insult:

Even if that was Spielberg's intent (which I highly, highly doubt), do you really think this would register as an insult amongst most Americans? They barely know that Egyptians are Arab, or where Egypt is, let alone who Sadat is. And calling someone a dog in the US? Not really an insult.
I really don't get where you're going with this.

And a third comment from Mido – aka Adham, wondering if censorship is really a good decision:

المفروض نبقى ضد الحجب و المنع يا زنوبيا
مش نقول فين الرقابة و فين ابو شادى؟
السادات و ناصر و مبارك ليسوا ايقونات او رموز
و حتى اهانتهم ليست اهانة لوطن عمره الالاف السنين
و اهانة بوش لم تعتبر اهانة لأمريكا
Zeinobia, we are supposed to be against censorship. instead of looking for Abu Shady to cut or censor a part of the movie.
Sadat, Nasser, and Mubarak, are not icons nor symbols. and insulting them isn't an insult to a many thousands years old nation. Just like insulting Bush isn't considered as an insult to the United States.

And finally, Will at KABOBfest wrote a post about the same scene here:

The Egyptian blogosphere — namely Egyptian Chronicles and Masrawy — is starting to raise objections to the name of a dog in the Hollywood film, ‘I Love You, Man.’ The dog’s name is Anwar Sadat. A character explains the dog is named for his resemblance to the former Egyptian president (not, thankfully, out of admiration for his policies, as another character asks).
Let’s not get carried away though.
The bloggers are offended though for different reasons. Masrawy puts it in the context of anti-Arab portrayals in Hollywood, which tends to depict Arabs as terrorists or barbarians. Egyptian Chronicles focuses more on the insult it is to an Egyptian national symbol, and she notes that any Egyptian leader’s name shared by a dog would be a national insult. She also compares this to the outrage over the Obama-monkey dolls and argues the film should be censored.

He then continues:

I have often seen anti-Arab racism expressed through name-calling, but rarely are they called dogs in the United States. Actually, “dog” in the United States is not really an insult. It is actually a term of endearment (spelled “dawg”).

It should be noted that in the United States, people treat their dogs better than they treat their children. This is why someone here will demean another by calling him a “child.” Naming dogs after people is often seen as an honorific. So there can be cultural disconnect over the dog issue.
In this movie, though, it is clearly to mock Sadat and elicit cheap laughs. But I am not sure it is intended to demean Arabs. I am not even sure if most viewers know that Sadat or Egyptians are Arab.

Another reason I am not offended is that many Arabs have called Sadat “kelb,” I am sure, and I have called him worse names. Is this a case of ‘we can trash them but other cannot’?


  • There is a serious cultural disconnect here. Most dogs in the US are given ordinary names: Max, Joe, Bella, Mary…. and no one ever takes offense at the fact that a dog and a person share a name. I’ve bred working dogs in Egypt and we were always very careful to give them English names: Vinnie, Al, Groucho, Fred, Ginger and so on. Occasionally I’ve managed to give a dog a name that someone then informs me is an Arabic name, as in the case of my Dane who I called by a Welsh name Morgana, only to be informed that this was the favourite wife of Haroun el Rashid. Mea culpa, but it also fits her on that score as she’s a pretty pampered lady. I get totally ticked off with foreigners who come to Egypt and expect to find the same customs and traditions as the USA, France or Germany. In this case, I have to find fault here in Egypt. Relax a bit. Nothing at all was intended. I have a donkey named George W. and no one from the US Embassy has filed a complaint although plenty have visited the farm and met him.

  • I still find it amusing that there’s this disconnect in the Middle Eastern mindset – well reflected in the blogosphere, which is really just a cross-section of actual citizens – between outrage over actual, pressing issues and outrage over imagined attacks on a misplaced sense of ill-deserved pride.

    It speaks volumes of the sorry state of our nations now, and makes plainly self-evident the sideshow-esque image of ourselves we show to the world, when we spill more ink (or bytes) about a glancing reference to a dead president’s name in some romantic comedy than about the stack of humans rights violations our unelected ‘leaders’ are committing in our name.

    If we’re too sensitive and overly proud, it’s only because we’ve become sensitized to the fact that we don’t really have all that much to be proud about.

  • Ronnie

    Here in Atlanta, Ga., USA, we use to have an ape at our zoo named Willie B. He was named after Willie B. Hartsfield, a former beloved Mayor of our city. It was done in honor of him. Our airport also bears his name. To call someone a dog in the Arab world is an insult, so I can understand why they would take it the wrong way. Here in the USA, to call someone a son of a bitch is an insult because a bitch is a female dog. We still name our dogs after people we like or maybe we just like the name. I was given a puppy years ago that I called Charcoal because he was mostly black He was a mix of Pitt Bull, Rottweiller and German Shephard. My cousin who was a fan of Kadaffi began using that name when referring to my puppy. Guess what? Everyone else, including myself began referring to my puppy using that name. I was not a fan of Kadaffi, but to me that name referred to someone who was fearless. When we name mascots for our sports teams it is considered politically incorrect these days to use names like Braves or Indians because some Native Americans are offended by these terms. We choose mascot names of people or animals we view as brave and/or beautiful. I am a Black man in America. I would not be offended if someone named their dog Mandingo or Mandinka after a tribe of valient warriors from Africa. Or how about calling a sports team by one of those names? I would feel honored.

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