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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Does Every Man in Egypt Have a Beard?

I finished another post on the blog a few minutes ago with a picture of a local brass artisan.

"But wait," you might say, "where is his beard?" After all, beards are worn by almost everyone - "I just read about it in the StarTribune!"  Sorry.  Not true.  If you go back and browse the images previously posted on this blog and look closely, you will see very few beards among the shop owners and employees.  Not at the restaurants, nor on the bannana seller or the security people at Ragab brothers.  And not in many other places, either.

That author's point about low-information voters (apparently a problem world-wide!) choosing the candidate with the beard may be true, but beards everywhere?  Not so.

So I asked around among my non-bearded English-speaking friends.  Yes there is an increase, but mostly among the government workers.  Well, that makes sense.  Remember back in the 1980's what happened after the corporate vice-president first walked into the office with a yellow power-tie?  I still have one hanging in my closet as a historical artifact.

If I were president Morsi, I wouldn't take too much comfort from the number of government employees now wearing beards.  He should be more concerned by the people standing in line to reach the government employees saying "we changed Mubarak for Morsi, but nothing else changed,"  followed by considerable laughter.  I've heard that in a couple of places.  There have always been lots of beards among the taxi drivers.  That is what the Muslim Brothers were doing before they began running the country and analyzing the causes of diarrhoea.

Still, a year or two is not a long time to track a trend.  This series of 1959-2004 pictures certainly does show a trend in women's fashion, though.

UPDATE: 2/9/2013

I started keeping closer track of the people with whom we interact.
  • The man who is going to install new windows for us.  No beard.
  • Three concrete workers along our walking path.  One beard.
  • The two bank employees where I changed money today.  No beards.
  • The security person at City Stars mall who helped the lady get her baby carriage up the escalator.  No beard.
  • The Carrefour male employees.  About 4 of a hundred had beards.
  • The four men in front of us, dressed in galibeyas, in the checkout line.  1 tiny beard among them.
  • Our new friend from in back of us in the line.  No beard.
  • Two taxi drivers that we rode with.  One beard.
  • The fellow in Carrefour from Los Angeles with the Raiders sweatshirt.  Oh, I guess he doesn't count.
Is this a good cross-section of the population?  Probably not.  All these men had jobs.  That, unfortunately, is too small a portion of the population and that fact accounts for much of the unrest.

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