A Momentary Iranian

by Patrick Appel

Graeme Wood has an insightful new dispatch on being detained for having an Iranian stamp in his passport. He muses that Egypt's new vice president, Omar Suleiman,"probably knew the consequences of his word choice" when "he said this afternoon that 'foreign agents' might have instigated the demonstration against his boss Hosni Mubarak":

The men ultimately delivered me to a government building on the Nile, where a man in a police uniform spoke English and confirmed that I was either a native English speaker with an accent appropriate to his nationality, or an Iranian with an unusually effective ESL teacher. He guessed the former and let me go, but not before telling me by way of apology that there are "foreign people in the crowds who want to create danger and kill Egyptians." He said roadblocks and crowds along the corniche were advised to hunt down "Iranians, Hizbullah, Qataris, Hamas, and" -- because why not? -- "Israelis."

I suppose this list of suspects has some logic to it. Iran hates Egypt enough to have named a main Tehran thoroughfare after Khaled El Islambouli, the Egyptian artillery officer who gunned down Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat (and injured Mubarak in the process). Qatar's Al Jazeera is indeed pro-demonstration. And Egypt is no friend of Hamas. 

In any case, the net is wide, and purposefully so. Foreigners are under attack, not just journalists. A stroll down the corniche has never been so frightening.