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by Rhonda Spivak, April 12, 2012

In an article in the April 2012 edition of the gay magazine The Advocate, Omar Sharif Jr., the grandson of the world’s best known Arab film star, Egyptian screen icon Omar Sharif, has come out twice: He has disclosed that  he is not only gay but also that his mother is Jewish.

His grandfather Omar Sharif is famed for starring in films such as the 1965 classic Doctor Zhivago.

Omar Sharif Jr., who holds a master’s degree in comparative politics and conflict studies from the London School of Economics, moved from Egypt to Los Angeles three months ago. In his article he discusses the fate of Egypt since President Mubarak was ousted last year. He says:

-"And so I hesitantly confess: I am half Jewish, and I am gay. That my mother is Jewish is no small disclosure when you are from Egypt, no matter the year.  And being openly gay has always meant asking for trouble, but perhaps especially during this time of political and social upheaval… I write this article in fear. Fear for my country, fear for my family, and fear for myself.”

- “While to many in Europe and North America mine might seem like trivial admissions, I am afraid this is not so in Egypt. I anticipate that I will be chastised, scorned, and most certainly threatened. From the vaunted class of Egyptian actor and personality, I might just become an Egyptian public enemy. And yet I speak out because I am a patriot.”
He writes about how the Egyptian revolution has been hijacked:
“The vision for a freer, more equal Egypt – a vision that many young patriots gave their lives to see realized in Tahrir Square – has been hijacked. The full spectrum of equal and human rights are now wedge issues used by both the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces and the Islamist parties, when they should be regarded as universal truths.”
He is not nearly as hopeful as he was a year ago about Egypt becoming a more tolerant society.
"Despite the sound of gunshots in the streets and the images of Anderson Cooper being struck repeatedly over the head on CNN, I left hopeful that I would return to find a more tolerant and equal society. While I benefited from a life of privilege being Omar Sharif’s grandson, it was always coupled with the onerous guilt that such a position might have been founded upon others’ sweat and tears."
"One year since the start of the revolution, I am not as hopeful.'
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.