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December 5, 2002

Knight without a Horse:
The Lesson is Over Stupid!

Dr. Mohamed Mosaad

Twenty-two Arab TV channels broadcast the infamous soap opera “Knight Without A Horse” each day. On the other side of the Atlantic, the greatest power in the world declares its total rejection of this racist soap opera and demands that Arab countries stop broadcasting it. Courageously, the Arab countries defy the American decision and show the episodes one after the other. On the other hand, the Arab peoples, following the leadership of their intelligentsia, burst out in an amazing demonstration of solidarity with the work and its heroes, especially the knight Sobhi. In this article, I try to shed some light on six scenes and their significance, as revealed by this battle.

The first scene is certainly made for the knight Sobhi. Sobhi started his life as a comedian with some farce works like "Ali Bek Mazhar" and "The Lesson is Over Stupid," which revealed a potentially good comedian without giving him a full exposure. The great shift in Sobhi’s life came when he merged his talent with the writings of the distinguished and creative playwright Lenin El Ramli. This collaboration made it possible for them to produce together a sequence of wonderful works that Arabs have been applauding to this day.

After the separation of this successful duo, Sobhi realized that the large audience which used to come to see the performances, expects not only his superior acting,, but also the thoughtful writings of Lenin. Incredibly, Sobhi thought writing is so easy, that he decided to write his own materials. He wrote the second and third parts of the Wanees Family soap opera as well as the current work, "Knight without a Horse." Though Sobhi, I think, has failed dramatically, we should not blame him alone. We must blame the critics who praised his ethical motives in the first work and his national outcry in his second work, ignoring their duty to criticize his failings and to warn him against repeating this unsuccessful adventure. Do these long boring monologues, which Sobhi keeps parroting while talking to his family to teach them ethics and discipline, have something to do with good dramatic writing? It seems that rather than interactive drama, Sobhi writes these long speeches to deliver to the rest of actors, whom Sobhi uses in the same manner as he uses the décor. The only hero, the only speaker and the only “knight” in the work is always Sobhi. Why is it that not even one critic has criticized him or explained the basic principles of writing that Sobhi has violated?

The reason seems to be that principles, values and national ethics became a veil to cover the failings. The failing politician hides his failure behind his patriotism. The failing economist hides his failure behind his advocacy of the poor and the workers. The incompetent general hides behind a supposed global conspiracy against him. The vacuous intellectual hides behind his resistance to normalization. The poor singer hides behind his hatred to Israel… Dear Mr. Failure, stop using and exploiting our national feelings and our wounds, of which you are the sole cause.

The second scene is the wonderful resistance, with which we fight the tyrants and defend our civilization. The heroic knight, Sobhi, comes back from Iraq after giving the Knight of “The Mother of Battles” his new great work. Two hundred artists and intellectuals rush to a meeting to enthusiastically support and show solidarity with Sobhi, the knight. The newspapers trumpet our insistence to challenge the United States and to defeat her by broadcasting the soap opera. What heroism and what sacrifice are they indeed! This painful scene indicates the magnitude of the horrible hypocrisy we are all drowning in. We announce that we will watch this soap opera’s episodes one by one, for we will never forget your children Iraq, and we will never forget your children Palestine. We are with you through our TVs after "Iftar," the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Yes, the governments have their obligations, but we, the peoples, have our stands, which will never be fettered by a treaty or a decision. Governments can sign treaties that would bring back our lands and protect us from the evils of wars. Nevertheless, we will have our stands that will shake up all the TV screens from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf.

The third scene shows the Arab World speaking about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In fact the world witnessed this same scene once before, only one hundred years ago. The bitter indication is that we are one hundred years behind in history. Do we, in the twenty-first century, need someone to tell us that these Protocols are not real? How many hundreds of years do we need before we recognize the Holocaust, of which we are the only deniers? How many centuries will pass till we stop singing the same boring song of the colonization that robbed us? Egypt is independent since 1924 and completely free for the last fifty years, when she got rid of her royal regime and replaced it with a republican one. Do we still need to cite the colonization and the Jews as the reason of our defeats, crises and backwardness? Do we believe that the reason for spreading unemployment, robbed banks, fraudulent elections and failing planning is the colonization or the Jews? Our schools toppled to earth in the earthquake because of the colonization? Our industry is crippled because Sultan Selim transferred the clever handicrafts to Istanbul half a millenium ago, as we were taught in the schools? This year China increased its exports, even though the world is witnessing an economic recession. Chinese exports this month are one third greater than they were in same month last year. Does the US, our supposed enemy that is blocking our progress, fear the Arabs and fight them more than she fights China? Why have they succeeded while we failed? Will the same reason explain all our problems and our crises, and for how long?

The fourth scene is the mythical thinking that manipulates and controls our minds. Knight without a Horse is like the old time childrens' fairy tales. The evil is absolutely evil; the righteous is absolutely righteous. On the other hand, the hero, the inspired knight, has no limits to his skills and his capabilities, an unprecedented fox with one thousand faces. The villains conspire, controlling and manipulating the world. The good people are so naïve and kind, always subject to the conspiracy of the villains. The problem with this scene is that it reflects our childish vision of the world. It deprives the events of their causes as much as it deprives the actors of their responsibilities. The villains conspire because they are evil. We are defeated and subjected because we are good and innocent. They have no motivation other than a mythical one; and we have no culpability other than our inattention. It is our destiny and their destiny. Our way to victory is that inspired extraordinary superman, the knight!

The fifth scene is staged in our media and newspapers. We have all rallied to sing the same national song. The issue here is not the content of the song, but its being only one song. Had it happened in any other region, people would have dealt with it very differently. The work would have been criticized from different angles and views and would have been meshed with other important political, economical and social debates to deepen the discussions and change their frameworks and contexts. Rallying to just tickle the masses and win another easy and lovely war whose victory is already guaranteed is but a big deception of our people. I can understand a demagogic politician chasing votes, but I can not understand a demagogic intellectual. The slogan that says the honest intellectual should express the feelings of the masses is really a silly one. Honest intellectuals are honest to themselves, guarding their conscience, and speaking the truth that they believe in, no matter how people may see it. This scene reveals a crowd of intellectuals who have been running after the masses for long decades and have suddenly awakened to a world which they don’t understand. They unfortunately decided to keep screaming their ancient slogans that will no longer convince the masses.

The sixth and last scene is the one of surprise. The Egyptians were surprised by an angry world objecting their soap opera. And the world was surprised that the Egyptians are surprised! Yes, the real surprise is that the Egyptians never expected this reaction. They were surprised for three reasons. First, the world does not believe in our dogmas that the Holocaust never happened and that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a genuine book through which we can understand international politics. We finally discovered that we, only we, believe these dogmas. Second, we believe the whole matter is really not worthy of the attention of the greatest power in the world and of coverage by the most famous newspapers. What is the significance of an Arabic soap opera? We are surprised because it is we who invented these expressions of “newspaper talk" and “soap-opera episodes" to say it is nonsense. We, only we, believe that what we read in the newspapers or what we watch on the TV is nonsense. The world around us knows that media are important. The world around knows that what is published here or broadcast there could revive racism or propagate extremism and terrorism. Third, we believe it is all an “internal business,” and that no outsider should stick their nose in it. This belief, indeed, has been invalid since Ben Laden and his colleagues sent their planes to crash into the twin towers of New York and the courtyard of the Pentagon. What is happening in our country, or their countries, does matter to “them” and to “us”. Moreover, our political and economic conditions, which we consider to be “internal business,” profoundly depend on our external image as a moderate pro-peace country in the region. This image we need to support it and that episode completely destroys it!

Mohamed Mosaad



Dr Mosaad is an Egyptian psychiatrist, sociologist, educator and  peace activist. His is coordinator of the Abrahamic Forum,  and member of the Abrahamic Forum Council, an International Interfaith  dialog. He is a member of the Global Council of the United Religons Initiative URI.  He may be reached at .

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