Reporters on the Job

Religion in Egypt: When reporting on sectarian conflict in the Arab world, you have to choose your interpreter carefully. Contributor Ursula Lindsay didn't bring an interpreter on her reporting trip to Alexandria, Egypt.

"In some ways, covering this story was easier as an outsider. If I were an Egyptian journalist, people would have asked me right off if I was Christian or Muslim and reacted to the questions according to my religion. The same would happen if I had used an Egyptian interpreter. I know enough Arabic to get by in this case," she says.

Ursula identified herself as an American journalist, and only if asked did she say she worked for the Monitor. "Most people I interviewed said that Christians and Muslims get along well. One said, "There are no Muslims or Christians, only honest and dishonest Egyptians."

Later, she and a colleague went into a shop where both Muslims and Christians were present. She heard the same story. But after they left, one of the Christian men followed them out. "We are under their shoes," he told the two reporters. "Particularly among Christians, there's often one discourse in public, and another in private," says Ursula.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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