Too often, we find ourselves judging others for certain behaviours or characteristics we bear ourselves. It is important, however, to be wary of our actions and not drag ourselves and our double standards to be questioned. This can be seen in the comments that have been made regarding Egyptian actor Shady Shamel’s long hair. Not only is it an attack of his appearance, but it also represents a lack of awareness of what this criticism entails. 

Shady Shamel responded critically with an extreme level of frustration at the high level of disrespect he received from haters. He started by bringing up his comparison to Abdelhalim in a visual through what he claims is cheap humour. He mentioned that the thing he hates the most is people not minding their own business. Not just that, but also how this level of hatred and criticism carries zero levels of humour.

Shamel did not stop there. He pointed out that Arab societies are living a contradiction when they claim that an “attempt to be western” is an attempt to steer away from Arab culture. He said that people do not realise that parts of ourselves and our behaviours are already shifting to the west, and so to make such a claim is to dismiss a living paradox. 

Not all aspects are western; however, some attributes, such as the way we dress, the songs we listen to, the languages we speak, the food we eat, do compare to western culture. Thereby, to criticise a person’s appearance for being “too western” is not only judgemental, but it’s also like doing something and then attacking someone for doing the same. 

The point isn’t who’s acting all western and who’s sticking his roots, it’s about respect, awareness, and most importantly, personal freedom. Criticism is what Shady Shamel asks for, to make the point without being disrespectful, but more so, not to step foot in a space that does not belong to you.

Let people be, make space, and don’t stick your nose where it’s not welcome. This is not to say don’t state your opinion, but it is to say respect the boundaries surrounding it.