09 April 2006 --
Ismail Serageldin welcomed more than 320 guests who came to the Library of Alexandria to attend the two-day conference on William Shakespeare. The conference started with a keynote speech by Professor Catherine Belsey, the renowned Shakespeare scholar and famous critic. Ismail Serageldin then spoke to the audience about the universality of Shakespeare and how his works transcend geographical and temporal boundaries to address issues that we, even today, are concerned with. Using The Merchant of Venice and Othello as examples, Serageldin demonstrated how Shakespeare spoke about the marginalization of women, the discrimination against minorities, and how he brought to the forefront such important issues as racism and sexism. Serageldin also revealed the close connection that is to be found in the current situation facing Muslims in the west and the fear of the “Other” that is illustrated in how east and west view each other. The conference brought together Shakespeare scholars, professors from Alexandria, Cairo and Ain Shams universities, as well as students and admirers of the great bard.