A Message from the Friends of Ismail Serageldin
05 July 2010
The July 2, 2010, edition of the New York Times featured an article on Serageldin entitled “A Voice in Egypt for an Arab Age of Reason” by Michael Slackman.
We the Friends of Ismail Serageldin, who have had the honor and privilege of knowing him well, are proud to see this - on the whole - positive article about him, conveying a message of rationality and tolerance; however we are greatly surprised by several comments which are totally unjustified.
First: The article mentions that Serageldin has been described as “arrogant and condescending”; we point out however, that the gesture of public apology he extended to Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, saying, “I spoke to him in a tone that appeared to him to be dismissive, and I apologize for that”, cannot stem from arrogance.
Second: The article also states that Serageldin has been “accused of exceeding the bounds of his actual expertise”. Serageldin is in fact a genuine polymath, who possesses deep and broad encyclopedic knowledge on many issues.
Third: The article states that “If there is one thing that Mr. Serageldin is not, it is modest”, and recounts that “As he walked through the halls (of the Library of Alexandria), past the art exhibits, sculptures, supercomputers and computer archives, the hundreds of computer terminals at desks, one visitor asked, “Is this all your doing?” To which he replied, with a nod, “Yes.” . . . Well, the simple truth is, YES he did do all that. He did do everything, from writing the statutes of the Library, to building up the whole team, to creating each and every one of the many facets of the Library. He is simply and justifiably very proud that yes, he was behind the shaping of the Library of Alexandria into the amazing structure that it is today.
The Library of Alexandria P.O. Box 138 – Chatby, Alexandria 21526 , Egypt Phone: +(203)-4839999 Fax: +(203)-4820450 Email: