He is that Egyptian giant intellect who has delved in various cultures and religions, and who has gone beyond the traditional view of highly esteeming the West to look with respect to the East.
He is the Egyptian encyclopedic writer Anwar Abdel Malek who took the Silk Road until China. He always had a deep vision, renewed thought and a spirit that does not accept defeat. He fought intellectual battles and faced challenges valiantly. And he was always proud of his being Egyptian, wishing his homeland look deeply beyond events and analyze beyond dimensions.
When I was the ambassador in Vienna and the resident representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency in the mid-nineties, I was asked to invite a prominent figure to give a speech before the Egyptian International Festival in the Austrian capital. So I invited Dr. Malek, the Egyptian to the core, although he lived for years in Paris.
He believed that modernity did not necessarily mean westernization, as
the civilization of the East has a huge heritage that could support its future. And he impressed everyone in the Austrian capital when he talked about the past and the future in fluent English.
When he asked me to look after his daughter with his Austrian wife who lives on the outskirts of Vienna, I felt a father’s love of his daughter, irrespective of distance.
I remember when I was Director of the Institute of Diplomatic Studies in 1994 that Minister of Foreign Affairs Amr Moussa called to ask me if I read Dr. Malek’s articles on the Silk Road in Al-Mosawar magazine. I told him that I did, and that I invited him to give a lecture to the diplomats at the institute. The minister and I then kept talking about Dr. Malek’s intellectual status in Egypt and internationally.
Dr. Malek has the depth of philosophers and a mix of the cultures and civilizations of the East and the West. Many of his friends - including myself - wanted him to hold a monthly salon in Cairo for us to learn from him. The most enthusiastic about the idea was Dr. Sadek Abdel Al of the Faculty of Medicine, who is also interested in the environment and in politics.
I must say that Dr. Malek is not appreciated enough in his country, and that the new generations did not benefit enough from him, although he is willing to talk to all cultural circles.
While Al-Ahram publishes his articles regularly, the Egyptian universities and the public and private media did not give him the hospitality that he deserves and that he never sought for. We must swim in the seas of the modern thought of that 80-year-old intellect, even if we would be swimming against the tide.
History is driven by unconventional ideas like Dr. Malek’s that illuminate the paths of nations and peoples for the better. I call for honoring that man with awards and with memberships in the major cultural institutions of Egypt. He has worked hard to give his experience to the next generations. And Egypt has always remained the focus of his attention