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March 5, 2013

Khalil al-Shazly Married Saturday!

Roy Meachum

The wedding notice came in the form of an Evite. Khalil wanted to inform me he was marrying Hadou Samih from Morocco; in Arabic, the Maghreb. You’ve seen his name before in


Mr. al-Shazly was the president of Frederick Islamic Society during the time of the worst governmental act of religious bigotry I’ve ever witnessed. John L. “Lenny” Thompson was the president of the Board of County Commissioners when the society bought a property south of the city, believing water rights came with it. They wanted to build a house of worship, a school and a much-needed cemetery.


The county commissioners quickly assured local Muslims they were wrong. After September 11, 2001, Khalil fended off the FBI and local xenophobia. Ignoring the hate mail my Frederick News-Post column received, I luxuriated in the reputation bigots awarded me. The police began several investigations of the society; they came up empty handed.


My Egyptian friend invited the special agent in charge of the Baltimore FBI office to the same room where his wedding was held Mayor Jennifer Dougherty welcomed the society into the city; they refashioned a mosque out of an existing building on Key Parkway, which they extended to a pavilion.


Saturday there was a goodly crowd, lots of dancing – especially among men, in the Arabic fashion. Many of the guests had families that boasted of their Palestinian ties. I sat at a table with the imam who signed the marriage certificates, because he presided over the ceremony. His lovely wife was born in Chicago, their children in Maryland and the father is from Kuwait; they were all Palestinians. The girl and boy are twins; they celebrate their 4th birthday in early April.


As I’ve written before, a collection of guilt is responsible for thrusting a Jewish nation into the former Ottoman Empire. When I was in the Army, the German edition of The Stars and Stripes published numbers of accounts of atrocities against our wartime ally, Great Britain; the biggest disaster came when the right-wing extremist, Irgun, bombed the King David Hotel, slaying Britons, Muslims, Jews, and Armenians – according to the death list. The key element in the foundation of Israel was recognition by Harry S Truman, who knew so damned little about the Middle East.


Washington has given Tel Aviv blank checks ever since with the exception of Dwight David Eisenhower, who ordered the powers that occupied the Suez Canal – Great Britain, France and the Jewish state – to withdraw. My empathy with Christians and Muslims dates back to the Six-Day War, when Israelis forcefully demonstrated they were out to conquer the entire region.


Khalil understands that; I also lived a long time in his native Cairo. At one point Saturday evening, he ordered me to dance with him. He also enticed former Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine to the floor. As far as I saw, Kim and I were the only khawagas (foreigners) in the hotel ballroom.


About his bride (arrousa, in Egyptian), Hadou Samih, she is a charming lady; Khalil seemed younger around her, surrounded by all his friends.


The Arabic word is mabruq: Congratulations to them.


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