Study Guide

A Border Passage Injustice

By Leila Ahmed

Injustice

Oh, where to start? Ahmed and her family suffer at the hands of colonial powers and from spiteful domestic politics. It takes a while for Ahmed (who loves all things British) to understand that the British really don't have a high opinion of Egyptians—and will do anything to keep them down.

And we mean anything, from massacres to bombings to more subtle and sustained programs of oppression (i.e., not allowing Egyptians to enter professions that will help them independently develop their economy).

This unfair treatment is enough for Ahmed without having to deal with racial prejudice in England and America, inflicted on her for being Arab—a designation foisted on her by colonial powers looking out for self-interest.

This is to say nothing of her position as a woman in a male-dominated society (and profession), striving to fulfill personal and professional ambitions in a hostile environment. Yet Ahmed keeps working to find the vocab that will help her and others talk about these prejudices and transform the way we think about them.

Questions About Injustice

  1. Why does Ahmed's family suffer such a change in fortune?
  2. Why is graduate school such a major change for Ahmed?
  3. What does Ahmed mean when she says that she and other Egyptians didn't really have the concept of social justice until after the revolution?
  4. What kinds of misconceptions and prejudices does Ahmed have to face when she goes to Cambridge? What about in America?

Chew on This

Ahmed (and other Egyptians) often failed to notice prejudice because they didn't fully grasp the sense of racial superiority felt by many Westerners.

Ahmed's anger over injustices in her past is tempered by reflection and analysis. She learns that injustice has two sides: the unjust acts themselves and the reasons or conditions that motivate them.