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Middle East

Trump, Through an Egyptian Lens

Open Source

By ROBERT MACKEY DEC. 21, 2015

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    For Mohamed Abdelfattah, an Egyptian filmmaker who moved to Arizona four months ago to live near his wife’s family, the media frenzy around the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump has been a central part of his introduction to life in the United States.

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    At @Cronkite_ASU now watching the #gopdebate with journalism students. Lots of laughs.

    — Mohamed Abdelfattah (@mfatta7) Sept. 17, 2015

    That Mr. Trump’s campaign has focused chiefly on the perceived threat posed by immigrants, including those from Muslim lands, has made the whole thing a good deal more personal than it might have been otherwise.

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    I have no idea why Islamist groups and the Western far-right hate each other? They are each other's best ally. Amazing mutual validation.

    — Mohamed Abdelfattah (@mfatta7) Dec. 8, 2015

    So last week, when Mr. Trump staged a rally at an airport outside Phoenix, Mr. Abdelfattah decided that this might be as good a time as any to begin a personal project he had been planning since he arrived: an episodic video blog about his first year in America.

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    “America and I,” the first episode of an Egyptian filmmaker’s video diary about living in the United States. Mohamed Abdelfattah, via YouTube

    Working in a style inspired by Louis Theroux, the British filmmaker whose documentaries revolve around his attempts to make sense of his subjects, Mr. Abdelfattah grabbed a microphone and described the spectacle outside the rally, in Arabic and in English, to a camera wielded by his wife, Jenny Montasir, an Egyptian-American video journalist.

    In the concise, funny, seven-minute portrait of the campaign event, Mr. Abdelfattah, 28, spoke with supporters of the candidate, including Jon Ritzheimer, a former Marine, who organized an armed protest at a Phoenix mosque in May, and brandished a gun in a Facebook video last month as he disparaged Syrian refugees and President Obama.

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    Earlier today at Trump's rally: - "Hi. I'm a journalist from Egypt. My name is Mohamed" - "Are you a Muslim" pic.twitter.com/axnHTlGjlh

    — Mohamed Abdelfattah (@mfatta7) Dec. 17, 2015

    Mr. Abdelfattah, who is originally from Alexandria but lived in Cairo throughout the upheaval of the past five years, said in an interview that his aim was to portray life in America “as if I’m talking to my friends back in Egypt.”

    He added that while “my intention is not to portray just bad or stupid things,” the impact of the Trump campaign on his first months here was just impossible to ignore.

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