Egyptian Star Amr Waked Reflects on Paris Attacks: ‘We Are Far Braver’ Than Terrorists

Amr Waked
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Amr Waked is Egypt’s biggest international star, seen most recently playing the French cop in Luc Besson’s “Lucy” and as Yusof, the Khan’s Vice Regent, in Netflix TV series “Marco Polo.” He is also a producer of Arab films, including political drama “Winter of Discontent,” set against the backdrop of the Tahrir Square protests. Waked spoke to Variety about his reflections regarding the Paris terrorist attacks.

Aside from the shock, what are some of your reactions and thoughts about the terrorism in Paris?

Terrorism tries to collapse societies through threats that destroy confidence and courage and faith in the social fabric. And they use hate as part of their scheme to make societies not just hurt, but also self-implode. The most important thing we should be focusing on is not to cave in against fear and hate. We have much more love, and are far braver than people who are snatching an opportunity to kill civilians who have nothing to do with any conflict whatsoever.

Does this kind of climate affect what you do as an Arab actor?

Of course it does. It affects the types of roles you get offered. It signals that I might be getting more terrorist roles, while instead I want to be playing more ordinary Muslim characters. This is what we need to put at the frontline of the media: that the vast overwhelming majority of Arabs are normal, and are fighting with all of you for the same cause.

As a producer, you have been active in delving into the roots of political violence in Egypt. Do you feel that there is something that can be done about the type of violence we saw most recently in Paris?

It’s very difficult for me to know how to stop this. But If we could manage to create an environment of true justice in the Middle East, with all its cases of injustice and conflict, I think that would be the solution. I’m not trying to blame anyone, I’m just trying to find a reason. I see plenty of desperate people in the Middle East.

Can you elaborate a little on that?

Whether it’s within the Arab world or the invasion of parts of Palestine, or revolutions, or the Sunni against Shia conflict within Muslims, all of these I think stem from a systematic injustice that generates so many difficulties and harm to citizens that they go and take risks that get them killed.

So these factors are at the root of the problem?

I really don’t know what the reason is. It’s a very complex situation. I don’t know what the real true motivations of these terrorists are. I find it very difficult to understand and comprehend. How is anyone winning like this? I’m just looking at the human motivations that I search for as an actor. But I can’t find them!

You clearly don’t think there is an easy fix. Only a fool would. But is there any hope of a solution?

I guess you keep trying to fix things until it stops. I think the Middle East needs a lot of fixing internally. The people themselves, they have tried to struggle against this environment they are living in by making revolutions, and they are still struggling. I’m not politicizing; it’s a social phenomenon. The solution is to create equality across the globe, so that less people are despondent in the world. So that there is no reason for you to be disappointed in your life. I think this is what we should always be trying to do. Try to make a world that is less disappointing for our children.

Well the only thing one can hope for at this stage is that instead of an escalation we could instead start seeing the first steps of a positive process.

I really really hope so. I have faith personally. I haven’t been entirely robbed of it yet.

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