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Under Egypt's Volcano

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The pyramid in Saqqara



Partially unveiled women inside a home in the countryside, near al-'Arish, in Sinai.

Egypt, the most populous nation in the Arab world, is the birthplace of nearly every major political and religious force to spread through the region in the past century. Islamic jihad has its roots there. Osama bin Laden took his disgruntled worldview global after his tutelage by an Egyptian spiritual mentor. One of the masterminds behind the first World Trade Center bombing was Egyptian, as was one of the ringleaders of 9/11. And yet Egypt’s government and its Western friends would have us believe that this is a place of progress, a placid land of pharaohs and sphinxes eager to welcome well-heeled tourists. Writer Scott Anderson and photographer Paolo Pellegrin visited Egypt for the October issue of Vanity Fair and found a country sowing the seeds of fundamentalism. Pellegrin’s images of sullen faces and shrouded cityscapes reveal a place burdened by the past, and a poverty-stricken people, many seething with resentment. —

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