Why do they hate us so much?


by Sunny
1st April, 2006 at 5:14 pm    

A Saudi man in Abu Dhabi has an Indian delivery man who he describes as “a good man, hardworking and devoted”. One day they are having a quick chat when he delivers the paper. The Indian talks about his work and his dream to live in London. He asks the Saudi man if he wrote for the paper. Indeed he did, the Saudi man said.

The Indian man has a request. Why doesn’t he write about why young Saudis hate foreign workers, especially the Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. Abdullah Al-Mutairi does:

I took his question to my students and started a discussion in class. The students agreed that they had harassed foreigners, particularly South Asians, in the street. One said that seeing a worker in the street was a perfect chance for them to beat him up and then run away. Some admitted searching for foreign workers to beat up, throw eggs at and generally abuse.

I asked my students why they behaved in this way, what was the reason. Some said it was just fun, nothing more or less. Some said it was because those people were weak and unable to fight back. Some said that their favorite pastime was to catch cats, kill them and skin them. I was shocked and disturbed by all this violence and wondered what was causing it. [via Amitava Kumar]


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  1. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 5:40 pm  

    Sunny,

    “I was shocked and disturbed by all this violence and wondered what was causing it.”

    Either they are ignorant of their religion and dont practice it or they are just arrogant and dont practice it. It is hard to consider someone from another country as your brother in Islam but that is the way it has to be. Shame on them!

  2. Kulvinder — on 1st April, 2006 at 5:48 pm  

    I’m sure everyone of South Asian origin has heard the horror stories of working in the middle east. Its not only Indian, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis either. Workers from South East Asia are treated equally badly. Its what has always made me uncomfortable about places like Dubai, i don’t begrudge its ambition or ignore the fact that abuse of the working class isn’t only a Middle Eastern problem its just difficult to juxtapose the world leading ambition of Dubai with the contempt those who do the manual labour.

  3. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 5:56 pm  

    Bikki,
    Having lived in KSA for 20 months i know better.

    Either they are ignorant of their religion and dont practice it or they are just arrogant and dont practice it.

    Just how easily Muslims through in the “ingorant about Islam” defence surely there cant be 25 million mis-understanders of Islam in one country. Actually this behaviour has a lot to do with Saudis being hero-worshipped by Muslims all over he world. This coupled with west’s oil addiction has given Saudi Arabians a bloated ego.

  4. James — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:03 pm  

    “It is hard to consider someone from another country as your brother in Islam but that is the way it has to be”

    How about the fact that they’re humans just like me and you regardless of their faith. Maybe they deserve laws that protect them as workers as any worker deserves in any part of the world. Don’t know why everything has to viewed in tribes, I really don’t understand why people who say they are religious change their religions into power games of different tribes rather than ethical standards and behaviour.

    But on another point considering that this blog is into Arab and Muslim bashing I don’t know what they’re point is. Do we bash Arabs we can create a siege mentatility ? Are’nt Arabs treated as the modern day “niggers” just because they are on the other end of the power games of imperialism? Do they have to suffer the stick of racist cartoons in the name of “free speech”. Does Palestinean suffering have to brushed under the carpet as non-existent so we can blame those made suicide bombers again? Arabs do not live only in Saudi and are just as discriminated and abused in other parts of the world. Instead of going into hysteria and moral panics about this or that Muslim organistaion, not considering the power balance, why don’t you pick on those that are the root cause of strife. I hated Malcolm X’s views when he was with that racist organisation NOI but I am not going to go in hysterics about them while not reading the context of the time of blacks facing discrimination, lynching, racial profiling etc. Its called blaming the victims.

  5. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:06 pm  

    Vikrant,

    We have had this discussion before. Yes they are ignorant and I am willing to say that to them or anyone else because I have the proof on my side and they dont. The fact that it is difficult for your to believe that they are ignorant proves that you are doing a little hero worshipping yourself.

    BTW, South Asians arent exactly innocent either when it comes to their treatment of other Muslims, i.e. black Muslims. Everyone treats black Muslims like their conversions or presence are somehow undesireable.

    You better tell those Asians to start kicking some ass because regardless of the contempt that black Muslims, rather black people recieve from so many different kinds of people, they will never be harassed like that.

  6. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:07 pm  

    Most of the Arabs I know are actually an arrogant bunch and look down their noses at muslims from other countries. I’m talking Yemeni’s actually. And they’ll admit it too.

  7. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:09 pm  

    Sam Ambreen,

    You have no use for a Yemen other than to teach you Arabic.

  8. Jay Singh — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:10 pm  

    May The Yellow Teeth Of A Yemen Be Cursed By The Fiery Humps Of A Camel From Damascus!

  9. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:11 pm  

    Having read what Bikhair said, I’d have to agree that muslims have a kind of pecking order. The Arabs think little of Pakistanis, the Pakistani’s think little of blacks and so on. And yet, we are all supposed to be brothers and sisters. Hmph.

  10. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:11 pm  

    Bikhair, it doesn’t matter which name I use, you’ll always have something to say to me!

  11. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:12 pm  

    James & Vikrant,

    You also have to remember that when it comes to self criticism of Arabs its usually takes the form of Saudi bashing. That is are far as it gets. Saudis are generally not liked among other Arabs. Behind closed doors Arabs talk alot of trash of eachother.

    The Palestinians get way too much play from the Muslims. Considering that their aspiraitons arent exactly Islamic, why should they get so much love?

  12. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:13 pm  

    A Pakistani taught me Arabic. Then an Arab finished it off. Neither of ‘em taught me what it meant though…

    Why is that Bikhair? Why’d they teach you to read and speak it but not what it means…? I’m almost fluent in a language I can’t bloody understand!

  13. Sunny — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:16 pm  

    Bikhair – I don’t think you get it.

    As James said – unless a nation or anyone actually learns to treat others just as people and as their equals, it doesn’t really matter what religion or place you’re from.

    The Saudi feeling of superiority over others is a cultural issue because they also reckon they’re the chosen people when it comes to their religion. I’m generalising here of course but there are plenty of examples of Saudis treating South Asians like shit.

    Unless they learn to treat everyone as equals – they will never learn their religion properly.

  14. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:18 pm  

    Sam Ambreen,

    “And yet, we are all supposed to be brothers and sisters. Hmph.”

    No one said it would be easy. Increase your knowledge, increase your acts of worship, be humble and your heart will be opened. InshaAllah.

  15. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:21 pm  

    Sunny,

    Shouldnt you be out chasing white girls? What the hell are you talking about? Saudis treat people like crap because they are idiots. They are ignorant, jahil idiots. I dont treat people like crap because I know that it isnt becoming of a Muslim. Eventhough I love to be a bigot I know that there are better ideals for a Muslimah, who, in theory is supposed to treat all Muslims, not like friends, but like brothers. They are supposed to be dearer to me than kafirs that I have known all my life. How difficult is that?

  16. Zaman — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:21 pm  

    Here is an extract from Irfan Hussain’s latest column in Dawn. Extremely relevant and interesting in light of the current debate:

    Habib Johnson, an American reader with whom I have been in correspondence before, writes: “A few months ago, I wrote to you about my plight having converted back to Christianity after my family embraced Islam. As an African American I wrote about the problems I faced from mostly Muslims of Asian origin in my mosque area (most of them Pakistani) who made life hell for me. It convinced me Muslims will never assimilate and become moderate … even if they are living in a country that gives them everything, including the licence to preach and build mosques…

    “How can Muslim leaders who ad nauseum say ‘there’s no compulsion in Islam’ sit quiet when a man is sentenced to death for the simple reason he changed his religion? Every day I read newspapers in Muslim countries shamelessly tom-tomming the conversion of Christians (especially whites) to Islam. Isn’t this hypocrisy of the highest order…?” He concludes by asking: “Should you write a column about this?” And he answers his own question: “Hell no; I care for your well-being.”

    This is an interesting perspective because it comes from a black American convert to Islam who converted back to Christianity and was persecuted by Pakistanis for it. This is in America. The home of the free. Except if you are a Muslim and want to convert to another religion and are surrounded by Pakistanis. The link to the article:

    http://www.dawn.com/weekly/mazdak/mazdak.htm

  17. Zaman — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:23 pm  

    More from Irfan Hussain:

    ——–

    The writer makes some deeply troubling points. Indeed, the Abdul Rahman case encapsulates the entire conflict between Islam and modernity. Can we really believe that we should have the right not only to practise our faith in non-Muslim societies, but also to convert others, while we deny others the same right in our countries? More to the point, will we be allowed by others to continue with these double standards indefinitely?

    The truth is that for years, Muslim immigrants have been exploiting western liberal attitudes that have made it possible for them to get jobs, an education for their children and health care for their families. All this while the majority have chosen to maintain their distinctive lifestyle that westerners often find offensive. Their attitude towards women, for example, flies in the face of the same liberalism that Muslims use to spread their faith.

    But now, terrorism has exposed the faultlines between the two civilisations, and an increasing number of western voices are saying enough is enough to this one-way traffic.

  18. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:25 pm  

    Sam Abreem,

    You have to take more time out to study. Arabic is a difficult language to learn. I know my letters and I can read but I dont have any comprehension whatsoever and it is because I am very lazy. It isnt impossible but perhaps if you could imagine that it would earn you a great living than maybe you would put more effort into it.

    Everyone is always looking for rewards in the dunyah. Tsk Tsk. How about doing because you will understand Islam better. I should mention that it isnt necessary to learn Arabic but if you are interested in progressing in your Islamic studies you gotta know it. My advice to you is learn about the basic principles of the religion first -tawheed- and go from there. Arabic isnt essential.

  19. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:33 pm  

    Bikhair,

    If I’d been given a translated Quran to learn from, I would not have this issue.

    My question to you was why must we learn a language if they are not prepared to give us an understanding of it?

    I think my teacher was lazy.

  20. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:34 pm  

    Zamzam,

    How unfortunate but compare how this woman was treated by Pakistanis but who cares. She didnt convert because of Pakistanis, she converted because of Islam right? Islam is independent of these people. So, when she takes her trip to, I dont know Lebanon, and hangs out with those Arab christians, and they treat her like crap, what will she do then, convert to air?

  21. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:35 pm  

    And who’s looking for reward? When I learnt english, I knew what I was saying. When I learnt urdu/punjabi, I knew what I was saying.

    Why must Arabic be taught without meaning?

    Does my question make more sense this time?

  22. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:37 pm  

    Arabs look down or their Pakistani ‘brothers’ because they have no understanding of the Arab’s language.

  23. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:37 pm  

    Zamzam,

    “All this while the majority have chosen to maintain their distinctive lifestyle that westerners often find offensive. Their attitude towards women, for example, flies in the face of the same liberalism that Muslims use to spread their faith.”

    Is everyone entitled to hold ideas that flies in the face of liberalism except the Muslims? Are you going to go after every racist, or sexist, or bigot that isnt Muslim?

  24. Tanvir — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:38 pm  

    Well at least people are recognising the problem. I think it is more about class and arrogance than religion. As I have read about workers from the far east, many not muslim, also being mis-treated. I dont think the Arab elite think about what religion thier victim is before they mis-treat them, nor should they. They should perhaps think about thier own though, and its teachings upon the treatment of people.

    It is not just an Arab problem either, in the past I have witnessed house servants in Bangladesh being mistreated badly, thanks to the garments industry though, the servants call the shots these days! Such as working hours pay etc cos its hard to find domestic workers in Dhaka, people usually have to pay for workers to be brought over temorarily from rural areas.

  25. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:38 pm  

    Sam Ambreen,

    I cant baby you and I dont have all the answers to your questions. Find another teacher. Put some work into to it. Math is difficult too, will you give up on that? Stop tormenting me.

  26. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:40 pm  

    “I cant baby you and I dont have all the answers to your questions. Find another teacher.”

    TYPICAL!

    THAT’S WHAT THEY ALL SAY!

    PML.

  27. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:41 pm  

    Bikhair, it’s NorahJones.

    Glad to see some things don’t change :-)

  28. Zaman — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

    bikhair

    Your comment is silly. He converted from islam to Christianity of his own will and was persecuted and hounded to the point of a nervous breakdown by Pakistanis, because he had converted away from Islam. It has nothing to do with race it is to do with the religion, comprendez? why was he persecuted by Muslims living in america simply for leaving islam? This is rank hypocrisy

  29. Fe'reeha — on 1st April, 2006 at 6:55 pm  

    My question to you was why must we learn a language if they are not prepared to give us an understanding of it?

    I agree with you Sam Ambreen and raise the same question to our parents, guardians, scholars, the whole muslim ummah (though I will probably never ask Bikhair in my right frame of mind)

    Why are we taught Arabic as a sacred language without meaning?
    I, like many Muslims of the South Asian origin, can read and write in Arabic. I can even count in Arabic and recite paragraph after paragraph from Quran.
    I can close my eyes and go on and on like a parrot in the Arabic “gardaans” (grammar). Kataba.Katabee-Kataban
    etc. But yes, all this qualification means zilch for I watch Aljazeera and it makes no sense at all. I cannot understand what I read and write.
    God, such a dynamic topic you have started.
    Actually there is a verse in Quran in Surah Buqrah, (don’t worry, I will translate)
    “and they are like donkeys who carry their books but never read them, for the words have no meaning for them.”
    The verse refers to the Jews in Egypt who forgot the message of Abraham, but god it refers to us.
    We are literally the new donkeys of Abraham who read and write without understanding.

  30. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:00 pm  

    Guess why is Arabic the God’s language?

  31. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:00 pm  

    Bang on Fe’reeha. I haven’t the foggiest what any of it means.
    I went to mosque from the ages of 5 to 11 and I know nothing.

    I’ll read it if you want and I’ll even write it down for you as you recite. But what the hell does it mean??!!

    And as you suggested Bikhair, I asked a few of my Yemeni ‘brothers’ to help me and their replies were uncannily similar to yours.

    “I cant baby you and I dont have all the answers to your questions. Find another teacher.”

    …?

  32. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:01 pm  

    Damn Vikrant, rephrase that, you’re hurting my brain.

  33. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:04 pm  

    As i see it Arabs consider Islam to be a vehicle for Arab nationalism and all non-Arab Muslims as essentially inferior to them.

  34. j0nz — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:04 pm  

    Well it takes a Saudi to say it. There’s a lot of hatred and severe distaste for foreigners. But let’s face it, it’s endemic in the Arab world.

    The word of god was apparently revealed through Mohammed in arabic, let us not forget. Saudi blood money reveals exactly how much each life is worth.

    This is disgusting discrimination enshrined in Saudi law. Where a Muslim man is worth 100,000 riyals, yet a Hindu woman is worth a mere 3,333 riyals.

    And yet, papers such as the New York Times have the audacity to describe Mecca as a ‘melting pot of diversity’. Forgetting the fact that it’s illegal for non-believers to be in Mecca.

  35. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:05 pm  

    Norah Jones,

    Long time no see, darling. You know if you children and they find a subject difficult for them you dont give them excuse why they cant master it. Its the same thing. I hang out with lots of kids and they always blame the attitude of their teachers for their failures. I cant deal with it. YOu are rewarded for your stuggles in the religion. Take advantage of it.

    Enough with the excuses.

  36. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:08 pm  

    Most Saudi Arabs are ineducated insensitive pompous buffons (FULL STOP), having personally experienced life in the apartheid state.

  37. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:09 pm  

    Jonz,

    “Saudi blood money reveals exactly how much each life is worth. ”

    I would judge the time a person had to fast for taking another life. Along with paying the money a person has to fast for a certain amont of time. Do you have the numbers for that?

  38. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:09 pm  

    I would judge the time a person had to fast for taking another life. Along with paying the money a person has to fast for a certain amont of time. Do you have the numbers for that?

    Classic Bikki. Incredibly thick.

  39. Bikhair — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:10 pm  

    Fe’reeha,

    You are a Sufi which explains it all. Stop crying like a baby.

  40. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:11 pm  

    Lol Bikki didint you say sometime back that Sufis are wannabe Hindus?

  41. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:15 pm  

    Oh, to hell with it. They don’t wanna teach you, you can’t blame them for not teaching you, you have to be careful as to where to look for information… TO HELL WITH IT.

  42. Sid D H Arthur — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:15 pm  

    astaghfirallah baby that just rude. sheeeeeyit!

  43. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:15 pm  

    ?

  44. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:16 pm  

    Sufism is beautiful! Are you wahabi Bikhair? You are aintcha?

  45. Fe'reeha — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:16 pm  

    I don’t really care what Bikhair writes, but for the benefit of others.
    No, I am not a Sufi!

  46. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:16 pm  

    you bet

  47. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:17 pm  

    Hm… Fundies.

  48. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:18 pm  

    Well theres just one fundy here: Bikki

  49. Fe'reeha — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:18 pm  

    However I used to love Junoon (the sufi rock band from Pakistan) I am not sure if that counts as being a Sufi fan.

  50. Sid D H Arthur — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:19 pm  

    mah last comment was to BibiBiKhair. sheeeeyit.

  51. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:20 pm  

    Lol, i love Rabbi Shergill and his “Bulleh Shah” song… so i will be an Atheistic Hindu Sufi!

  52. Sid D H Arthur — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:21 pm  

    whatever floats your boat Viks.

  53. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:22 pm  

    that was a jk… sid. I am an atheist as of today!

  54. Jay Singh — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:30 pm  

    Didnt anyone think my May The Yellow Teeth Of A Yemen Be Cursed By The Fiery Humps Of A Camel From Damascus! quip was funny?

  55. gaz — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:37 pm  

    In addition to the disgusting racism and violence faced by south asian workers in the middle east they earn what can only be described as slave wages. The middle east is awash with money at the moment and yet the pay and conditions for the workers is appalling. I personally would not join the hourdes of people visitng Dubai as it is built on slave labour. I wish the media would highlight the treatment of the workers.

  56. Sid D H Arthur — on 1st April, 2006 at 7:41 pm  

    This area is a fucking human rights nightmare. And yet there is hardly any coverage of any the kind on the type of life faced by the lowest of the low of the Globalisation Model: the South Asian migrant workers working in the Middle East.

    If you were asked to blog about the full stories of physical and mental violence followed by denial of basic workers rights it you’d be wondering where to start. I know for a fact that Bangladeshi workers get no legal protection from their consolates. So there was the story of 900 rioters ransacking the Bangladesh embassy because the embassy’s complete failure to represent their grievances. Its desperately fucked for these people.

    South Asians countries clearly take the backfoot in relations with the ME. Its time there was some action taken by their governments on this issue.

  57. Jay Singh — on 1st April, 2006 at 8:30 pm  

    Sid

    No leverage – if they kick up a fuss there are tens of millions of people desperate enough to put up with the conditions and treatment to take the place of anyone who doesnt like it from back in subcontinent or Asia who would grasp the chance to make the money to work there. Even rich Asian businessmen complain about the secondary status and they live an affluent lifestyle and dont work outdoors in the 40 degree heat like slaves.

  58. Sunny — on 1st April, 2006 at 8:35 pm  

    I wonder if there’s a blog by an Asian in Saudi/Dubai. That would make interesting reading.

  59. Vikrant — on 1st April, 2006 at 9:34 pm  

    I wonder if there’s a blog by an Asian in Saudi/Dubai. That would make interesting reading.

    Are you joking if the police get the wind of it…. you’ll be dead even before you know it.

  60. Chan'ad — on 1st April, 2006 at 11:30 pm  

    I wonder if there’s a blog by an Asian in Saudi/Dubai. That would make interesting reading.

    I’m not in Saudi or Dubai, but in Bahrain, and I frequently write about such issues. So might I humbly suggest my own blog. You can read my posts realted to migrant issues in this category archive. And may I recommend this specific post which I write a while back.

    Sorry for shamelessly plugging my own blog!

    Also, you should download and read this very interesting paper: Migrant Workers and Xenophobia in the Middle East

    Hope this is of some help!

  61. Sam Ambreen — on 1st April, 2006 at 11:39 pm  

    “Didnt anyone think my May The Yellow Teeth Of A Yemen Be Cursed By The Fiery Humps Of A Camel From Damascus! quip was funny?”

    Hilarious dude…! :-)

    Bulleh Shah… Touching track. Makes me cwy.

  62. Jay Singh — on 1st April, 2006 at 11:54 pm  

    Cheers Norah!

    By the way, the thing called Bikhair seems to know some people in Brum, she keeps going on about Birmingham Salamis or something – spooky!

    I don’t think Birmingham needs any more mad people please stay away Blackhair

  63. Bikhair — on 2nd April, 2006 at 12:09 am  

    Jay Singh,

    When I visit I am going to send my South Asian domestic to kick your ass. I would send my husband but he’ll just end up putting you in a coma. I am kidding but you sure are being mean.

  64. Sid D H Arthur — on 2nd April, 2006 at 12:19 am  

    not as mean as you baby. sheeeeeeeeeyit.

  65. Sunny — on 2nd April, 2006 at 12:32 am  

    Chan-’ad I’m glad you did, because at least its relevant. And thanks for the links, they make interesting reading. Shall def. be bookmarking your blog.

    Its funny how people in Bahrain are claiming that their small country’s culture is being over-run by these immigrants. The whole world over – same complaints by the same kind of people…. :)

  66. Jay Singh — on 2nd April, 2006 at 12:48 am  

    Sunny

    Have you heard people in Punjab? Complaining about how ‘bhaiyya’ migrant workers from Bihar and UP are coming into Punjab and ‘taking over’? I just roll my eyes when I hear that stuff being said in Ludhiana and Jalandhar!

  67. Fe'reeha — on 2nd April, 2006 at 9:18 am  

    Well in that case, the same situation exists in NEWP Pakistan.
    Despite all the shouts of “Islamic brotherhood” in Pakistani mosques, in particular the ones in the NWFP, Pathans hate that Afghanis have taken over parts of their land and have established successful businesses.
    Even though Pathans and Afghans share more or less the simmilar culture, yet Pathans were not happy sharing with the “brothers” who fled away from the war zone.

  68. Vikrant — on 2nd April, 2006 at 10:01 am  

    Have you heard people in Punjab? Complaining about how ‘bhaiyya’ migrant workers from Bihar and UP are coming into Punjab and ‘taking over’?

    Its same with Maharashtra. The attitude is like those-darn-Bihari-sqauting-scum-defiling-our-land. Nevermind the fact that these migrants do the jobs no one wants to do.

  69. Sam Ambreen — on 2nd April, 2006 at 12:55 pm  

    “Birmingham Salamis ”

    Pizza time at the sister’s circle?

    What?

    Huh?

    Good job I’m outta here huh Jay?

  70. Jay Singh — on 2nd April, 2006 at 1:03 pm  

    Get out and don’t look back!

  71. El Cid — on 2nd April, 2006 at 2:01 pm  

    Great discussion, aside from James’s post (talk about missing the point).
    What it goes to show, is that prejudism towards other peoples — or racism — is not some exclusively European malady. As a planet it’s debatable whether
    we have progressed much over the last few decades, aside from in the world’s more diverse and tolerant Premier League cities.
    But maybe things will feel more harmonious in 25 years time, even in the Arab peninsula, as people mix and get used to each other. But it could easily be 50-100 years time if religious doctrine doesn’t loosen its hold on Arab society.
    I hope I haven’t got the wrong end of the stick myself but I didn’t realise Arabic was not taught in mosques for communication purposes but simply as something to recite, without thought. If true, there’s something discriminatory, imperialistic, and, arguably, sinister about that. I mean it doesn’t sound like an attempt to engage the human spirit, does it?

  72. Barbara Meinhoff — on 2nd April, 2006 at 2:30 pm  

    But maybe things will feel more harmonious in 25 years time, even in the Arab peninsula, as people mix and get used to each other. …

    Don’t bet on it.

    Saudi Arabia has a population of 6 million migrant workers and they are treated like absolute shit and have been for the past 30 years.

    They stay for the money though.

  73. Don — on 2nd April, 2006 at 2:55 pm  

    ‘I would judge the time a person had to fast for taking another life.’

    What if a super-model commits murder? How would you know if she was fasting?

    As for arabic not being taught for understanding, what’s wrong with signing up for a conversational arabic evening class? Or am I missing something obvious?

  74. Sunny — on 2nd April, 2006 at 5:06 pm  

    Modern day Arabic is quite different to the classic Arabic used in the Qu’ran. That’s the problem. It’s like learning Latin when everyone speaks English.

  75. El Cid — on 2nd April, 2006 at 5:15 pm  

    Sunny: point taken

  76. El Cid — on 2nd April, 2006 at 5:17 pm  

    Maybe the analogy should be with ye olde english though.

  77. Sunny — on 2nd April, 2006 at 5:33 pm  

    True. I hated doing Shakespeare in English GCSE :|

  78. Vikrant — on 2nd April, 2006 at 5:40 pm  

    I hated doing Shakespeare in English GCSE :|

    Me too…

  79. El Cid — on 2nd April, 2006 at 8:11 pm  

    methinks he doth protest too much

  80. Don — on 2nd April, 2006 at 8:34 pm  

    You guys are lucky you didn’t get Chaucer.

    Whilom ther was dwellynge at oxenford
    A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to bord,
    And of his craft he was a carpenter.
    With hym ther was dwellynge a poure scoler,
    Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye
    Was turned for to lerne astrologye,

    But getting back to the uncomprehended arabic, how many of those doing the teaching don’t understand either? Maybe that’s why Sam keeps getting the brush off.

  81. Fe'reeha — on 2nd April, 2006 at 9:46 pm  

    “O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily
    do, not knowing what they do!”

    How can you people not like Shakespear?

  82. Chanad — on 2nd April, 2006 at 10:23 pm  

    Glad you found the links useful Sunny. And you’re right… xenophobes are the same wherever you go. Migration anywhere (especially on the scale that it has taken place in the Gulf) can have some very real negative effects for both parties — the real problem is when the xenophobes add their racism, all sides get polarized and it becomes impossible to have a genuine discussion about solving the real problems of migration. I’m sure that you lot in the UK are well aware of this already.

    On a different note, have you guys been following the events in the UAE recently, where migrant workers have been protesting more and more often. Really quite interesting. I’ve written about this in my latest post here. (Sorry for plugging my blog again… I just think that there is way too little awareness of whats happening with regards to Asians in the Gulf).

  83. Sam Ambreen — on 3rd April, 2006 at 10:19 am  

    “But getting back to the uncomprehended arabic, how many of those doing the teaching don’t understand either? Maybe that’s why Sam keeps getting the brush off. ”

    Hey Don. I’ve always maintained that the book is hugely open to interpretation and have my suspicions that a lot of our teachers really do not understand what it it is they’re teaching and if they do, fear that what they know might frighten young innocent children off!

    Face it, if I’d been taught all the fire and brimstone stuff when I was five, I might not still have been going to mosque when I was 11. It’s like reeling someone in when they’re young and fresh, institutionalising them and only letting them know the truth when they’ve already decided that they are muslim.

    Too late to back out then isn’t it?

  84. Roger — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:04 am  

    It isn’t only East Asian contract workers: the Gulf States have large populations of settled arabs who are not citizens and cannot become citizens. One of the problems with and for Palestinians is the diaspora around the Middle East- people who have lived in other countries who still live in refugee camps, cannot settle or work and whose only dream of home lies in a return that will not happen.

  85. Shahryar — on 10th April, 2006 at 1:22 pm  

    There are a numerous translations of the Koran available online as well in print. – If you really want to read the word of god then find a copy!

    I am told my Penguin translated by Dawood is not recommended by people like Zia Sardar. On the other hand the one by Pickthall is not my recommendation.

    Need I remind people that Robert Frost famously defined poetry as “that which gets lost in translation.”

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