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my new book is this:

which has turned out to be one of the best books i’ve bought this year. you simply cant understand whats going on in the middle east, most of which is behind the scenes, without understanding the divisions between the sunni and shia populations.

but dont let the title fool you,… even tho it tends to suggest ” arrghhhh the carzy iranians are coming!” its actually quite the opposite. if you’ve spent anytime in the middle east, but dont happen to be of arab or muslim descent then this book is vital to understanding why certain governments on both sides of the sectarian divide do what they do.

one of the problems with analysing the middle east is that the majority of the “official” news channels are either state controled or have special interest groups behind them. thats not to say the western media is totaly unbiased,… far from it. but with “freedom of speech” being a nothing more than a quaint western concept, i’m pretty sure that journalists are working with one arm tied behind their backs and a sweaty sock in their mouths.

you pick up alot just by being here,…. but theres alot that goes unsaid and undiscussed. so much is taboo that almost half of what comes out of either sides mouth is often tainted by centuries of prejudice and counter prejudice.

i’m only half way thru the book right now so i wont go into a full review or examples of what i’m talking about as far as the sunni/shia thing goes,….

but heres an example of how the past continues to affect popular misconceptions today:

me: hey i’m going to visit istanbul for a few days.

muslim/non-arab buddy: really? is it safe?

me: uhhh yeah i think so, why?

muslim/non-arab buddy: i heard its very dangerous, and theyre all after your money and are thieves.

me: lol bit of a generalisation,…. its not like i’m going into some central american drug producing favela ( ghetto ).

muslim/non-arab buddy: still theyre not good people the turks.

me: why have you met some?

muslim/non-arab buddy: no but it is widely known.

😐 ,…. umm ok,…. i decided to end the conversation there cos it was getting stupid.

thing is when i spoke to others, all pretty much muslims of both arab and non-arab descent,…. the concensus was pretty much the same.

the turks are a bunch of thieving bastards.

and yet almost none of this is based on having actually met any or even been there.

it makes you think,… until you realise that alot of this prejudice probably comes from the days of the ottoman empire and the way they conquered and ruled over this region. this country became a british protectorate because of the fear of the turks, basically signing over any authority over its own country for british empire protection. visit the dickson house, and you’ll find the “secret document” between the two nations signed in 1899. it goes so far as to say that no foreign nation can even set up an embassy on kuwaiti soil without consent from the british.

yes, the fear of the turks was so great that those terms were agreed to.

which is fair enough, the turks are known to be real bastards when it comes to war. proper hard tough asses who know how to fight. just look at Gallipoli where they defeated the allied invasion during world war 1.

but for that to remain to this day?

thats the same as the french and polish hating the germans to this day.

or the chinese hating the japanese.

or the japanese and germans and the americans not talking to each other today.

its a bit much dont you think?

granted, there are some that do still harbour prejudices from the past,…. but not many americans would refuse to visit germany or japan on those grounds. or vice versa. atleast not as many people i’ve encountered here who still apparently fear the turks.

i can understand animosity against iraqis by locals cos its still relatively fresh.

what silly things have you heard about the turks, or even other nations?

i think that the path to peace lies not in supressing silliness, but rather by putting said stupidity on display in the hopes of the person actually learning something.

a short excerpt from the book above talks about some of the silliness that perpetuates hate:

” in lebanon, popular lore has held that shias have tails; in saudi arabia it is said that shias spit in their food – a slander no doubt meant to discourage socialisation; in pakistan, shia are tagged with derogatory nicknames like “mosquito”” – Vali Nasr

somethings are just beyond stupid.

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3 Comments

  1. And I kept telling you how worried I was about you getting kidnapped by Turkish mafia!
    LOL
    You must have thought that I am beyond stupid 😦
    Must re-read 😛

  2. You go and post this during Eid!
    Now they’re going to think that you you did it on purpose!
    Like the bad expat trying to divide them 😛

  3. well what better time than during eid and xmas to air stereotypes and see that those stereotypes are wrong? 😛

    and yeah that turkish mafia thing was funny 😛


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