Tag Archives: cultural stereotypes

On Jihad, Ignorance Stands Still

The Washington Post had an article the other day about an ad campaign in DC to inform the public on what ‘jihad’ actually means.

With a four-week ad buy in the Shaw, Waterfront, Rockville and Dunn Loring Metro stations, organizer Ahmed Rehab, who is also executive director of the Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says that he is hoping to change the narrative around the word jihad.

“We kind of got tired sitting there watching people tell us what we believe or what we don’t believe.”

The posters feature photos of Muslims sharing their religious struggles, and uses lines like “my jihad is to build bridges through friendship” and “my jihad: modesty is not a weakness.”

Twelve years after 9/11 and the initial bout of screaming American ignorance, the country’s morons are still as ignorant and still as vocal as ever. Some comments from the WaPo:

You can try to give a newer softer meaning to the word “jihad” but it is too late.
For too many non muslims, the word jihad is associated with terrorism.

This is not a newer, softer meaning. This is the meaning.

Painting Jihad in any other way than getting rid of whoever believes differently is like sprinkling sugar on blood or painting lipstick on a pig’s snout.

“Lipstick on a pig” will always remind me of Sarah Palin.

Jihad means islamic holy war and it has no any other meaning.Jihad in german language is Mein Kampf.
Jihad does not mean to build bridge through friendship.
Jihad is war,jihad means killing infidels/non-muslims.
Jihad is an obligation in House of War/Infidel Country(America,Europe)
Jihad ads at metro stations are Lie Propaganda and Deception

Congratulations, you’re exactly wrong.

But I’m happy to say that the really awful comments I saw the other day have largely been addressed by thoughtful, patient people, and there’s real discussion going on in the comments today.

And people can still see the humor:

My jihad is to get laid this weekend

That’s not quite the meaning, but good luck to you, ma’am.

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Filed under arabic, arabist, bigoted idiots, Islamic relations, language, Stupidity

Cartoon: Those People Dress Funny

I get a kick out of Americans’ attitude that we’re all special snowflakes who dress exactly the way we want to because we embody the American ideal of freedom of expression, as if we don’t just witlessly wear whatever the stores are full of. I mean come on, pants? Sarongs would be much more comfortable.

Drew this on MS Paint with one hand; my cat was sleeping on my left hand. Poor little thing got a couple stitches today.

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Filed under hijab

“Arab Shooting Gallery”

I recommend these posts about the portrayal of Arabs in video games.

Representing Arabs in Video Games over at Sociological Images and Digital Arabs: Representation in Video Games at Digital Islam.

from the Sociological Images post:

Majd A.-S. sent in a link to a review at The Brainy Gamer of the Wii videogame Heavy Fire: Special Operations, which was released last week. Michael Abbott, the reviewer, starts by saying that he doesn’t find First-Person Shooter (FPS) games inherently problematic, but that after playing the game he found this one disturbing. He suggests it should be renamed “Arab Shooting Gallery.”

Notice that the game specifically points out that it has a “destructible environment”; not only can you kill enemies, you can make sure you leave the surrounding city as demolished as possible. Woo hoo! Fun!

At Sociological Images I also found this post about really awful anti-Arab, anti-Muslims, and anti-Hispanic signs in Pennsylvania. I’m tempted to believe this was somebody playing with an online sign generator.

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Filed under arab, arabic, bigoted idiots

Harmful Stereotyping

This is offensive.

I hate to see stereotypes like this. Young American women aren’t generally this stupid. 😉

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A Culture that Honors Martyrdom

Sometimes you’re reading along, internally nodding your head, and then you hit that one sentence, that one clause, that sets your nerves clanging. A clause like this one: “…particularly in a Middle Eastern culture that honors martyrdom…”

The article is otherwise great and I recommend you read it, Why Dissidents, Freed From Prison, Often Choose the Path of Most Resistance. But that clause is what inspired this post, which looks like it’s going to end up much longer than I originally thought it would.

A month or so ago I had a post mentioning the Shi’a Muslim holiday of Ashura, which commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein Ibn Ali, who died in the Battle of Karbala. He was not killed over his Muslim faith, as he and his army were fighting other Muslims, but because his supporters were fighting with the Umayyad Caliph Yazid’s supporters over who was the rightful Muslim ruler. So he was not a martyr to his religion, but to his nation.

The Sunni Muslims don’t even have a martyr figure at all. Christians, however, have a whole bunch of them. A calendar full of them and much, much more. I think you could even fairly say that crucifixion imagery amounts to honoring martyrdom.

Martyr is a word we don’t use much in the US. It’s kind of old-fashioned, definitely churchy. Wikipedia has a page on Christian martyrs:

The lives of the martyrs became a great source of inspiration for the Christians and their lives and relics were greatly revered. Second century Church Father, Tertullian wrote that “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church”, implying that the willing sacrificing of the martyrs lives leads to the conversion of many more.

Here’s a skimpy list of Christian martyrs.

Today I learned there’s something called a martyrology, which is a is a catalogue or list of martyrs arranged in the calendar order of their anniversaries or feasts.

Islam has nothing like this.

I’m seeing an amazing difference of opinion on how many Christians have been martyred lately, from an estimate of over 170,000 per year to just a few thousand a year. Here’s a notable quote from this page:

Have there been more martyrs in this century than in all others combined, as the current quote suggests? During this century, we have documented cases in excess of 26 million martyrs. From AD 33 to 1900, we have documented 14 million martyrs. So, yes, this quote is correct.

On the other hand, martyrdom has been on the decline for the past decade. The current rate is 159,000 martyrs per year — down from 330,000 per year at the height of the cold war.

I also found the site of this organization, the Voice of the Martyrs, (web address ‘persecution.com’) that wants to, among other things

emphasize the fellowship of all believers by informing the world of atrocities committed against Christians and by remembering their courage and faith.

Wikipedia’s page about martyrs even included a high school student at Columbine High School, who rates as a martyr apparently because she was asked if she believed in God right before she was shot.*

But enough about the church kind of martyr (although you wonder why this isn’t enough yet to conclude that the US has a western culture that honors martyrdom). An astute colleague pointed out to me that in the US we use the phrase “ultimate sacrifice” instead.

When you look at it that way, we have two national holidays honoring martyrs, Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and monuments all over the country honoring those Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice. Many other countries have national holidays to honor their soldiers who have died in war, and many of those countries call that holiday Martyrs Day.

Here are a few of the countries who have a national Martyrs Day: Panama, Albania, Burma, Armenia, Vietnam, India, Tibet, Israel. One of those is in the Middle East, anyway, but I don’t think it was what the author had in mind when he mentioned the Middle East culture that honors martyrdom.

Anyhow, that’s how one little clause led me to hours of Googling. In an otherwise very nice article, there was one little niggling phrase that was aimed at making Arabs seem strange, harsh, brutal. Wanting us to think Arabs are not like us, they don’t value their lives, they don’t love their children as much as we do. Backing up the arrogant assumption that we have evolved a little bit more than those people over there who dress like George Lucas’s Sand People.

As serendipity would have it, a friend sent me the link to this article today. From it:

I wish more Americans had an opportunity to get to know Muslims. Then they would not be susceptible to the silly anti-Muslim propaganda that is floated by some right-wing Christians.

Muslims are good folks. One fellow e-mailed me quite convinced that Muslims lop off the heads of every infidel they meet. I’ve been a guest in the homes of many Muslim friends, and the only thing they lopped off were extra servings of lamb.

Racism is a monstrous injustice because it imposes a stereotype on millions of innocent individuals. The only real solution is education and broad experience.

Disclaimer: I know that Arab doesn’t equal Muslim and vice versa.
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*Apparently this has been debunked, and the girl who was asked if she believed in God survived the Columbine shootings.
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Special last-minute bonus link: Which Pope am I?

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Filed under arab, arabist