Sunday, March 27, 2011

Al Jazeera on religious stereotypes

Interesting opinion piece on Al Jazeera addresses the West's failure to predict or understand the revolutions currently going on in the Middle East. This is what really stands out:
But somewhere in all of this there was a fatal flaw: the good-hearted, progressive, pro-peace activists, pundits, and academics still followed the trend du jour analyses firmly within the framework of "Muslim religiosity" and "cultural understanding".

They affirmed rather than denied the basic premise of the conventional wisdom that when it came to Muslims and Arabs, all was about "religion".


The inconvenient, but certainly long due and welcome, truth is that the uprisings made us see that labour organisations, students, women, professional groups, in a word the civil society, provided the shock troops for the revolutions.

Looking back at the history of the last century or so, it is hard to imagine how we missed to see these dynamic groups, which have been an integral part of political reforms in the region since the late nineteenth century. They suddenly fell below our radars in the post 9/11 world.


It is time to approach three hundred million Arabic speaking people and more than one billion people professing Islam as their faith in their own ways not as "Muslims" but as an integral part of human society – within the context of particular social experiences, needs, aspirations, worries, and grievances, which are as real, complex, and the same as that of the most other peoples around the world.
This is a legitimate complaint about a real problem in Western analysis. On the other hand, isn't the problem more general? Doesn't the media treat every religious group is far more homogeneous than it really is, and isn't it inclined to oversimplify the sociological factors involved in any major event? The very phrase "religious fundamentalism" is a symptom of this tendency. To put it bluntly, I'd say Western media treats its native Christianity every bit as simplistically as it treats Islam.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear feedback!