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One ticket to heavens please, for the gentleman.

August 20, 2009

During the course of the past few years, there were more than a handful of experiences that left me deeply disturbed. The most recent was an excursion on a Saturday night that left me feeling castrated, but that’s for another post.

For this post, I will talk about two incidents that stand out because they reveal so much about the Arab world, which is where yours truly hails from.

The first was the absurd reaction to the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. It was strange that amongst all the grave injustices committed on a daily basis in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as the grave injustices committed against Arabs by their own governments, we only chose to rise in anger over those harmless cartoons. A witch-hunt of publications that reprinted the cartoons ensued and calls for boycotts included Kuwaiti and Jordanian publications. Raising the argument that being Muslim has become a much stronger tie than that of being Arab.

The other profoundly disturbing incident was the brutal murder of Marwa Sharabini, who was stabbed 18 times inside a courthouse by a skinhead. The alarming level of hatred towards Arabs in the world is disturbing enough, but equally disturbing was the Arab world’s reaction, which hardly amounted to a whimper.

Of course it is very well that nobody went out burning flags and trashing embassies and starting meaningless boycotts. But when we weigh both the reactions to their respective actions, we reach deeply unpleasant conclusions.

The reaction (or lack of) to Marwa’s murder serves as a painful reminder of the fact that in the Arab world, Human life is worthless. It is ok to go ahead and murder a mother in front of her husband. But it is not ok to make fun of religious beliefs.

This way of thinking is deeply Islamic in nature. It has roots in the idea that whoever dies in the name of Islam – a very broad area – is a martyr and therefore is going to a better place. And so we shouldn’t be saddened by their demise, in fact, we should be happy.

This way of thinking has stuck with us throughout the years and was promoted and exploited by ruthless Arab regimes and their daily rising death toll. It is also used by terrorists to justify the murder of innocent people in their attacks; they simply argue that innocent bystanders are martyrs who have died in the name of Islam, and therefore are actually better off now, as they are in heaven.

Another constant reminder of how cheap life can be is the way Israel has on several occasions swapped tens, even hundreds of Arabs detained in Israeli prisons for the dead bodies of a few soldiers. It is true that this is a win-win situation, as otherwise the Arab prisoners will remain forgotten in Israeli prisons, but I wonder how this formula affects the psyche of the Arab mind in the long run; the enemy’s government treats its dead soldiers better than Arab states treat their living heroes. This vastly feeds into Arab defeatism, which so far has defined generations.

This defeatist mentality is ingrained so deeply in Arab minds that the only positive aspect of their lives has become that of religion, and the promise of a better life after this one. Therefore, by all means, rid us of this shit, we’re going somewhere better.

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