A SECOND LOOK AT RACISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST

A recent exploration of how workers are treated in Qatar revealed some interesting aspects of problems in this Arab country. Because people in Asia and countries like the Philippines have struggling populations, many persons hire themselves out as maids and servants. Citizens in Qatar are among the world’s richest with a gross national income of an average of $87,478 a year. This figure is twice what is true for the United States.

Here’s the kicker. The indentured servants are fortunate to make $275 a month or less. Recent research by Richard Morin in The New York Times found that while maids are promised room and board, they often only eat the left overs … if there are any. Because these servants are poor, they are virtually captives because in Qatar they can not leave unless their employers allows it (and they don’t).

This report coincides with findings that my second son Professor C.A. Wise, Ph.D. has made in Arab dominated areas of Africa. Tony, as I always called him, was a Fullbright Scholar and Professor in Burkina Faso as well as a Professor of American Studies at the University of Amman, Amman, Jordan. The author of many books, he has traveled widely in Arab countries including Morocco. Tony is an expert in third world literature. Recently, he completed a study of Arab racism in Mali.

Dr. Wise’s work demonstrates a long history of Arab racism and imperialism in that region. While all countries have racial issues, the problem is paramount with Arabs. No question that Jews have racial issues with Arabs and vice versa. In the United States whites and black still struggle. We can find the problem around the world. However, hate crimes against black people abound in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, these situations have been largely ignored by Western media The U.S. government has backed away for fear of getting into another Islamist conflict. However, the problem stretches back for centuries.

Dr. Wise’s research reveals that Mali has particularly been hit hard by the problem. American absorption with Al-Qaeda has narrowed the national focus. Consequently, the African situation hardly shows up on the nightly news. Nevertheless, countries in the sub-Saharan region are facing the hypocrisy of the Arab world on this issue. Important historic outposts like Timbuktu have had ancient and important manuscripts and artifacts destroyed by jihadists raids and attacks.

The point for the Middle East? Arab racism plays a part in the conflicts that the Arab spring has produced across the region. Anyone interested in this area needs to recognize this history and aspect of the problem. If you are interested and read French, Seneweb: Le Senegol dans le Web in the May 21, 2012 edition describes the problem in an article entitled Etre Noir au Maroc (Being Black in Morocco).

While the Middle East continues in a state of turmoil, careful analysis demands that we recognize this factor for what it is.

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Filed under Arabs, middle east, Muslims, Racism

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