07 February 2006

Racism in Arab culture.

Yes. It exists. And it SUCKS.

What disturbs me the most, is how most people hardly even realise how overtly racist they are!

Ok, perhaps this only applies to the caste-ridden middle and upper classes, but by Jupiter, it's rife there! How so? Well, it's a two-fold problem, as I see it. First off, we have the general racist tendencies that nobody seems to notice. For example, I was appalled by a "comedy" series on MBC called "Tash Ma Tash". One of the trailers for the series involved two blacked up actors (made up to look black) speaking gibberish and pretending to be Africans, behaving stupidly in a lame effort to illicit laughs from the audience. Now, not only was that in bad taste, it was also offensive.

The second aspect is much more insidious: it's a racism few people are even aware of. I don't know how true this is in other Arab countries, but in Jordan, it's an epidemic (or should that be endemic?). It's caste-based racism that dehumanizes foreign labourers. How so? Well, just listen to how people in Jordan refer to Egyptians and Asians from Sri Lanka, India, the Phillipines, etc. These countries are famous for one thing in Jordan: They provide a steady stream of poor people willing to do the menial jobs that most natives of this country find shameful/"low".

Just walk into 99% of upper-class houses. Go to a restaurant. Chances are, the person doing the serving will be a Sri Lankan maid or an Egyptian waiter. And these people are often treated like garbage by patrons and employers alike. Just listen to the terminology people use in conversation: Sri Lankan (or Sirlankiyyeh) is synonymous with a maid...no, servant girl is a more accurate term. Egyptian (Masri) is a term used for a low-income labourer who does menial tasks like gardening, washing cars, serving coffee, etc etc.

These individuals (whom I shall intentionally refer to as people simply because they are rarely treated as such) are mistreated by everyone. The police, their employers, the people they serve. They have few rights, and everyone likes to lord it over them. And why? They aren't exactly slaves, but they are pretty damn close to being that. And why is that? Why does society hold them in such low regard? When will this end? Do we not realise how wrong this is?

No comments: