Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Middle East, Princess Di, and the Fayeds:
a Multicultural Perspective

In London, an inquest into the death of Princess Diana is in the news.

This has nothing to do, directly, with the war on terror, but I think there's a lesson to be learned here.

A little over ten years ago, Princess Di, her very special friend Dodi Fayed, Fayed's bodyguard, and a sozzled driver shot into a tunnel, along with a swarm of paparazzi. In the tunnel, the car met a concrete pillar, with predictable results. Dodi's bodyguard survived, happily, but Dodi, Di, and the driver were sincerely dead.

Dodi's dad, Mohammed al Fayed, says that Queen Elizabeth II's husband, Prince Philip, told the British secret service to kill Dodi and Di. Even assuming that the elder Fayed is right about his son having gotten Di pregnant, and the British Royal family not wanting a non-Britisher in the family, the assassination angle seems unlikely.

Until you realize that Mohammed al Fayed is from Egypt.

That's a part of the world that reminds me, in some ways, of gangland Chicago. Back around the 11th century, a group of Islamic Persians permanently removed people they didn't approve of: and gave European cultures the word الحشاشين (hashashin) in the process. It came into English as "assassin."

It's easy to get the idea that people in and near today's Middle East are accustomed to settling differences by selective, and occasionally not-so-selective, assassinations. For example, Coming from a region like that, the first thing a bereaved father might think of was that the family of his son's girlfriend had put out a hit.

Sure, it killed Di, too: but honor killings aren't exactly unknown around there, either. Di had, from some points of view, besmirched the family's honor and needed to be killed.

So what? Non-Muslims are dealing with a part of the world, and a culture, that most of us aren't used to. Aside from relatively minor details, like table etiquette, there are major points where people who grew up in a post-Magna-Carta world must remember that other cultures have alternative values.

For example, in America, a woman who was raped is generally regarded as a victim.

In other places, from Syria to Pakistan, a woman who was raped has brought shame to her family, and must be killed to wipe out the shame.

Although I can't condone honor killings and assassinations, I think it's necessary to understand how other cultures deal with conflicts and other issues, in order to properly evaluate how well, or how poorly, political leaders in that part of the world maintain order.

In other words, Baghdad, Damascus, and Riyadh are not Kansas City, Detroit, and Miami.

Back to the Princess Di mess for a moment. As a father myself, I sympathize with Muhammed al Fayed. The loss of a child is a terrible thing, and I grieve with him.

Although I believe that al Fayed has misread British culture, and over-estimated the abilities of the British secret service, It's only reasonable to provide a link to "Al Fayed," Muhammed al Fayed's website.

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store


Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.