Friday, November 2, 2007

Different Strokes for Different Folks: How Middle Eastern Culture Deals With Reality?

In his appearance at Columbia University, Iran's President Ahmadinejad made a statement so wildly at odds with reality that even Columbia students laughed.

The Iranian president stated that "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country." ("Ahmadinejad at Columbia University / Part 2 / There are No Homosexuals in Iran?!" (September 24, 2007))

Ahmadinejad may not be as obviously goofy as he seemed. Judging from what's going on in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Iranian president may simply have been dealing with an unpleasant reality in a culturally-sanctioned way: denial.

If denial is an accepted method of handling facts which do not match hopes and desires, America and other western nations needs to be careful not to impose western standards of perception on people from Middle-Eastern cultures. Or, we may want to re-think how we define 'tolerance.'

An 'alleged' case of sexual assault by two Emirati men on a fifteen-year-old French-Swiss boy revealed an oddity in the legal system of the UAE: women can be raped, but men can't. Not as far as the law is concerned, at least.

UAE authorities picked the wrong Franco-Swiss family to mess with. The victim's mother, Veronique Robert, is a French journalist. UAE authorities told her, and told French diplomats, on four separate occasions following the July attack that none of the three defendants was HIV positive. According to the mother.

She says that she has an official document, dated 2003, showing that authorities in the UAE knew one defendant was HIV positive at that time.


It gets better. She says that an Emirati forensics doctor pronounced her son to be homosexual, and that French diplomats told her that her son could be charged with performing homosexual acts: something that is illegal in Dubai, part of the UAE.

(The mother's website is

Emirati law is an amalgam of Islamic and tribal law. Which may explain the peculiarities of this case.

I think this is another example of how Middle Eastern cultures, if not Islam, are having a hard time dealing with a world which no longer accepts the whims of autocrats and local traditions as law.

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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.