[Some Indian and “Western” commentators] have reduced India’s rape crisis to a cultural problem. Men, we are told – specifically, Indian men – are culturally lacking and barbaric. They have no concept of women’s rights or equality. They are born and bred to sexually assault and degrade women. This is a familiar phenomenon, and an outgrowth of colonialism. When horrible crimes happen, specifically to women, we reduce the culture, in this case, of about 1 billion people, to a gang-bang-enabling society of rapists. And of course, by blaming Indian culture specifically, Western sexism is brushed under the table. We arrive at Gayatri Spivak’s formula explaining the colonial exploitation of anti-woman violence in colonized societies: “white men saving brown women from brown men”.

The process of reducing brown men to savages has been all too familiar in recent years. We have seen Egyptian men reduced to “animals” and “beasts” by the New York Post because a mob high on a combination of stupidity and jubilation about Mubarak’s downfall brutally assaulted white reporter Lara Logan. We have seen a number of “native informants,” from Mona Eltahawaly to Hirsi Ali, tell us that Arab and Muslim men “hate” women. In typical colonial fashion, gender dynamics, including real crimes and acts of brutality, are reduced to “cultural” problems in which we can reduce entire societies to large gang-bang parties predicated on savage men who simply prey on women.

 
mehreenkasana:


Native Orientalists in Pakistan
The Orientalist enterprise of Western writers has received a great deal of critical attention since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978. As Western academics have learned to bring more objectivity and empathy to their study of the Islamicate, a growing number of Muslim academics, novelists and journalists – in their home countries and the diaspora – have started looking at themselves through new Orientalist constructs that serve the interests of Western powers. This native Orientalism has existed in the past but it has grown dramatically since the launch-ing of the West’s so-called global war against terror. This essay examines the man-ner in which native Orientalists in Pakistan – writing mostly in the English language – have been supporting America’s so-called global war against terror.

Reading right now. Profound and important.

mehreenkasana:

Native Orientalists in Pakistan

The Orientalist enterprise of Western writers has received a great deal of critical attention since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978. As Western academics have learned to bring more objectivity and empathy to their study of the Islamicate, a growing number of Muslim academics, novelists and journalists – in their home countries and the diaspora – have started looking at themselves through new Orientalist constructs that serve the interests of Western powers. This native Orientalism has existed in the past but it has grown dramatically since the launch-ing of the West’s so-called global war against terror. This essay examines the man-ner in which native Orientalists in Pakistan – writing mostly in the English language – have been supporting America’s so-called global war against terror.

Reading right now. Profound and important.

 
fattouch:

On the left, the original cover of the novel “Zaat”, by Sonallah Ibrahim. On the right, the cover of its French edition.
Zaat tells the story of an Egyptian middle-class woman from the death of Nasser till Mubarak’s rise to power (1970’s - 1990’s). The novel describes the malaise of modern life in a big city like modern Cairo, which the original cover tried to depict with an illustration of Zaat in her kitchen, a shelf full of icons of modern life hanging over her.
The French cover shows the painting of a 19th century odalisque.

fattouch:

On the left, the original cover of the novel “Zaat”, by Sonallah Ibrahim. On the right, the cover of its French edition.

Zaat tells the story of an Egyptian middle-class woman from the death of Nasser till Mubarak’s rise to power (1970’s - 1990’s). The novel describes the malaise of modern life in a big city like modern Cairo, which the original cover tried to depict with an illustration of Zaat in her kitchen, a shelf full of icons of modern life hanging over her.

The French cover shows the painting of a 19th century odalisque.

(via fattouch-deactivated20121111)

 

WHOSE HOMELAND IS THAT? ›

fattouch:

Lebanese government to sue American TV hit over Beirut portrayal

on October 17, 2012

Two cars of men carrying AK-47s pull into a tight alleyway, jump out and threaten hijab-cladded women. Another car arrives and out steps a shady Hezbollah leader, the cue for special agents of the Central Intelligence Agency spring their ambush.

All this takes place on Beirut’s ‘Hamra Street’ in the latest episode of the multiple award-winning American TV series ‘Homeland.’ This episode of the show aired over the weekend in the West and portrayed the Lebanese capital as a hotbed of terrorists and random attacks on foreigners.

Reality anyone?

For those unacquainted with Beirut, the real Hamra Street is a bustling cosmopolitan artery where days spent shopping and chatting in cafes give way to a nightlife of drinking and cavorting in local bars. A hub of modern city life, it is Beirut’s much smaller version of London’s Tottenham Court Road or New York’s Fifth Avenue.

Unsurprisingly, the misrepresentation has sparked more than a little ire in the Lebanese government. Speaking exclusively to EXECUTIVE, Lebanese Tourism Minister Fady Abboud has promised to take legal action over the “lies” in the show.

“This kind of film damages the image of Lebanon — it is not fair to us and it’s not true, it is not portraying reality,” he said. “We want to take action, we want to write to the filmmakers and producers and demand an apology. And we are planning to raise a lawsuit against the director and the producer.”

Abboud stressed that he was studying potential legal routes the government could take, but added that he would be willing to take action personally if necessary.

The first series of Homeland, which aired last year, was both a critical and a ratings success, with high viewing figures followed by recognition at almost every major television awards event. The shows stars Claire Danes and Damien Lewis, who won the best actor and actress Emmys, respectively, while the show also took home the coveted Outstanding Drama Series award.

It focuses around a female CIA agent (Danes) who believes that a United States soldier who was captured in Iraq and returned home a war hero has been turned into an informant by Al Qaeda. During the episode in Beirut, Danes is seeking to kill a senior figure in Hezbollah allied with Al Qaeda (despite the fact that, in reality, there is likely more animosity between these two groups than there is between either of them and America).

Minister Abboud said the reach of the show made the misrepresentation even more problematic. “This series has a lot of viewers and if you are promoting Lebanon as a non-secure zone it will affect tourism. It will mean a lot of foreigners stay away if they are convinced by what they see,” he said. “Beirut is one of the most secure capitals in the world, more secure than London or New York.”

The show was not filmed in Lebanon at all, but was shot instead in the Israeli city of Haifa. For Abboud the fact that it was filmed in a state with which Lebanon is technically at war was an added insult. “We would like to welcome the crews here to film in this city — we were offended by the fact that they filmed the thing in Israel and said it was Beirut,” he said.

Misrepresentation’s long history

Lebanese have long complained about the misrepresentation of their country in the Western media. Jad Melki, director of the Media Studies Program at the American University of Beirut, said the portrayal was disappointing but not surprising.

“We have been dealing with this for over a century, the portrayal of Arabs in the US is that we are all Islamists living in the desert, evil and angry all the time,” he said. “If you look at US media, racist stereotypes of African Americans have all but disappeared but it is still acceptable to stereotype Arabs.”

Melki said that because the civil war made Lebanon, and particularly Beirut, synonymous with violence, trying to convince Westerners that the city is a prosperous, diverse place is much more difficult than playing on people’s preconceptions. Even the title of the episode, “Beirut is Back”, appears to be a reference to the city’s troubled years in the 1980s, when car bombings and kidnappings were rampant.

“The civil war version of Beirut is still portrayed,” said Melki. “There is a frame of mind and a stereotype of a certain group of people or place and it doesn’t make sense if we break away from that as the audience won’t understand. So we look for the version we know.”

British Ambassador Tom Fletcher, who has campaigned for Westerners to reassess their perception of the country, admitted to being a big fan of the show but said it was a misleading portrayal.

“Homeland is one of life’s joys, but Lebanon tends to get a rough time from filmmakers — I’d encourage people to see the real Beirut,” he told EXECUTIVE.

Everything sticks

Beyond legal action the Lebanese government’s options for responding to the show are relatively few. Abboud said his office was considering a counter-video in which footage from the show would be inter-spliced with daily images from Hamra Street.

“We also have a campaign to promote Lebanon on CNN which is starting next month,” he said. “It features all the tourism sectors in Lebanon, what Lebanon has and a real picture about Lebanon.”

Melki suggested that if the country were serious about countering Western perceptions then they should spend money on hosting a major American film in the country. In the most recent Mission Impossible film Tom Cruise scales the world’s tallest building — the Burj Khalifa in Dubai — in the kind of advertising deal which costs millions of dollars but can help change perceptions in the West.

“It would be expensive but effective,” said Melki. “Currently the Ministry of Tourism produces videos about Lebanon with lots of shots of the mountains – its not storytelling, its not entertaining. A movie does that, a TV show does that.”

Fiction
Homeland’s  “Hamra Street”
Reality
Reality’s Hamra Street

(via fattouch-deactivated20121111)

 

mehreenkasana:

Made some cards for orientalist, racist, Islamophobic people.

Pew pew pew.

And

Plus

Also

Khatam shud.

 

It’s a lose-lose situation, really. If the Iranians are straight-forward, they’re made out to be rude, demanding and irrational; it they are polite and courteous, they’re made out to be mischievous and two-faced. This is not to say that Iranians should be in any way expected to change their cultural norms just to conform and fit into a Western perception of what is right and convenient. Who is to say, after all, that being direct, straight-forward and to “prize efficiency, frankness, and informality” is always the correct and right way to go about things? It is merely an Orientalist idea that everything Western is proper and correct and that everything from the “Other” irrational, primitive and wrong.

The Mischievous Act of Holding the Door Open – A Reply to Christopher de Bellaigue

In his piece in The Atlantic, de Bellaigue talks about how “mischievously” an Iranian official holds open the door for his European counter-parts, in an attempt to “wrong-foot” them. I mean, really, you sneaky, sneaky Iranian, what business do you have holding open the door for others? 

I was outraged. So I wrote a reply. The above excerpt is from it. So is the following —

This is yet another piece, along with the movie Argo and many, many essays and articles that are appearing trying to express how “different”, “shady, “ambiguous”, “hypocritical” and “mischievous” Iranians  supposedly are. All of this then turns into a backdrop against which Iranians as a whole are demonized and through which war-mongering rhetoric is only further fueled.

(via musaafer)

(via jayaprada)

 

Lately, I’ve been thinking about our retreat from the topic as sadly typical of the double-edged sword problem faced by many of us who write and teach about the Middle East and/or Islam: how can we produce honestly critical work about gender and sexuality without fueling racist stereotypes? One hopes that shedding light on an issue will dispel stereotypes, as they thrive on ambiguity and categorical judgments, but fears that audiences will hear only what they are listening for. This is an old problem, one that has graced myriad conversations at conferences and workshops, the kind of simultaneously ethical, contextual, and methodological problem that refuses to expire. It’s also a multi-faceted problem, where orientalist exoticism, Islamophobia, colonial feminism, and the limits of political alliance combine into a repulsive and sometimes paralyzing mix.

 

Joan Juliet Buck: My Vogue Interview With Syria’s First Lady ›

resistance-episteme:

Arguably the most vile Orientalism I have read in a long time:
“Sheherazade took me through Damascus; in the dark early-evening streets, I felt uneasy. Mustached men stood in our path, wearing shoes from the 1980s and curiously ill-fitting leather jackets over thick sweaters.” 
My biggest fear is that the fashion writer’s aesthetic sensibilities were insulted by the poor people’s shoes. I mean how inhospitable of us Arabs to walk in a rich westerner’s presence looking poor. And they weren’t even vintage 80s! Vulgarians. 
The real gems though were these musings: “”Syria. The name itself sounded sinister, like syringe, or hiss….Syria gave off a toxic aura…I met the devil and his wife…”
So vile is the piece of incoherent racist rubbish that even mainstream journos like CNN’s Hala Gorani have criticized it. The piece has even spawned a new hashtag on Twitter— #countriesbyvoguewriters—which parodies the article with such priceless tweets as “#countriesbyVoguewriters “They tried to make me go to Riyadh, I said, no no no.” And this one “#countriesbyvoguewriters Norway. Neither do they have the will.”

 
thepoliticalnotebook:

Do not worry, hesitant and fearful women of Egypt….Thomas Friedman to the rescue! 
Ew. As FP’s Josh Keating writes: “Is Friedman just being constantly accosted by anxious young Egyptian women seeking his sage advice about the future of their country? Isn’t there anyone else they could talk to?” Perhaps they are need of the wisdoms of a good taxi driver. 
[@ForeignPolicy] [The FP Blog Post]

No surprise. 
Check out our Thomas Friedman tag for just a fraction of the Friedman ridiculousness that we’ve tracked down.

thepoliticalnotebook:

Do not worry, hesitant and fearful women of Egypt….Thomas Friedman to the rescue! 

Ew. As FP’s Josh Keating writes: “Is Friedman just being constantly accosted by anxious young Egyptian women seeking his sage advice about the future of their country? Isn’t there anyone else they could talk to?” Perhaps they are need of the wisdoms of a good taxi driver. 

[@ForeignPolicy] [The FP Blog Post]

No surprise. 

Check out our Thomas Friedman tag for just a fraction of the Friedman ridiculousness that we’ve tracked down.

 

First, while I argue that Islamophobia is a mass ideological formation within American political culture, I examine Bernard Lewis and Fareed Zakaria as archetypes of two competing but dove-tailing versions of Islamophobia. The tropes they deploy can be found in the works of rightist nut-jobs like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer who motivated a mass-murder in Norway, pseudo-academics like Daniel Pipes, “liberal” pundits like Thomas Friedman, or “native informants” such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji.