Transforming Perspective


I heard a story on SPU campus that shocked me: from what I remember, a female student who is Muslim had wanted to protest Ferguson in light of recent events, but chose to consult a teacher first to see if it was a safe decision. This woman had an acute fear of repudiation and even prosecution in light of a past experience she had in either a middle school or high school in Seattle with a bullying incident. Another boy at her school had been unrelentingly harassing her on the grounds of her Arabic ethnicity, telling her that she was related to Saddam Hussein and was by association a terrorist, to which, after much aggravation, she rightly responded to with a punch that alone challenges today’s gendered perceptions of the oppressed Muslim girl. The case was taken up to the principal’s office where it took an infuriating turn of events. Long story short, police showed up to thoroughly investigate whether the bully’s thoughtless and racist accusations in regards to the girl’s relationship with Hussein were true. This Seattle school took the bully’s word – the thoughtless jibes of a kid – over her, the real victim here. And apparently everyone overlooked the true nature of this occurrence as plain old cruel harassment that had no substantial grounds for threat. tumblr_nfbh4ml1Yi1sesaigo1_1280Post 9/11 the Western perspective of the Middle East is still severely marred by the single story characterized by ‘fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism.’ However, there is hope for a transformed way of seeing. The impetus is located in the various creative forms of local revolt and protest against autocracy that is budding in Middle Eastern regions. As a case study, Morocco is a phenomenal example of the Arab Spring movement, from the fiery stories of Fadwa Laroui to the incredibly courageous film work of Nadir Bouhmouch to right now, where I’ve heard about Moroccan youth putting together a professionally crafted video of young Moroccan rappers declaring the utmost importance of voting and encouraging the next generation to actively take part in blossoming forms of democracy. We need to begin listening to these kinds of individuals who are fighting for their own rights and start to rectify our perceptions shaped largely by Western media that has chosen to designate narratives that never do justice to the full story. If anything, we need to bring attention to ongoing anti-Arab racism as well that seems to serve as this age’s current blind spot.



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