Don’t Be a Victim

Yes, we have a discrimination problem. Racism, regionalism, tribalism, sectarianism, etc. You name it. We have it. Discrimination in many different forms and on many different levels. It is good that we are finally acknowledging this problem. But acknowledging it is not enough. We have to confront it. We have to work on it.

Ali al-Mousa wrote about this in al-Watan last week. He admitted that we have this problem, which is great. But then he followed this with another admission, one that was rather shocking and disturbing to me. “I’m the first to practice discrimination in marriage and tribe, for instance, and I will inherit this to my kids, as a will and a way of life.”

Some might read that and think: what a brave admission. But is it, really? I understand that we all have our prejudices, but simply admitting that they exist will not take us anywhere, it will not move us forward. What is the difference between those who deny the discrimination and practice it, and those who admit it’s there but also practice it? It is good to know our prejudices, it is great to talk about them, but it is fighting and not acting on them that truly counts.

I find it scary that an intellectual like al-Mousa feels comfortable about justifying discrimination for himself (and probably his readers as well) simply because he thinks we are all “victims of a long legacy of social hierarchy and the weight of tribe.” I refuse to be a victim. We should all reject this twisted logic. I wonder, if people like him, supposedly leaders in our country, do not push for change and start with themselves, how can we hope for anything to ever change?

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29 thoughts on “Don’t Be a Victim

  1. I find it scary that we still live in a society where we practice a religion that prohibits such thinking on the one hand, and yet we do it anyway. It’s like we prefer to stay victims to our own prejudices, and we never want to break out of our shells, we fear going against the community and being branded ‘outcast’.

    I ask myself everyday if my religion really intended for us to stagnate intellectually, morally, ethically, socially, etc., or if it urges us to take the first steps and challenge even those things that we are told are unquestionable.

    We keep shooting ourselves in the foot. We want to hang out with the prettier people, marry into the wealthier elite, etc. believing somehow that it will rub off?, and that marrying a person of a darker shade will somehow prevent our progeny from succeeding in life, or that we will be ‘dragged down’. I mean, I’ve met many people who say “hey, I’m all for eliminating discrimination. However, I would not allow my daughter/son to marry into these ‘lesser’ races”.

    It’s like we still think the way our grandfathers and grandmothers did.

  2. I agree that mere admission that one holds prejudices is insufficient.

    Moreover, I agree that the practice or actions based on prejudice are more serious than merely harbouring such prejudices within one’s mind.

    However, I believe that a focus on marriage is counter-productive.

    We should eliminate prejudice in all impersonal relationships, such as employment, and others.

    We must first, therefore, recognise that our clerical establishment opposes this, and installs affirmative prejudice on the basis of religion, gender, and many other factors.

    With regard to a personal relationship, such as marriage, however, I believe that the situation is more complex.

    I believe that a love marriage is best.

    As such, it is necessary that there indeed be such love.

    Thus, if one, however illogically, cannot summon love for another, even if the reason is based on prejudice, one should not marry despite the lack of love.

    Contrarywise, I believe that tribe, etc. should never be a bar to marriage either.

    A question that I would pose is what should we think about marriage between different religions?

    I know already what our clerical establishment would say, so I am not interested in that perspective.

    For example, there are many Indian workers in our nation who practice a polytheistic religion.

    Should prejudice in marriage extend to such individuals?

  3. Hey, at least the guy was honest. :-/ Still it’s sad that he not just plans to practice discrimination but teach it to his children as a way of life. Ugh. The cycle continues.

  4. If you feel that strongly about discrimination, where were you when your friend Carol allowed that discriminating piece that trashed all the tribes of Saudi to be published in her blog?
    Don’t preach on us please if you’re going to be selective.
    It is the ultimate hypocrisy!

    • This is my blog and this is where I put my ideas. I have nothing to do with whatever Carol publishes on her blog. If you think you can hold me accountable for what she writes just because she is my friend then you are wrong. If you have a problem with what she writes then go and tell her that, don’t come here to bitch about it. Preach? Please.

  5. Your choice of words is not acceptable.
    You have to respect yourself by respecting others.
    You can’t write If you can’t control your temper.
    I feel sorry for people like you. 

  6. I do think that recognizing one’s prejudices is a partial step forward, since the hardest people to deal with or to change are those who are blind to their own beliefs. However, the seeming tone of acceptance of one’s prejudices and the plan to consciously transmit them as a heritage are disturbing. They undermine the sense that there is true insight, rather than intellectual insight only, ie the kind of insight that does motivate true changes in behaviour, including what one teaches to others, including readers, and to children or other family or tribal members, whether by words, or deeds, or as in this case both.

    The question of interfaith marriage is a interesting one, and one that I have researched. Since I am more aware of interfaith marriages across Abrahamic religions, or across major divisions within one Abrahamic religion (eg. Reform/Conservative Judaism, Catholic/Protestant Christianity or Sunni/Shia Islam), I was very surprised to read research on marriages across sects within a division, like Baptist/Methodist within Protestantism, or even within a sect like High Anglican/Low Anglican, described (and lamented) as being “interfaith marriages” . It seems some can discriminate to a very finely honed distinction.

    Islam/Hinduism, as an example of crossing the monotheistic/polytheistic divide, would seem to be a challenge, not so much for the individuals concerned but for society. Yet there is a Saudi Muslim/Indian Hindu couple in the blogosphere who has successfully managed this, in part by choosing to live in the US.

  7. I don’t know of a single country that has completely eliminated discrimination, But my country is the only country in the world that include dicsrimination in the law. We have just recently stopped legal slavery. I agree with Susanne 430 that the writer was honest about it.
    We are long way from working on discrimination . Let’s start first with issues of human rights.

  8. @ SaudiAspire:

    Don’t come down here Comparing other blogs. The message was simple & you have to ruin it. Good idea! Ahmed’s talking about Discrimination & you’re setting an example of discriminating your own people.

    This is afterall a blog where people share their thoughts so weather you like it or not. Its their story not ours.

    I’d do the same thing on my blog but unfortunately i’m no blogger.

    Peace !

    oh yeah… before i forget:

    Ramadan Kareem to you all brothers & sisters out there!

  9. @Abs Yasin

    You obviously got it wrong. I never compared nor would I ever compare blogs.
    All I did is ask Ahmed about a simple comment he could’ve left to voice his disagreement and protest discrimination against any and all.
    I asked him that because I know he follows the other blog and because he came down so strongly against discrimination here.
    I have fought against discrimination for many years. To me it’s a personal issue that has nothing to do with color, religion, or culture. It is simply a matter of principle.
    You can’t select your battles when it comes to discrimination. You have to fight each and everyone of them and meet the challenge head on until the war is won.

  10. Well it got personal the both of you & forgot that everyone is watching.

    This is Ahmed’s blog so he can say & do anything he wants.

    Consider it as his property.

    We have to respect that & if you guys have personal issues better settle it for the both of you.

    We should not be fighting each other with messages.

    Besides, its Ramadan.

    Give it a break.

  11. I really don’t understand where you’re taking us with this comment @Abs Yasin
    Blog discussions are always heated. They are always strongly opinionated. And they are always open. The owner and the participants voice their opinions in a free manner. All parties can write whatever they want. It isn’t a one way street.
    I never toke what Ahmed said “That I bitch about it” personally. But I didn’t agree with his choice of words.
    So please @Abs Yasin give us all a break and try to make a difference by elevating the discussion to it’s original status and leave the chitchats to the social networks.

  12. Question:
    How come arabic fathers do not want their daughters to fully enjoy life? Are they just the slaves of their brothers and future men?
    How is it possible not to love your children equally much?

    I met a girl, 12 years of age?, in my town in Sweden yesterday. I asked her if she performed Ramadan?
    – No, she said firmly. I´m a free girl here in this country. I do what I want, and I don´t want Ramadan. Next year I will be an artist.
    And she laughed.

    I was so relieved to see her exposing her free will, and not the will of men surrounding her, or that of a man living 1400 years ago.

  13. woman (free!) from Sweden:

    I would urge you to not generalise regarding Arab fathers.

    Arab fathers are like European fathers. Just as one famous European Austrian father raised his children in a dungeon, most European fathers are warm and kind to their daughters.

    It is the same with Arab fathers.

    There is no set of data to suggest that Arab fathers love their daughters any less than European daughters.

    I believe that discussion of the role of ladies and daughters is perfectly appropriate, especially because of the unpleasant state of affairs for many ladies in our nation.

    However, one must not suggest that Arab fathers love their daughters less.

    In addition, truthfully, one must not generalize regarding all Arabs based on our nation.

    Morocco is different than Egypt and Saudi Arabia is different than Lebanon, yet all are Arab.

    It would be like saying that Icelandics are the same as Bulgarians, because all are Europeans people.

    So, let us not discuss Arab fathers.

    I believe in freedom of conscious for adults, and if a woman wishes to not be religious, then she must be free of compulsion regarding religion.

    However, I do not agree that such freedom extends to a 12 year girl.

    Just as children can be mandated by their parents to go to school or to eat healthy food, so too can they be mandated to engage in religious activities.

    Indeed, I believe that in Sweden it would be viewed as irresponsible if a parent provided a child with complete adult freedoms.

    With regard to this 12 year girl following the will of a man who lived 1400 years ago, I would simply note that the official governmental religion of Sweden follows the will of a man who lived 2000 years ago.

    And, many Swedish parents require that their 12 years children participate in religious holidays based on the will of that 2000 years ago man.

    So, why should Islamic parents be forbidden from doing the same in Sweden?

    We must not have a double standard — one for Moslems, and a separate standard for others.

  14. i co-sign everything that andrew said. Fasting during Ramadan is no different to following or observing Christian rituals, ie Lent. It doesn’t determine your level of freedom or liberty. While some in my family are religious and choose to fast, I’m not and so I don’t. To each his own. Also, SaudiAspire what is your problem with Ahmed…speaking out against discriminatin should always warrant a positive reaction, not a negative one. I don’t know what the carol article was about, but I’m sorry he doesnt patrol the internet, commenting on every single blog post he might disagree with

  15. Andrew, than you for your answer. I agree in many ways, let´s not give different names to eachother, after all we are ALL only human.

    Yes, Jesus is older than Mohammed, but you do know of course that we are a very much secularized society, where everyone can believe what he wants and there are not many dogms. There is a danger when religion becomes full of commands, what you can do and what you can´t, don´t you think?

    Of course we have indiputable values; like the right to live,right to speak, the indisputable command not to harm any other living person – BUT apart from that, why should someone from centurys ago be able to tell us how to live?

    “Do to others what you would like to see done to you” – that´s Jesus. Isn´t that enough?

    Apart from that; let´s raise our children(girls AND boys) in love and respect, to dance and to sing and maybe play a little football. Read a good book.
    But above all; LOVE
    Best regards.

  16. A tribal thingy ..I don’t know when comes the time that we saudis will accept the fact that woman marriying someone from outside tribe is accepatable,,right now it is not that welcomed , not only in Saudi but in variuos other neighbouring countries as well .I guess when we create a country that is democratic with human rights and women right to the top ,then and only then we are going to see some mixed marirages

  17. I also second Andrew’s comment, and would add that the vast majority of fathers world wide love their daughters and want the best for them, even if they sometimes seem to make choices for them that fall short.

    My Arab Muslim FIL gave his daughters the same educational opportunities as his sons, and then gave in to their crying to marry them to the men of their choice (he wanted them to stay in school/career a little longer before marrying), and to the divorce of her choice in one case, forfeiting the alimony due.

    I think the 12 yr old Afghani Swede was indulging in tween/teen i and mmigrant family rebellion and will probably blend cultures better over time no matter what she decides with an adult (ie neurologically fully developed) rather than a child’s brain. Hopefully she gets through adolescence (immature brain, more mature body, and generally not as good impulse control as adults) with minimal negative adventures.

    Ideally, a secular society provides freedom of religious practice as well as the freedom not to be religious.

  18. woman (free!) from Sweden:

    Thank you.

    You ask:

    “There is a danger when religion becomes full of commands, what you can do and what you can´t, don´t you think?”

    No.

    I believe that there is a danger when religion controls government.

    So long as there is no compulsory religious practice for adults, then I do not believe that a religion with many rules is a problem.

    If followers are dissatisfied then they can leave such a religion.

    You later ask

    ““Do to others what you would like to see done to you” – that´s Jesus. Isn´t that enough?”

    I disagree with your assessment of Christianity.

    Jesus also said (Gospel of Matthew 10, 24) “Do not suppose that I came to bring peace to the earth: I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

    Thus, I believe that the notion that Jesus and Christianity are inherently peaceful is incorrect.

    Indeed, the history of Christian nations has shown that they do not lack war-making interests.

    I agree with the notion that we should all act with mutual respect and tolerance, and that we should allow for freedom of conscience.

  19. Andrew! interesting.
    I completely agree; Christianity has not been a peaceful religion at all. We have a dark history. But that doesn´t mean that islam must make the same mistakes.
    Live and let live!

    But have you heard of constraint/coercion? To me it seems that islam is full of such things; rules that make up your day. Fall to you knees, pray in that direction, X times a day…
    To me that doesn´t seen healthy. Constraint diminishes your life.
    Do you think I´m wrong about that?

  20. While eagerly awaiting Andrew’s reply, I would say that ritual is a part of all religions, and of some (eg Catholic) more than others, as is life guidance. Voluntary submission is different from coercion or constraint, and Islam recognizes the voluntariness of Muslims (those who submit) including the need for it to be after the age of greater awareness, eg after age 6-7.

  21. woman (free!) from Sweden:

    You ask:

    “But have you heard of constraint/coercion? To me it seems that islam is full of such things; rules that make up your day. Fall to you knees, pray in that direction, X times a day.

    Do you think I´m wrong about that?”

    I have heard of constraint.

    Many philosophies and religions suggest that followers engage in acts of limitation, whether it be fasting practiced by Buddhists, the limits on harming animals practiced by Jains, the monastic practices of Christian monks and nuns, or the ascetic practices of Sufi Moslems.

    So, if your question is whether Islam espouses ascetic practices, the answer must be yes.

    However, if your question is whether Islam espouses such practices for their own sake and without consideration of a moral dimension then the answer must be no.

    Yet, I would also say that Islam is a very broad and vast religion.

    Thus, what a person who follows Islam as practiced in a cave in Afghanistan may believe will be very different than a person who follows Sufi mysticism in turkey, and both of those will be different than those who believe in the Islam of many in Iran, etc.

    These differences also exist within Christianity, Buddhism, etc.

    So, Islam espouses both practices but also an ethos.

    Of course, it is easy for foolish people to only engage in outward practice and to neglect the ethical dimension in their following of our religion.

    I do not, therefore, believe that constraint diminishes life, and I do believe that you are wrong.

    Rather, I believe that excessive constraint diminishes life.

    Practitioners of monogamy constrain themselves in Sweden, and yet I would guess that there is little clamour for polygamy in Sweden.

    Practitioners of constraint in the realm of time spent labouring and time spent in recreation in Sweden, I would guess, would neither opt for an absence of constraints in their hours worked (thereby being endlessly at work), nor in their hours in recreation (thereby being endlessly on vacations and away from productive labours).

    Indeed, much of the advocacy in Europe for toleration appears to be advocacy for constraints — for moderation in neither being too unconstrained by limits, yet not being too constrained either

    Thus, I believe that much of life should be based on an abstemious approach.

    Constraints are a part of such an approach, and are good when done in moderation.

  22. Constraints that lead to something GOOD might be okey; like if you don´t live out all your sexual desires for example. Constraints that tell you to obey a book by the letter, written in another time and another ancient culture , seem to do more bad than good to people,

    Polygami? Of course you mean the choice of many partners for BOTH men and women? Not so desirable I should think, not in my country anyway, neither for women nor men.

  23. woman (free!) from Sweden:

    Yes, so polygamy (not polygyny) is not desirable in Sweden.

    That, too, is a constraint.

    Thus, we agree, constraints are not bad, as a matter of inherent principle.

    You say:

    “Constraints that tell you to obey a book by the letter, written in another time and another ancient culture , seem to do more bad than good to people”

    Our religion is not a literalist religion in most of its forms.

    Thus, our religion does not tell followers to obey a book the the letter.

    There is a broad and vast literature of Islamic interpretation and jurisprudence, exactly because it is not a religion that requires adherence to the letter.

    As to another time, well, I would offer the thought that the statute books and constitutions of many countries is filled with requirements that were written in a different time.

    A different culture also applies to many old statutes, inasmuch as times long ago were culturally different than now.

    Yet, many laws written a century in the past remain in force in many countries.

    I see your objection more based on the specifics of the laws, rather than based on principles.

    In other words, I see your objection to be fundamentally with either religion generally or perhaps with any religion that is generally practiced outwardly in an intensive way (such as is common in our country).

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