The Foreign Affairs The Dispossessed is a shocking article that uses relevant, statistical facts and figures, as well as a comic, to explain the refugee situation in certain parts of the world. This piece is a great analysis of the somber situation affecting our world today. It provides a different look into the crisis by providing personal accounts and insight into situations that most of us will never experience of be able to understand. It initially takes an in-depth look into countries such as Jordan and Ethiopia, which host significant numbers of refugees in the Middle East and Africa. Because of the massive amounts of refugees entering these countries, the economies are seeing dramatic increases in unemployment, lowering wages, famines, and other factors greatly decreasing the quality of life. The article then switches to two separate stories of refugees who plan their escape, sell their belongings, and eventually board the same life raft venturing to Greece. The article transitions to the use of comics to explain their journeys from one country to the next, coming across many different obstacles on their way to Sweden and Amsterdam. The comic is a clever way to depict this story in a way many readers can understand. The drawings and pictures make the story easier to follow and adds a creative element that entices readers to keep reading. Lastly, the article explains the overfishing that has caused a crisis in the city of Joal, Senegal. It provides the view of countries, where many people pity the immigrants, but only want to help them from afar. This comic/written piece is a very thorough and moving analysis of the refugee situation.
Dispossessed is an the identity of the disempowered, but it is a powerful identity.
According to the article, Islam does play a roll. It specifically attributes “the Islamic state threatening to return to the dark ages” as a unique and personal reason for many refugees to flee their homes. Though this article does not go in-depth about Islam as a cause for migration, it does explain that the Islamic state is a cause for many immigrants to relocate to other, safer areas. It is important to understand that not all of Islam is a reason to migrate, just some forms of radical or political Islam that affect governments and quality of life.
The article Islam and the West: Narratives of Conflict and Conflict Transformation tells two very different stories of Western and Islamic conflicts. The first story, Intercultural confrontation, believes conflict between Islam and the West is inevitable based on the following: images of the other, the construction of differences, and the question of hatred.
The intercultural confrontation story is explained by the firm belief that the other group (Islam or the West) is “unassimilable.” They believe the other refuses to integrate into a wider society and are blinded by their perceptions of their own personal greatness. The other is viewed as inferior, and positive interactions are dismissed, while negative interactions are emphasized. The other group is given stereotypes and images which are branded into the minds of the two groups and provide an overall view of each other. For example, Western views of the Middle East and Islam are “intertwined,” and real differences are very much exaggerated. Especially when conflict arises or intensifies, these differences are distorted and further exaggerated, escalating the conflicts. The similar demeaning image both parties paint for the other is one aspect that causes intercultural conflict.
The construction of differences is the second part of intercultural confrontation’s story. Groups define themselves by two things: their positive qualities and contrasting these qualities with the inferior qualities of nonmembers. These differences affect how a community deals with crisis, specifically the meaning of the conflict. In addition, remembered history has a strong role in defining a group, rather than actual history. Islam emerged shortly after Christianity became the most powerful religion, which resulted in Westerner’s giving Islam the identity of the “rival.” In recent times, Islam has been defined as an oppressive, intrusive, aggressive religion that actively partakes in terrorism. In contrast, Muslims didn’t care much for the West/Europe. They believe the West simply left Muslims out of history, and their futures are riding on the backs of their Western counterparts. “Middle Eastern” muslims view the west with “envy and fear, admiration and suspicion.” Their differences characterize intercultural confrontation and the constant conflicts that are arising between both parties.
One question causing conflict is why and whether or not the other party hates them. The article states, “The problem, in other words, has nothing to do with what we are doing, and everything to do with who they are and what motivates them…” The conflict is about conflicting identities and values. The West values peaceful approaches to conflict, while they want to inflict their culture by force. No one specifically hates anyone, they are just different and approach conflicts different than the other. Whether or not we hate each other, and why we hate each other, are often answered with incorrect and misguided reasons. The question of hatred and reasons for conflict causes further intercultural conflict.
Intercultural compatibility believes conflict is not inevitable, and there are solutions to these problems.Constructed by academicians and diplomats, it is defined by: affirmation of shared values, differentiating between revivalism and terrorism, fundamentalism as a shared problem.
First, some of these shared values include values such as “respect for learning, desire for peace, esteem for toleration, and partisanship on behalf of human dignity.” Both Christianity and Islam are fundamentally similar via their creation and adaptation throughout the years. In addition, Islam is present in the West due to migration and integration of communities, and the West is similarly present in the Islamic world. Current disputes between the two worlds have little to do with religion or culture, and can be avoided through peaceful dialogue and goodwill. The first story attributes conflict to cultural differences, this story intertwines culture and politics. Both groups are greatly unequal in economics and politics, which results in arrogance and insecurity.
Second, the second story finds it important to distinguish between revivalism and terrorism. The article states:
Islamic revivalism, a movement to renew the Muslim communities from within through public reaffirmation of Islamic values, and terrorism, the use of indiscriminant violence for political purposes.
It is important to know the spectrum of Islam, which includes parties such as moderates and extremists. Revivalism is the response of weak Muslim societies due to international malaise. Islamic revivalism is determined to be a strong position of redefining who they are as a religion and a religious power. The modern form of extremism should not considered a typical occurrence, but rather a strong response to the feelings of oppression, as well as economic, political, and cultural contradictions. The second story believes revivalism is a natural response to the current state of the Islamic religion, and should not be viewed as a negative movement.
Third, the second story emphasizes the problem of fundamentalism on both sides. Fundamentalism is the “politicization of Nathan C. Funk and Abdul Aziz Said 21 group values and symbols, in which a community takes a subset of basic tenets of a tradition and, either under pressure of insecurity or in the pursuit of political dominance, uses them to seal off others or maintain control.” This problem exists for both parties. A metaphorical distance of Islam and the West generate negativity. These two groups are considered “out of touch” with each other. The driving factors are the symbols which each group has provided the other one with. The misunderstandings and lack of communication have resulted in a relationship based on competition and unwillingness to accept cultural differences. For instance, the distinctive dress of the different cultures provides negative symbols to the other, which drive the wedge even further between these two groups.
Both of these parties affect conflict transformation in different ways. The first story intensifies conflict, and gives little room for conflict transformation. The automatic belief that conflict is inevitable between the two groups provides no answer to conflict. It almost provides an excuse for the lack of conflict transformation, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason. In contrast, the second story gives recognizes tension, but invites many remedies to overcome potential conflicts. Communication and understanding are two large aspects in order to obtain conflict transformation. The West and Muslims need to understand the reasoning for differences, instead of escalating them into situations. The second story affects conflict transformation by making it attainable, while the first story simply disregards conflict transformation as a viable outcome.