Post #9 – Clash of civilizations

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What is your assessment of the Foreign Affairs The Dispossessed article? Does the comic do justice to the refugee situation? Is it a good analysis of the crisis? Does Islam Play a role?

The comic feels almost like a stop motion video because you can read over each part slowly and then piece it all together. I read the entire comic before realizing that it was actually based on a real scenario that had taken place and that many of the words were paraphrased or direct quotes of scenarios that actually unfolded. This made it a lot more powerful because it made the experience seem real. There are so many emotions involved in the voyage that the refugees “decide” to take. I say decide in quotations because the decision to leave is definitely a choice, but it is really picking between the lesser of two evils because both situations are extremely dangerous. One seems to be more hopeful, which is why many decide to leave their home country.

Partway through the comic, after being stopped at the border, one of the men gets extremely angry and says that it would be better to die in Syria then be humiliated like this. I think regret is something that many refugees experience once they make the decision to leave. If it doesn’t work out, of course they are going to feel like they made the wrong decision. Throughout the comic, there is also this idea of deceit running through it. At the very end, one of the men doesn’t have the money that he promised for the trip, so he tells the other man he will be sure to get it to him as soon as possible, but he never does. The entire story is about survival by any means possible, even if this means going against your morals to save your family.

Islam does seem to play a role throughout this short narrative. Hungary’s PM said that they did not want a large number of Muslims in the country, which is why they decided to be strict on allowing refugees in. Part of the reason that the refugees in the comic has such a hard time arriving to their destination was because Hungary closed their borders. So, religion plays a role in the discrimination that these refugees faced along their journey. While their faith kept them going, it also inhibited where they were allowed to go in the Europe.

 Based on the article, Islam and the West: Narratives of Conflict and Conflict Transformation, discuss the story of intercultural confrontation and intercultural compatibility and how they affect conflict transformation.

Many times, the things that we believe we understand about another person’s identity are the things that we actually understand nothing about. Muslims and the West are pitted against each other like polar opposites with nothing in common and with repulsive images of one another that do not depict reality. For instance, Westerners view Muslims as backwards in their beliefs and see extremism as not only an authentic form of Islam, but the most widely practiced. Muslims view Westerners as we would see Hollywood starlets behave with loose morals and pretentious attitudes. While these images are stereotypical, they hold real meaning for each group. Muslims feel threatened by the arrogant and insensitive attitudes that they believe the West holds. These views are the ways in which the West view their economic, political and cultural success as models for the rest of the world. While Westerners may see a need for their presence in other parts of the world to promote these ideals, it can be seen as pretentious to believe that our model is the only one that works.

In addition, Westerns see Islamic revivalism as very backwards and scary, when in many ways it is just an attempt to “Islamize” modernity. It is not a rejection of the modern world as many Westerners believe, it is a way to “personalize” Muslims’ experiences on Earth to match their wants and needs. While terrorism is definitely a byproduct of disadvantaged Muslim countries, it is not a solution to the very real problems that many Muslim countries are facing. Most of the problems that exist between the West and Muslim nations have less to do with religion and culture and more to do with nationalism, gaps in development, and conflicts over territory and natural resources. According to the authors, these issues can be fixed through goodwill, dialogue that understands both sides, and practical problem solving. This may seem oversimplified, but that is only because we are used to hearing these exaggerated narratives regarding both sides that do nothing but reinforce distorted images we hold of one another.

Lastly, one of the most interesting things from this article was each side’s idea of what peace is. In the West, we understand peace as an absence of particular conditions – absence of war, terrorism and violations of human rights. Muslims believe that peace signifies a presence – presence of justice, self determination, and social equilibrium. Peace is the same, yet explained differently in both groups. After hearing the difference, I actually like the Muslim interpretation better, but if I had never heard it, I would have assumed that the West’s interpretation was more accurate based on the image that I hold about non peaceful Muslims in my head. Peace is a proactive situation, which means that in order to attain it, both sides have to be open to dialogue and understanding. The West and Muslims do have common values that include education, desire for peace and tolerance for all. We must stop viewing each other as homogenous groups because the “West” and “Muslims” are such broad categories that have so much diversity within them. We must ensure that we do not get trapped in our own narratives because this is when people begin to feel their own identity is being threatened and they begin to justify their fear and behavior towards the “other group.”

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