Archive for the ‘Intercultural issues’ Category
I am sure you are, as we all are most of the time. Change is a constant part of our lives, along with the messy conflicts and confusions that it often creates. For many of us, change is even more than that: we try to change structures of injustice or create innovations that touch upon the lives of others.
If you want to deal constructively with change then give this advice a thorough read:
Below, a short talk by Cynthia Schneider on the Afghan version of the “Idols” series. She demonstrates how the show has become a means of social change, especially for women, and how the content is culturally re-appropriated.
Also check out here a lengthier talk by Schneider on Western pop culture re-appropriation in the Middle East more generally. She discusses examples such as hip hop or the effects of the show 24 (select the video by Schneider and scroll to minute 30).
Some reactions by the victorious camp in favour of the ban on minarets after the referendum on Sunday, 29 October:
“Forced marriages and other things like cemeteries separating the pure and impure – we don’t have that in Switzerland and we don’t want to introduce it.”
Ulrich Schlüer, co-president of the Initiative Committee to ban minarets.
“Society wants to put a safeguard on the political-legal wing of Islam, for which there is no separation between state and religion.”
Oskar Freysinger, member of the Swiss People’s Party and a driving force in the campaign
“People who settle here have to realise that they can’t turn up to work in a head scarf or get special dispensation from swimming lessons.”
Toni Brunner, president of the People’s Party
(all quotes from SwissInfo)
If one listens to its initiators, yesterday’s referendum was not about the construction of new minarets in Switzerland at all. The organizers of the campaign admit quite frankly what was really rejected: their image of a Muslim religion and culture and what they perceive as an assault on Swiss values.
With only four minarets existing in the country is hard to argue that the referendum is justified. Yet, the campaign poster speaks a clear language where minarets are used symbolically for a hostile attack: missile-sharp minarets riddle a Swiss flag. The rationale behind the campaign is “a” culturally pure Switzerland and “a” hostile culture of Islam.
So as of Sunday, the Swiss have joined the exclusive club of Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan as the world’s only countries that have laws which to prohibit the construction of towers on religious buildings (In S.A. and Afghanistan, it’s Christian churches though). With the outcome and implementation of the ban, Switzerland breaches the European Convention on Human Rights and is likely to face expulsion from the Council of Europe.
Just to be clear: a debate concentrated on issues (dispensation from swimming lessons, head scarfs, etc) is necessary for communities as a negotiation of shared communal values. However, in such debates the majority often drifts of to racial and cultural stereotyping of minorities. It looks as if the anti-minaret campaign is the most extreme example of this in a European country to date.
The question that the organisers of the winning side will have to ask themselves is whether their success will really help their goal of driving back “traditional Islam” and the construction of “parallel societies”.
The campaign has highlighted a massive stigma of Muslims in Switzerland as culturally inferior and ultimately unwanted. On top of that, Muslims will now be more marginalised than ever before. Discrimination will no longer be limited to the social level but also reflected in the legal structure as soon as the words ‘the construction of minarets is prohibited’ will enter article 72 of the Swiss constitution.
With this decision, the liberal and integrated majority of Muslims in Switzerland is under attack and extremist groups will gain momentum. If the initiators of the referendum were genuinely interested in the integration of religious and ethnic minorities they would see the outcome of their campaign as a catastrophe.
Another great talk from TED, this one just up today from TED India.
Devdutt Pattanaik of Future Group aims to explain common misperceptions and misunderstandings between Indians and westerners. To do so, he takes a look at the mythology that underlies western and Indian culture. He explains why western linear thinking isn’t a universal logic, why there is no concept of harmony in Indian music – and he tells the story of Alexander, the conqueror, and the Gymnosophist, a naked wise man, who thought of each other as fools.