It is not true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Some pictures are worth no more than a single expletive because they are mute. For a picture to be worth that many words it must speak. A particular picture from the American military album of operation “Iraqi Torture” seen by hundreds of millions of people all over the world does not just speak-it screams. And every time you look at it it looks back at you and screams in your mind a different thousand words.
I had forgotten about the subject until I read an article in (Ali, Omar, Ermes) with the title” The Invisibility of the Arab Community in Britain” dated 23 March 2002. Here is the intro: “It is hard to believe that a community of immense intellectual and financial input to the British society such as the Arab community is invisible. A community of about five hundred thousand people in Britain (The Economist 1988), of which up to three hundred thousand people live or work in London alone, with approximately 200 banks and financial institutions with 150 billion worth of investment and over 10 billion worth of business (A.S. Bishtawi paper for the third Arab community conference 1999, Directory of Arab-British companies 2001) input to the British society and up to ten daily newspapers and weekly magazines, plus about five satellite and radio stations. Not to mention tens of thousands of medical doctors, engineers, professors, academics, writers, poets, film makers, artists, etc and on top of all that, finance experts, political analysts, social experts and voluntary workers, etc.” Wow! Didn’t Kilroy know this? But then again thank God he didn’t With proper economic conditions and receding hope of an improvement in conditions back home, the immigrant communities gradually begin to transform, over a relatively long period, into resident communities. This was the case for a large proportion of Lebanese and Palestinians in North and South America, and also for Yemenis who resided in Cardiff, Birmingham and other places in Britain. But it is still early for this to happen for a significant part of Arabs who came to Britain more recently. The case of the Arab community doe not differ much from that of others, such as the Jews who came from Germany, the people of Hong Kong, Indians, Banghlashies and Pakistanis. Most of these people came mainly because of difficult political, social and economic conditions in their countries. Their return is no longer possible, even if the economic conditions back home improve, because the new generation has got used to life in Britain. This is what is happening to a large number of the sons and daughters of Arabs in Britain.
Lebanon is a small country of just over 4,000 sq m. with very limited resources. Three years before French forces withdrew in 1946, public senior positions were divided among the various religious communities in accordance with a National Covenant. The Christians, being a majority them, became the most influential. By the 1979 Muslims, with a Shia majority, were in the majority while Maronite Christians had shrunk to around 25%. Muslims began to campaign for larger political and economic share but were resisted because a larger share meant a smaller share for the Christians. The French were the Christians’ staunchest allies in the war against Muslims who were supported mainly by Syria and Iran. A closer identification with the France, as protector, brought along an increased shift to French which was ironic since Lebanese Christians played such a decisive role in the development of modern Arabic. Loyalty to France and the need to be linguistically distinct were additional factors. At the same time there was a progressive decrease in the selection of Arabic because it was the code of their opponents.
I have many ever-fresh memories of my trip to South Korea (Actually the people there prefer the name: Korea as they hope one day they will reunite with the North (Inshallah), but one which I find embarrassing to remember even after all those long years is when I kissed he hand of a lady who […]
Western leaders meet too many Arab rulers so they may be forgiven for thinking all Arabs are corrupt. They discuss “bilateral issues” with visiting Arab rulers so they may be forgiven for thinking all Arab are illiterate. The Arabs, like all other nations, do have their extremists but that does not mean all Arabs are terrorists. The claim by spin doctors that Saddam Hussein is an Arab Adolph Hitler should be ignored and the fact restated that all the heavy weight dictators of a tormented 20th century were neither Arab nor Muslims. Most of the petty ones were, and still are.