Post 9: The “Other”

The thing that first caught my attention of the film My Escape, was that all of the video was caught on smart phones by the refugees themselves. It made the experience more realistic because it was shot from their point of view. I was shocked mostly because, despite my excessive work with refugees, I still have an image of them being poor and underprivileged. Most of the groups shown in the film however, were middle class citizens like I am. my escapeI was also amazed at how willing many of them were to put their story on Facebook or Youtube. I am used to refugees from say North Korea, who will not let their faces be in a picture or names be used for anything to protect their families left behind.

I appreciated all of the different stories brought together. It did not just focus on refugees fleeing from one country, but from several countries. Not all of them made their way by boat. Some of the families had to walk through the Sahara Desert and its brutal heat. Each story was different. It also highlighted the fact that the people fleeing did not only have to worry about the police, but also the possibility of traffickers or kidnappers. Knowmy escape 2ing who to trust must have been difficult. In every situation, the refugees could only bring what they could carry. Even that was often sifted through by the smugglers or robbers along the way.

The comic in the Foreign Affairs article provides a similar insight into the path of a refugee. It lacked a lot of the detail that the film provided. I appreciated how it stick with just two families instead of several. In this way, we were able to see how things did and did not go according to plan.

Neither film nor article addressed the role of Islam directly. I based on the two, I would not say that it played a huge role in the refugee crisis at all. Both portrayals focus more on the travel section of the refugee crisis and not their arrival into the new country or the reasons as to why they left.

The article, Islam and the West: Narratives of Conflict and Conflict Transformation, describes the story of intercultural confrontation through the Western view and the Middle East. They both have similar views about the other one being inferior. While some views may be present, such as Islam in the Middle East, they are frequently blown out of proportion, the Middle East holds only a small percentage of all Islam. Some views are even conflicting, such as inarticulate women completely covered by veils versus the bellydancers that are both attributed to the Middle East.

The basis for the views are rooted deep in history as each set themselves apart from the “others”. The Christian West often described Islam as the low sinners. Most of the claims made by the Christians were out of being self conscience. The Muslim world cared little about the emerging west until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1492. After this point, The Muslim world began to see the oppressive tendencies of the West as they began to colonize in the Middle East.

The article also describes the story of intercultural compatibility which looks towards the similarities of the groups instead of searching for cultural differences. First, it takes the stress off the conflicts between groups and puts equal importances on conflicts within groups. It is important to recognize the difference. Not every one in the West has the exact same view point, and neither does everyone in the Middle East. By accepting that there are subcultures within the over arching culture, many disputes could be solved. Second, just as tension can be found in history, so can many similarities. Besides the fact that Islam and Christianity stem from the same Abrahamic monotheists tradition, it also brought together the West with the progression of the Far East. The two cultures are intertwine even more so today. There are large Islamic migrant groups living throughout the West as well as western commercialism present all throughout the Middle East.

I agree that intercultural compatibility is a great start to solving conflicts. Conflicting parties often get stuck in the “us” vs “them” mindset and focus on the extremes. As similarities are found, the two parties are brought on to more equal playing fields. It is much more productive to discuss solutions with someone of similar values or ideals than someone viewed as below you.

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