Welcome, welcome. Gather round. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the Middle East is in town. We have a great spectacle for you. All the way from Istanbul, we have the one, the only…Eerie Erdogan. From the pits of the Syrian Civil War, the Big Bad Bashar Al Assad. Unquestioned leader of ISIS, Baghdadi and the Bandits. From the depths of Iraq, Maliki the Menace.
…this isn’t a show nor are people gathering round to pay attention. The invisible people of the Middle East need visibility. The Middle East is often blanketed by the Muslim stereotype, filled with Arabs or if people can differentiate, Iranians and Turks too. The Middle East like any other continent in the world is diverse and the backwards nature of it has resulted in many of it’s rich different corners being edged out.
1. A Jew
The Arab-Jew Dilemma spans thousands of years and frankly the whole Arab conscious is against anything remotely kosher. Halal is ok though. The Jewish population are often dragged down by the hands of the Zionist lobby of Israel. Another stereotype they are faced with. The human tragedy going on in Palestine right now is nobody’s fault but the two warring factions.
Many innocent people have died at the hands of brutal and stupid bags of blood and bones. I found it very hard to call them anything human. The common theme with the 5 things not to be in the Middle East is that they face persecution and that a proportion of them, in some cases most, have had to leave their homes in fear of their lives and move to a country where it’s ok to be human beings.
2. A Christian
The Middle East is home to the Abrahamic religions and since the Jews aren’t welcome, you can include the Christians too. Apparently, similar to the Jewish population, the Christians are at fault for the West’s history of invading, pillaging and killing around the world. This is what the Middle East thinks. Faith is not a form of political identity but it was first used as an identifier. The early stages of the Islamic religious expansion of the Middle East saw faith being exploited by grouping together a people which was used to manifest power over them.
The Christians of the Middle East are a minority like the Jews who have faced persecution by fundamentalists as well as average Joes or should I say average Jabirs.
3. A Kurd
It finally comes from religion to ethnicity that the minority in the Middle East are the Kurds. Thousands of years of persecution, half of it was internal and the other half was external, nonetheless we see the Kurdish population stretch under 4 states: Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. The Arabs, Turks and Iranians are the dominant ethnicities in the Middle East and all of them have encountered problems with their Kurdish neighbours and in the Middle East when you have a problem with your neighbour, you kindly pick up the phone and call the army to invade, rape, pillage and kill any living thing within the vicinity.
Today we see something worse than what we say yesterday. The Kurds are faced with another enemy and that is the Islamic State. They just recently invaded the town of Sinjar where 200,000 Kurds fled their homes in fear. The death toll in that town alone is unclear just yet but is believed to be in the 2500 to 3000 mark. Many have died from dehydration and hunger in the mountains after fleeing there for safety.
The majority of the Kurds there are Yezidi which is a religion that predates all of the Abrahamic religions. Another reason why they have had minimal visibility.
4. A Woman
From religion, to ethnicity and now even broader, gender. This may not be a case of minority-majority but rather the patriarchal nature of the backward foundation of the Middle East, probably a large part of the world too.
Women in the Middle East are seen in two lights. The first is how beautiful and how strong and how integral they are. The second is how they belong to men and must obey. We can look at Saudi Arabia for instance and observe the female bike riding population as a result of not being allowed to drive cars, this being a recent legislation as some kind of push towards women’s rights. So progressive. Much equality.
One other aspect is the brutal and inhumane tradition of female genital mutilation. This practice is prevalent in the Middle East and Africa. This process include cutting parts of the vagina with a razor in order to desensitise them. This is in attempts to control women’s sexuality, something that belongs to the individual and no one else. The possible effects of these procedures are equally if not worse causing infections, pains, fatal bleeding, inability to get pregnant and complications during childbirth.
This is the decisions and actions of men taking away a natural born aspect of women. It is inhumane. Somalia has a frightening statistic and that is roughly 98% of women there are victims of FGM. That isn’t the only country with percentages in the high 90s; Djibouti, Guinea and Egypt also being in that bracket. These statistics are alarming to say the least.
5. All of the Above or anything that isn’t the majority
Minorities are always at the scope of some sort of conflict or a tainted view towards them. In an area drawn by identity, minorities are created because they do not fill the requirements. As a result they are seen as a threat. Some were originally there. Some are just inhabitants like the rest of them. Some are just unfortunate. Some just make different life choices. Egyptian Copts, Israeli Arabs, Palestinian Jordanians, Algerian Berbers, Saudi Shia Muslims, Assyrian Christians, Turkmens, Baluchis. These are all just a few and the ones that I know of. Not even beginning to mention the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community in the Middle East which is one of the most targeted and oppressed communities there. So bad that it goes unmentioned.
Invisibility is a detriment to not only people but to society. Without visibility, political expression is not seen or heard. At a more basic level, without visibility, the people are prone to a huge deal of persecution and it becomes a matter of life and death. Identity is for the individual and politics has been expanding day by day, century by century to encompass all those by raising visibility for them.
Today is not one of those days for the invisible in the Middle East.