The Rights Of Arab Citizens Essay Example
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The concept of ‘human rights’ establishes the idea of equality among all human beings. Despite the human population’s differences in terms of age, gender, culture, and socio-economic status among others, we are all human beings. Consequently, as human beings, we have common or shared rights that allow us to coexist peacefully with other people and without threats to our safety and wellbeing. One of the main issues concerning human rights, however, is that existing and prevalent systems or practices such as cultural beliefs or traditions, and political policies or practices limit people from enjoying their rights. An example of which is the way that the Arab population is treated in society because of Islam and patriarchy prevalent in Arab society.
Considering the foregoing issues, the main objective of the succeeding discussion is to explore and understand how culture and religion are factors that limit or deprive Arab and Muslim populations of their human rights. Various aspects of culture and religion – cultural practices and traditions in the Arab world and Islam – limit human rights. To narrow down the discussion, it will focus on two main issues – cultural stereotyping of Arab populations due to misguided views and opinions about Islam and the prevailing patriarchal society in the Arab world. Both issues illustrate that limiting or depriving Arabs and Muslims of their human rights occur within and from outside their community.
Cultural Stereotyping and Islam
One of the main points raised in an English student’s blog is cultural stereotyping. According to the author, cultural stereotyping is prevalent in American society despite the United States being a multicultural nation. El-Ghobashy (167) shared her own experiences on cultural stereotyping. As an Arab American, El-Ghobashy knew how it was like to be stereotyped because of her appearance (i.e. wearing a headscarf). People often made assumptions of where she was from or what she was supposed to or about to do because of her appearance (El-Ghobashy, 167).
The outcomes of cultural stereotyping in the US have significantly affected both Arabs and Muslims living in America. The aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center (WTC) and damaged other institutions in the US is proof to widespread cultural stereotyping in the country. Many Arabs were stopped in the streets or in airports. Some groups also blamed Islam for perpetuating terrorism. Moreover, any individual who appears to be Arab or Muslim were subjected to discrimination and prejudice. For this reason, some people associated Islam and Arabs to terrorism.
People fail to realize that although majority of Arabs share the same religion – Islam – not all people agree on the interpretation and observation of Muslim beliefs and traditions. Some Islamists are extremists, which shows in the way that they approach (Mikdashi, 182) religion and the West. Extremists are the ones that engage in terrorism. Although Extremists are Muslims and majority of Muslims are Arabs, it is important to remember that not all Arabs are Extremists or Muslims. Hence, not all Arabs and Muslims are terrorists (el-Din Hassan, 41). This idea is evident in the conflict in Arab nations where groups and communities hold different beliefs and traditions, thereby causing animosity among them. Most Muslims, for instance reject extremism and civil liberties groups aim to topple regimes that impose unjust policies that engender inequality in the community (Hermez, 183).
The result of cultural stereotyping is the deprivation of Arab and Muslim populations of their rights. In Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, several anti-terrorism policies infringe upon the rights of Arab populations living in these countries. As counterterrorism measures after 9/11, the authorities implemented ‘stop-and-frisk’ policies whereby police officers were authorized to stop anyone in the street or in public spaces including airports. Police officers then proceed to ‘frisk’ them or search their personal belongings. Many people consider this policy offensive because it perpetuates abuse of power on the part of police officers. Furthermore, it is a violation of human rights because of the way that Arabs and Muslims are directly targeted in the streets.
Overall, the issue of cultural stereotyping illustrates one aspect of the argument. The denial of human rights among the Arab and Muslim population come from outside their community. Nonetheless, this phenomenon also occurs within the Arab community. Existing cultural practices in Arab nations also curtail the rights of citizens, especially women. This argument will be explored in the succeeding section.
Women’s Freedom and Rights in the Arab Region
In another blog post, an English student also raised another important argument about women’s freedom and rights. The author pointed out that the main source of discrimination and gender inequality in the Arab region is patriarchy. Essentially, patriarchy refers to male dominance in society. Although gender equality has come a long way, inequality still exists until today. The author cited different examples that show gender inequality such as unequal pay for men and women in the workplace with the latter earning less than the former. Opportunities are also limited for women in the field of education. Other events that show inequality is the way that women are treated in society. The perpetuation of the ‘rape culture’ and victim blaming of women are testament to the prevalence of patriarchy in society.
In Arab regions, gender inequality exists due to unequal opportunities made available to men and women. Men dominate the population in universities, for instance, because women do not have the same amount of opportunities when it comes to education. This also applies to the situation of men and women in the workplace. In large scale companies, the boardroom is dominated by men so they make most of the decisions and impose them in the workplace. Consequently, this creates inequality in the workplace because most decisions and policies favor men. Only a few women are given the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder in the Arab region.
Abuse against women is also a common plight among Arab citizens. Dress code applies to women. Muslim women are not allowed to dress provocatively or choose how they want to dress in public. Furthermore, they are not allowed to travel or drive on their own without a male companion. Abuses against women are also left unresolved. Rape, including marital rape, are often dismissed and criminals rationalize their actions by blaming their female victims for being ‘provocative’, for tempting them, or for testing their patience, among other unjust reasons (Mikdashi, 393). Overall, the foregoing discussion shows that even within the Arab community, populations especially women are deprived of their rights because of a patriarchal society that is bolstered by culture, tradition, and religion (Mikdashi, 393).
Abuses against Arab women led to their involvement in several initiatives to fight for their rights. Moghadam (89) cited various instances wherein women mobilized the female Arab population along with their supporters and worked with civil rights groups to ask for gender equality and just treatment in Arab society (Moghadam, 89).
The foregoing discussion illustrates the many ways that Arab citizens are denied of their rights within and outside their community. It appears that regardless of the environment they are in, whether they are within or outside the Arab region, they would still be deprived of their rights. Outside the Arab region, particularly in Western countries such as the US and the UK, Arab citizens are discriminated against because of their religion and cultural stereotypes. Since terrorists claim that they commit atrocious acts ‘in the name of Allah’ or because of their religion, others believe that all Muslims are terrorists. Consequently, since majority of Muslims live in the Arab region, they believe that Arab citizens are also terrorists. As a result, they are discriminated against because of their race and religion in the way that they are treated.
Similarly, Arab citizens are discriminated against in their own community. This idea applies particularly to women who are being treated unfairly within their communities. The Arab region is a patriarchal society, which means that it is dominated by males. As a result, cultural practices favor men while placing women in positions secondary to men. Furthermore, many women are abused and are expected to follow rules and guidelines that do not apply to men. Simply put, women are expected to follow rules set by men, while men are not expected to follow the same rules they imposed among women in Arab society.
Overall, discrimination and abuse against Arab citizens occur within and outside their community. Outside the Arab community, Arab citizens are discriminated against as a result of cultural stereotyping and the inability of people to understand Islam as a religion and separate it from the actions of terrorists who falsely claim that Islam is their motivation to instigate fear in various parts of the world. Within the Arab community, discrimination also exists particularly against women because of a patriarchal society that sets limits and controls the actions of women.
El-Din Hassan, Bahey. A Question of Human Rights Ethics: Defending the Islamists. In A. Chase and A. Hamzawy’s Human Rights in the Arab World. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
El-Ghobashy, Mona. Quandaries of Representation. In R. Abdulhadi, E. Alsultany, & N. C. Naber’s Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2011.
Hermez, Sami. On Dignity and Clientelism: Lebanon in the Context of the 2011 Arab Revolutions.
Mikdashi, Maya. Sexual Violence is a Crime, Sometimes. In R. Rantissi’s After Words: A Reader for Academic Writing. Educart, 2012.
Mikdashi, Maya. What is Cultural Terrorism? In R. Rantissi’s After Words: A Reader for Academic Writing. Educart, 2012.
Moghadam, Valentine. M. Women, Citizenship, and Civil Society in the Arab World. In A. Chase and A. Hamzawy’s Human Rights in the Arab World. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
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