In the wake of recent news which saw an unarmed, innocent Emirati male subdued and handcuffed by armed American police officers, it’s clearer than ever that misconceptions about the Middle East are on the rise.
US presidential candidate Donald Trump has openly expressed his unfavourable opinion towards Muslims, while Britain’s recent exit from the EU has incited a number of anti-immigrant and racist rallies from groups of angry Brits.
So in an effort to shoot down ignorance, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of some of the most common Middle Eastern stereotypes, and why they’re wrong.
All Arabs are Muslim
Arabs are an ethnic group, not a religion. There is a significant population of Arab Christians throughout the Middle East and Northern Afric, particularly in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine.
Islam oppresses women
In the Quran, it explicitly states that men and women are equal in the eyes of God. It also instructs Muslims to educate daughters as well as sons, and insists that women have the right to refuse a prospective husband.
“And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women.” (Quran 2:228)
Muslim women are forced to cover up
Muslim women aren’t necessarily forced to wear full abaya, it’s a matter of faith and personal choice. Many Muslim women are strong, independent individuals who’ve made the decision to cover themselves up – as are those who chose not to wear the traditional garments. Read blogger Wafa Yahya put right the stereotypes about women who the hijab.
Muslims are unaccepting of other people and religions
Freedom of thought is paramount in Islam. Everyone has a right to live freely – and to treat those of other religions with the moral values that the Quran teaches. “God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just.” (Surat al-Mumtahana, 8)
Also, speaking of being accepting, have you ever been to a Muslim family’s house for dinner? It’s like visiting your grandparents. You’re leaving with a full stomach, or you’re not leaving at all.
Here’s a video looking to find out the truth about Muslims from expats living in an Islam country.