x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

A reader comments that Middle East diversity goes back centuries

Letters to the editor touch on auto safety, fasting as protest in India and the "boyat" culture.

A cross and a Quran are held up during demonstrations earlier this year in Cairo's Tahrir Square. A reader praises the centuries-old ethnic and religious diversity of the Middle East. Schaib Salem / Reuters
A cross and a Quran are held up during demonstrations earlier this year in Cairo's Tahrir Square. A reader praises the centuries-old ethnic and religious diversity of the Middle East. Schaib Salem / Reuters

The article Arab Spring is 'threat to Christians' (June 16) quotes an Indian academic as saying: "Due to historical colonial design, most states of the Middle East are multi-ethnic."

The fact that most countries in the Middle East are religiously and ethnically diverse has absolutely nothing to do with colonial design. Christians, Muslims and Jews have co-existed throughout the region in every major population centre for well over 1,000 years. What "colonisation" is he referring to? The Ottomans? The Seljuks? The Muslim conquests? Alexander the Great? Or is he seriously suggesting that in the wake of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the brief period of modern European colonisation was responsible for deliberately "designing" the complex state of Middle East cities and societies?

The region has a remarkable history of ethnic and religious diversity. Embrace it, rekindle its strengths, draw upon its example of building open, tolerant and equitable societies. But please can we stop trying to apportion blame, particularly when it's in such a historically twisted way?

Carlos Holstein, Abu Dhabi

Don't give keys to unlicensed drivers

The news article Three die in traffic crashes (June 16) reported that a 17-year-old without a driving licence collided into another car, killing both drivers. Who is allowing unlicensed teenagers to drive ? Driving standards are poor enough in those who have passed a test and been granted a licence without having unlicensed and inexperienced teenagers behind the wheel. Some of them don't seem to know the difference between video game driving and reality.

Whoever gave the car keys to the teenager is as responsible as the driver for these deaths. The real tragedy is the innocent lives that are lost and the families that are devastated because of irresponsible behaviour.

Jacqueline Curran, Dubai

The Palm Jumeirah's Golden Mile has become a racetrack for noisy sports cars. Why not install more speed bumps at closer intervals to frustrate incorrigibly errant juvenile drivers?

Amit Bhattacharjie, Dubai

The reasons behind fasts

In reference to Yoga guru quits 8-day hunger strike (June 13), even though Baba Ramdev has now broken his fast, the issues he raised regarding gross malfeasance in public office merit solemn attention.

Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev fasted against corruption to highlight imperative underlying issues in India. The common people are exasperated with corruption and do not know what to do next. Hence they are resorting to hunger strikes, which were deployed by Mahatma Gandhi against the British. The fasts by Mr Hazare and Baba Ramdev received pervasive support from the media, students and social and political figures. This showed that someone has picked up the gauntlet for the ordinary man.

Initially four senior ministers scampered to greet Baba Ramdev at Delhi airport to dissuade him from the fast. Later the government deployed the police to break up the gathering of the guru's supporters. This gives the impression that the ruling party is panicky.

Even if Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev are silenced, they have lit the lamp of protest. Others will carry on from where they left off and continue the protest for a clean India.

Instead of trying to silence the voices against sleaze and unaccounted wealth, the government should take these issues on board and address them head-on. Otherwise, the government will give the impression that it has something to hide. This will muddy its image and cost it greatly at the next elections.

Rajendra K Aneja, Dubai

Reactions to tomboy memories

I know this comes a bit late, but I just came across Rym Ghazal's opinion piece on the boyat subculture My tomboy days when I was a rebel with too many causes (May 12). I enjoyed reading it so much that I was left with little choice but to respond.

Having lived in the United States my whole life, the idea of sunglasses and watches being masculine was a new concept for me. I grew up believing that around the world sunglasses and watches were unisex (and mostly practical) accessories. I also grew up hearing my male peers make fun of soccer (or as most people call it,"football") for being a girlie sport. It's good to learn something new.

In any case, I don't think the trend is going to change anytime soon. The gender binary will continue to become less structured and confining. Societies' definitions of the genders are always changing. Let's not forget that around 2,000 years ago, the average Roman man would have considered trousers a feminine article of clothing, worn only by the "barbaric" Germanic tribes.

Anyway, I look forward to reading more from Rym Ghazal.

Clara V Lozano, US

 

In reference to Yoga guru quits 8-day hunger strike (June 13), even though Baba Ramdev has now broken his fast, the issues he raised regarding gross misfeasance in public office merit solemn attention.