Thursday, December 01, 2005

North Africans, Turks and pride

Pride of "face" as Asians call it, is very important. To Westerners. To Asians. To Blacks. To Middle Easterners. Cultures have different ways to deal with face. Christianity warns against the dangers of being prideful. Western culture therefore does not have a well thought out code of pride. For Asians on the other hand, face is everything and it more or less completely guides their approach to social interaction. Before other considerations Asians will think whether a certain action visited on them will take a way their face or increase it. And they will be anxious to increase the face of people they have relations with. And avoid to cause loss of other peoples face, unless they are opponents or enemies.

A way to deal with hurt pride or injuries to face is by apology. For Westerners and Asians apologies are a way to repair the damage done to someone's face. This repairs to restore social bonds that have been damaged by wrongdoing. An apology is an act of selfhumiliation to make up for an act that humiliated another. In cultures influence by Islam's Arabic Tribal code a man is not supposed to humiliate himself, unless someone else is stronger and more respected. That can only be another Muslim or a very strong and brave Christian or Jew, who Islam regards as "people of the book". Atheists of pagans do definately not qualify. Women: are you joking?

When manure happens, as so often in life, this means that Muslims have huge trouble to make the amends that must be made in order to restore harmony in a relation.

Still, we must avoid to unduly generalise. Difficulty to face up to guilt and apologise differ amongst Muslim groups and amongst Muslim individuals.

An anecdote to illustrate to illustrate the different levels of pridefulness between differrent Muslims. I have a friend from Turkey. Let us call him, Mehmet. O well, let 's call him Suleyman. I do fancy that latter name.

Recently I was invited by Suleyman to accompany him to a Eid celebration at a Morroccan mosque. Eid is the feast that ends the period of daily fasting, Ramadan. "Why at a Morroccan Mosque, Suleyman?" I asked him. "Well", he says "I always go there for Eid and they got good food. Sometimes there is even meat." He would call me when he was there as the Mosque is close to my house. I would then walk to the Amstel river were he would meet me and we would go to the mosque together.

So on Eid evening he called me and I walked to the river. When I met him near the river he laughed apologetically and said: "We are going to drink tea". "Do you like this pub?". I nodded my approval and followed him into the pub were we sat down for tea. He carried a big suitcase made for carrying perhaps a musical instrument. The Pakistani pub owner came from London judging from his accent. He was a bit taken aback by our request for tea.

As the tea was prepared I looked at Suleyman for explaination. "I have been thrown out of the mosque" he declared with a laugh. "One of the elders of the mosque had demanded that I leave the mosque shortly after I had come there. He thought I was a thief or mafia because I was carrying a strange suitcase which could contain loot or an assault rifle. When I spoke to defend my honor the elder started fighting and I thought it better to leave of my own volition".

We laughed. That was ridiculous. Suleyman is a reasonably respectable importer of Turkish leather goods. He quite happily forges labour contracts in order to secure bankloans to give the money to his needy elder brother, but shooting or stealing are BAD.

Thereafter we spoke about all kinds or subjects including his visit to a Turkish private medical clinic and the detoriating state of Dutch state run health care.

In private I pondered the state of panic the Morroccans in The Netherlands are in. As shown by the frantic fury of the mosque elder, who removes a worshipper on the merest suspicion of criminal activity. Morroccans used to be the most hated and despised minority groups for the last 20 years already. Before that people thought they were Turks. That was their golden age.

Yesterday Suleyman called me again. We spoke about several things and he mentioned that he had told his Morroccan friend Hassan about the incident at the mosque. Hassan is a Royal Dutch Airlines employee, working as a bookkeeper. He belongs to the same Islamic group as the Mosque that Suleyman was removed from.

Hassan is now furious with Suleyman. He has broken off the friendship with Suleyman and refuses to answer calls by him. Suleyman has offered his apologies on voicemail, but Hassan is still not picking up the phone, not to mention calling back my Turkish friend.

Almost all Morroccans are unable to even admit there is a problem with the young men in their community. That young Morroccans are overrepresented in Dutch prisons and that young Morroccans ethnically cleanse Dutch people and other ethnic groups from some neighbourhoods (Diamant neighbourhood on the Western bank of the Amstel river), that Morroccans rape and sexually harrass girls in swimming pools and on the streets. That they groom girls for prostitution. That they are the mainstay of the groups of terrorists, such as the Hofstadgroup or the Taqfir. Morroccans in politics refuse to admit this when interviewed. They are extremely defensive when their group is critizised for wrong doings and they do a lot of things wrong. Their inability to even take cognizance of the facts and discuss them is very striking. The first time I was introduced to Hassan by Suleyman I made a joke about the passage in the Qoran that says under which guidelines a husband should hit his wife. Hassan denied it was even in the Qoran!

Now that his Mosque has embarrassed him, he will not even acknowledge THAT fact and cuts of all contact with a fellow Muslim for having put himself (Suleyman) in a position to embarras the Morroccan community. It is very difficult communicating with people who are so prideful. It is very difficult for them to mend their ways when all discussion is impossible.

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