My thoughts on the Islamic world.

Discussion in 'Clean Debate Zone' started by Saigon, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Saigon
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    Saigon Gold Member

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    I'm a lucky guy.

    I've been fortunate enough to have spent time in more than a dozen Islamic countries, usually for a month here or a month there, but adding up to a couple of years of flitting between Jakarta, Damascus, Tirana, Amman and Dhaka, anyway. I have been through the Golan Heights with Syrian soldiers, have been to the Hezbollah HQ and so forth as well.

    So though I watch the news of flag-burnings and bombs like everyone else, I also have my own experiences of being in places like Southern Lebanon and the Golan Heights to balance against what I see on my TV.

    My personal experience of Islam is terrific. I have found people in the Middle East in particular extremely welcoming, friendly and open. I have been invited into mosques, have spent late nights discussing religion, and even spent one day at the beach in Syria being quizzed by a family of thirty about everything from my wife's work to the workings of the EU. I have never experienced any bigotry or hostility towards Christianity, nor towards Europe. On the contrary, I have always been treated with respect and that has extended to my country and religion.

    I have also met extremists, who I have found terrifying. They often struck me as sour, bitter people whose hatred had nothing to do with Israel or anything else. The politics is only an excuse to justify hatred and killing - much as it is in Christian countries like Liberia, Rwanda or El Salvador.

    My conclusion (and this is backed by research) is that 90%+ of Muslims are our allies. They are normal people, they want jobs and good schools and Nike and Nokia and peace. They will never fire a gun in their life. But there is a small hard core who are our enemy, and who are everything people on this board say they are.

    The key thing to understand is that no two Muslim countries are alike. Pakistan and Syria are as different as the US and Mexico, or Sweden and Italy. Some countries are moderate by nature and history (Tunisia, Malaysia, Oman) others extremist by nature and history (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria).

    What I believe we need to do - and what Obama has done very well - is to court the moderates. To offer carrots. This isolates the extremists, and allows moderate Muslims (who are often reluctant to criticise their own people publicaly, much as posters here are reluctant to criticise their own party) to take control.

    Islam is not your enemy. Hatred is your enemy.
     
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  2. BecauseIKnow
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    That's very interesting but what extremists have you met? Any discussions with militants? It might be dangerous to admit that....because western countries can get people in trouble for that...especially in America
     
  3. BecauseIKnow
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    So be careful....
     
  4. Saigon
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    Saigon Gold Member

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    I have met a few Hezbollah people in Lebanon, for a story I wrote on Southern Lebanon.

    I went to the Hezbollah HQ in Bekaa Valley, to their centre in Kfar Kilim on the border with Israel, and to the SLA torture centre and prison just north of their. I was able to meet with and talk to people, but it wasn't easy or pleasant.

    I thought they were insane, and a couple of times it was hard not to laugh in their face when they talk about their beliefs.

    There are also a lot of nutters around Pigeon Rocks in Beirut. Hang out there and you'll meet them all!
     
  5. BecauseIKnow
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    In the USA you can't say that so I won't talk about my experiences with extremists in gaza....I had a lot of questions....i wrote an essay about gaza....but anyways....why wasn't it easy? What were they like?
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  6. Saigon
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    Wow...whatever happened to freedom of speech?!

    My story was published, and I think it is also on my website, so any authority can check into my details fairly easily. I once came through immigration and saw the officer had a magazine with my story in it open on his desk!

    To answer your question - Southern Lebanon is scary. I hired a driver and he took care of me. He knew the people you need to know, and knew who to pass a couple of bucks to. I remember taking photos of my old kibbutz from Kfar Kilim and a kid who looked all of 14 was pointing an AK-47 near my feet and started shouting "No photo! No photo!". A lot of roadblocks where they have some serious firepower and aren't very used to seeing westerners.

    I can relax in Beirut, but not in Sidon or Nebatiya. I don't stay overnight there if I can help it, it's easier to head back to Beirut.
     
  7. BecauseIKnow
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    Yeah I know it doesn't really work like that here in America...but that's normal to me because I'm used to Arabs...and pointing guns is normal there too.... But it's probably because they didn't have their faces covered....in gaza all them are masked and only come out near the night in the dark I was with my cousin we went to pick up food...and then he pointed down a street and said look those are Hamas militants...it was at night and in the dark....they try their best to be secretive
     
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  8. BecauseIKnow
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    How was Amman?
     
  9. Saigon
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    Amman is dull. It isn't an interesting city at all. It's kind of centerless and hilly and difficult to find your way around.

    But away from there Jordan is perhaps the best travel destination in the entire Middle East - the Indiana Jones ruins at Petra, sleepin in the desert where Lawrence of Arabia lived at Wadi Rum, snorkeling at Aqaba and the desert castles close to Iraq....all wonderful.
     
  10. October
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    Interesting observation. I've heard it said many times that Catholicism is around 200 years behind the time, and if that's true then I imagine Islam to be around 1000 years behind the times. What are your thoughts on that?
     

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