November 14, 2006
Rack Your Brains
In a democracy, the media often twists a reasonable statement into a ridiculous soundbite which gets propagated widely, and causes unnecessary defensiveness on the part of the speaker. A far bigger problem, however, is that not enough people challenge the ridiculous claims of speakers in authoritarian countries (or indeed by speakers in the so-called free world about faraway places that their populations know little about).
Prince Nayef, Saudi Arabia's interior minister, recently repeated an old excuse for why women in his country aren't allowed to drive- distances between towns are so large that women would not be safe. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to list other public explanations for behavior on the part of Middle Eastern leaders (or other leaders on the subject of the Middle East) that are just as removed from ground realities.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
ha ... that's easy:
-- before the last elections, hosni mubarak of egypt's slogan was that he should be elected because the country needed reforms. reforms of ... a system over which he'd presided for the previous 20+ years?
-- hafiz al-assad & son: syria will have its first free elections the very next day right after the golan is liberated.
and the beat goes on ...
Here was a good one from Egyptian officials cited in the NYT with reference to anti-sexual harrassment protests:
"Another clerk told a reporter, “After you left the last time, state security came in and asked if we spoke to the press and demanded that we not speak to anyone.”
Recently, reports surfaced on Egyptian blogs, on television and in newspapers that groups of men had roamed the city streets during a holiday weekend and attacked young women — actually chased them down in packs. There were accounts from witnesses and victims.
But in the culture of Egypt’s one-party state, the charges were received as a critique of the security services. There was no collective soul-searching, no government call for an investigation. There was, instead, adamant denial followed up by state-sponsored intimidation of potential witnesses.
“What those sick people described humiliates all Egyptians,” said an official with the Interior Ministry, who asked not to be identified. “You think Egyptians would see something like this happening and stand back and watch?”
Posted by: SP at November 15, 2006 04:50 AM
In Morocco, there is this constant obsession with anything French - the outside world is confined to France, and sometimes to the US. One amusing declaration was made by a discredited party leader, opposing proportional representation in parliament (because it would be harder for him to buy voters), with the argument that no Western democracies - by which he obviously meant the US and France - had it.
Another of my favorite silly excuses here in Morocco is when a comparison is made with Tunisia in the social or economic area (where Tunisia is far ahead of Morocco, as opposed to the political domain) - the automatic response from any Moroccan is to say "well, it's easier for them, they're a smaller country" - which doesn't explain in that case why Mauritania or Libya aren't setting the pace in the Maghreb...
Posted by: Ibn Kafka at November 19, 2006 08:42 PM
The US has proportional representation?
Posted by: matthew hogan at November 19, 2006 11:38 PM
'course the US doesn't, but many European democracies do have PR at some levels, e.g. Germany and I believe the Netherlands too.
Posted by: SP at November 20, 2006 02:12 AM