Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chris Stevens and the Arab Street

Tom Friedman does a roundup of some interesting reactions to the Muhammad video riots, from publications in the Arab world. A sample:
The Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef wrote in Al Shorouk, translated by Memri, on Sept. 23: “We demand that the world respect our feelings, yet we do not respect the feelings of others. We scream blue murder when they outlaw the niqab in some European country or prevent [Muslims] from building minarets in another [European] country — even though these countries continue to allow freedom of religion, as manifest in the building of mosques and in the preaching [activity] that takes place in their courtyards. Yet, in our countries, we do not allow others to publicly preach their beliefs. Maybe we should examine ourselves before [criticizing] others.”
Maybe things are really changing in the Middle East. We'll see.

This seems as good a time as any to bring up Memri, which Friedman refers to. The Middle East Media Research Institute provides translations of articles that appear in the Arab press. According to their web site:
MEMRI's work directly supports fighting the U.S. War on Terror. Highly trained staff thoroughly translates and analyze open-source materials that include television programming, radio, newspapers, textbooks, and websites. Every single day, MEMRI receives requests from members of the U.S. government, military, and legislature. Since September 11, 2001, the demand for this material has significantly increased – providing thousands of pages of translated documents of Arab, Iranian, Urdu, Pashtu, Hindi, Dari, and Turkish print media, terrorist websites, school books, and tens of thousands of hours of translated footage from Arab and Iranian television.
And little 'ole us can access a lot of this stuff, too. Most of the items translated there don't hold out that kind of hope for the Middle East, however.

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