Thursday, May 5, 2016

Reflection 7 Review of the Course

Over the course of the semester, I learned a lot about the Arab World- some of it I expected to learn about, and other parts I did not expect.

My goal at the beginning of the semester was to better understand the Arab world other than just what is presented in the media, particularly on the news channels and I did achieve that. I learned about Arab contributions to western culture that, even though I think I knew a few of these, I did not understand the extent of which Arabs improved and advanced western culture. I also learned more about Arab music and arts- particularly through the drumming session- which I enjoyed because I wanted to better understand Arab culture as well. I also gained a better understanding of Islam and its practices, before starting the class, I knew that Islam did not preach the things that radical Islamist terrorist groups claim that it does; however I did not know the extent to which Islam calls for peace and working issues out through mediation. I also did not know how progressive Islam is, especially in regard to how women were treated and the rights they were given and how it was only the patriarchal systems that were in place before the Quran that kept it from giving women more freedoms.  

I definitely think that I have gained a better understanding on the Arab World and a lot of the issues it is facing right now; however, I also recognize that there is still a lot that I do not understand or understand fully that would require a lot more study to firmly grasp. Two examples of this are the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the war in Syria. I now know a lot more about refugees from Syria and some of the causes of the war itself; including actions the US took that actually aided Assad in his gaining of power. I am also aware of the complexities of negotiating peace with the war in Syria, especially since Russia has now begun to aid the Syrian government.  I was aware of the war in Syria to a degree, however, I was only slightly tangentially aware of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict before this class and so now I now know a lot more than I did before. Both of these issues have root causes that date back many years and have many factors making them difficult to try to solve- this is considering that there are probably other factors to this that I am still unaware of.

I think that I learned a lot from this class about the Arab World including its culture and some of the conflicts and issues it is facing right now. What I have learned has made me even more aware that there is so much that I still do not know about the area. I enjoyed the class an getting a different perspective on this area that one typically does not get from western media, especially in the US and it was eye-opening to learn about things that I had never seen mentioned before.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weekly Report 8: Arab American writer

Diana Abu Jaber is an Arab- American author of Jordanian descent on her father’s side. She was born in New York State on November 5, 1959 and lived there until she was seven years old, at which time she and her family moved to Annan- Jordan’s capital city. During the following years, they moved back and forth between America and Jordan several times. She got her Bachelor’s Degree at the State University of New York College at Oswego in 1980, her Masters at University of Windsor in 1982 and her PHD at the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1986. She has been a professor at Iowa State University, University of Oregon, and Portland State University and has been a guest on radio shows including one on National Public Radio.

                Her first published work was Arabian Jazz, a novel published in 1993 that she won the Oregon Book Award for and got a nomination for the PEN/ Hemmingway Award. One of her best known works is Crescent for which she won numerous awards and other recognitionsThe Language of Baklava have also received awards and have been lauded. Other works of hers include Origin, Birds of Paradise, and contributions to Dinarzad's Children: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Fiction, The Literary Cookbook, Why I’m Still Married, True Stories from the Mid-Life Underground as well as several periodicals.
including the PEN Center Award for Literary Fiction and the American Book Award. Other works of hers such as

Diana Abu- Jaber is an extremely talented author whose works are highly lauded and influential as well as being very enjoyable to read. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Weekly Report 7 Arab- Americans

Dr. Michael DeBakey was a world-renowned and extremely skilled cardiovascular surgeon.  He was the inventor of many crucial surgical devices as well as the pioneer of several different kinds of surgery and performed thousands of cardiovascular surgeries over his career.

            He graduated Tulane University’s School of Medicine in New Orleans in 1932 at the age of 23. That same year, he invented the “roller pump” a pump that would later be instrumental in the performance of open-heart surgery. DeBakey also joined the military during WWII and inspired the creation of mobile army surgical hospital or MASH units that saved thousands of lives even beyond WWII, in Korea and Vietnam.  His work with the US Surgeon General’s office also inspired the hospital research system that the Department of Veteran Affairs used.  He served as the advisor to many presidents and worked to start the National Library of Medicine. DeBakey performed over 60,000 cardiovascular surgeries over his career on both famous and well-known people as well as those would not be able to afford the surgery.

            Dr. Debakey received many awards such as the American Medical Association Distinguished Service Award, the Presidential National Medal of Science- given to him by Ronal Reagan, as well as many honorary awards from various universities and other organizations. The most notable award he received was the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction in 1969 which is the highest award a US citizen can receive.

            Some of the surgeries and medical devices he pioneered include the first successful coronary artery bypass, the first successful implantation of a ventricle assist device and others. He- in conjunction with Robert Jarvik- invented the Jarvik artificial heart. He later helped to create a heart pump that could be used in children who needed it.

            Dr. Michael DeBakey was an incredible man and doctor who unfortunately died at the age of 99 in 2008- two months before his 100th birthday.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Weekly Report 6 Alaa Al Aswany and His Role in the Revolution in Egypt

The article entitled “Writing the Revolution” by Wendell Steavenson was published in the New Yorker in January 2012. It discusses the life of Alaa Al Aswany, his writings and political views and how those affected the revolution in Egypt that led to the removal of President Hosni Mubarak from office and the later Tahrir protests.

Aswany is best known for his 2002 work “The Youcoubian Building” which rapidly became a best seller and was lauded for the direct was it confronted the political issues of the time that Aswany was addressing.  While most other Egyptian authors stayed away from mentioning social and political issues, Aswany attacked the corrupt regime of the time directly. He believes that literature should relate the lives of the people- politics he says is a very important part of people’s lives especially for those who were living under President Mubarak. After “The Youcoubian Building” became famous, there were many attempts to manipulate Aswany through threats and attempted blackmail to get him to stop speaking out against the regime- these were unsuccessful.

Aswany is also a very outspoken political activist and was very active in the Tahrir Square Protests where many protestors were shot and killed by Security forces. After the first protest and battle in Tahrir Square, Aswany became very prominent in the media, proclaiming the start of revolution and speaking against the Military council who was trying to stop the revolution and manipulate the new constitution being written. In the parliamentary elections during this turmoil, there was an upswing in Salafi Islamists who were elected. The protests began again later that December and the Army was “becoming even worse than Mubarak’s time” according to Aswany. Threatening actions started to be taken against Aswany again and again he refused to let that stop him from his political activism saying that a writer needs to be involved in the world that they are writing about.

Alaa Al Aswany is a very politically active writer whose books, essays and short stories as well as his own actions served to inspire the Egyptian people to rebel against corrupt or oppressive regimes to enact change.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reflection 6: Dr. Leahy's Lecture

In her lecture, Dr. Leahy focused on covering the reasons that there is anti-American sentiment in the Arab World and how this came about, particularly in relation to the US’s unconditional support of Israel even in light of their numerous Human Rights violations. The negative view of the United States stems from this support of the Israelis as well as other dictatorships even though they engage in tactics that are illegal by International Humanitarian Law and result in many deaths particularly those of civilians.

                The United States claim to stand for democracy, globalization and human rights for all, however their hypocrisy between their statements and their policies lead to resentment in the Arab World and understandably so.  The globalization that is so acclaimed in the western and developed world is very limited and restricted in developing nations and is reserved only for very few at the very top leading to relative deprivation for the rest of the population as they are able to see the opulent live led but are unable to have even a small portion of the benefits their leaders enjoy. Democracy is also a huge point of contention in the Arab World because even though the US and UN say they support free and fair democratic elections, if someone wins who they do not like- like in the case of Hamas winning in the first open democratic election in Palestine. Although they claimed to support these elections, as soon as Hamas won, the UN leveled Sanctions against Palestine and cut their funding. Human Right violations are also rampant in the Arab World particularly by the Israeli government. The US supports the Israeli government and vetoes any potential action that could be taken against them in the UN like in the case of Battle of Jenin where the IDF went into a refugee camp and destroyed homes and killed many. The UN wanted to take action against them; however the US vetoed the motion so it did not pass.

                Dr. Leahy’s explanations behind the resentment directed toward the US as well as her characterization of the US was accurate when looked at in relationship to what was happening in The Arab World particularly with their relationship to Israel. The unconditional support and backing of Israel in all of their actions is causing resentment toward the US in the Arab World and is serving to only increase the tension in the region without helping anything. The presence of the United States could be a beneficial one in the region; however, the US needs to genuinely align their policy with what they claim to stand for. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Weekly Report 5: The USA and The Arab World

The article I selected was entitled “US undermining Iran’s banks-Khamenei” and was published by the BBC on March 20, 2016 in regards to remarks made by the Iranian Supreme Leader- Ayatollah Ali Khamenei- alleging that the United States was working to hurt Iran by working to undermine the banks in Iran and hurt their economic growth.

He believes that The United States is going back on their deal made with Iran concerning nuclear weapons and the economic sanctions placed on Iranian companies and individuals who were responsible for them.  The sanctions were originally in response to Iranian ballistic missile tests and they were lifted as part of the Iranian Nuclear Deal; however Iran carried out more tests in March.

            Iran states that the missiles are merely being used as a method of deterring other nations from attacking them and this method of having weapons such as these are a fairly standard way of doing so. Since the missiles could potentially reach US military bases in the region however, the United States is concerned about the presence of the missiles.

            The reason behind these accusations is the difficulty faced by many banking transactions had between banks in Western nations that are influenced by the US and banks in Iran. Khamenei says that the  US’s status as a world superpower and the influence that comes with it is to blame for these difficulties and that they United States is purposely causing these difficulties to hurt Iran. He also stated that statements made by US politicians who are running for president worked to paint a negative picture of Iran as a villainous country.

            Ideally, what the Iranians wanted from the nuclear deal was their economy to grow and this could happen with less sanctions and more business, however, it will not be the immediate and rapid boost that is clearly desired by the Iranian government.

            This article shows the USA’s involvement in The Arab World in a political and economic way. The US had been involved in Sanctioning Iran and even after the sanctions have been lifted, there is still suspicion, at least in Iran that they are still meddling with Iranian financial affairs. Whether the transactional issue are a result of US intervention or not, the suspicion shows the influence that the US has in the region.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reflection 5: The Field Trip and Carol Zaru's Talk

The Arab-Israeli conflict is one marked by many years of struggle and bitterness and as such, there is not an easy answer for how the conflict can be solved. There are steps that can be taken toward a peace, however, without cooperation from both parties, there is no guarantee that they will help fix the damaged relationship between the two.

One step that needs to take place is that the method of Israeli military occupation needs to change. The situation faced by those in Palestine is inhumane and does not protect the rights of the people living there as the occupiers are supposed to do under International laws as was stated in the talk given at The Palestine Center. Carol Zaru’s presentation helped to show specifics of the experiences had by Palestinians living under occupation: curfews imposed without warning, checkpoints and the threat of detention by Israeli authorities, power and water being cut off for unknown periods of time as well as bombings. All of this lends to an atmosphere of fear that needs to change if there is going to be movements toward genuine and not artificial and forced “peace”. As the Israelis do not appear to be willing to change of their own accord, international pressure needs to be put on them.

Another major factor is that the international view on Palestine needs to change- particularly that held by the United States and many European Nations. They – the United States in particular- favor Israel and write off their atrocities as justifiable and regard the Palestinians who are living in oppression as terrorists. This view needs to change; this can be done through better and less biased education about the area. These nations need to learn about the struggles Palestinians face and put pressure on Israel to change.

If the method of occupation and international views change, there is more of a chance for an open and equal dialogue between Palestine and Israel that could lead to matters of contention being resolved in a way that is – although maybe not favored by both parties, is at least fair to both parties. Any negotiations done up to this point have been heavily favoring Israel and as such do not do any real, permanent, lasting change in the direction of peace in the area. Only if both parties are treated the same and there is no favoring of either side, can there start to be work toward solving problems in a way that is fair to both and may help to ease the tensions.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Weekly Report 4: Israeli- Palestinian Conflict

On the afternoon of Friday, March 25, 2016, Israeli Occupation Forces attacked protesters who were non-violently protesting the Israeli apartheid wall as well as illegal Israeli settling in Bil’in village and in Ni’lin village. These protests had been happening on a weekly basis and were continually peaceful. The IOF used gas bombs containing tear gas and excessive force against the protestors causing many to be injured. The protestors in Bil’in were composed of locals of the area, international protestors and Israeli protestors. All were treated in the same brutal manner as they were attacked while marching through town protesting the occupation of Palestine and the need for an independent Palestine. They also took a stance of solidarity with Belgium people in the aftermath of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels in addition to all people suffering from terrorism.  
The leader of the Popular Committee against the Wall and illegal settlements in Bil’in condemned these attacks to the press by comparing the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the terrorist actions suffered by many countries across the world. These attacks however are happening on a daily basis where Palestinians are kicked out of their homes and property and the Israelis are then confiscating these seized lands.
In Ni’lin, the Israeli Occupation Force also used excessive force against peaceful protestors protesting the same topics. They fired gas bombs containing tear gas at the protestors as well as in the direction of cars and houses, causing many people to suffer from inhaling the gas. Other Palestinians in Bethlehem and Kafr Qaddoum town were injured after a violent encounter with IOF forces who also used tear gas and sprayed them with waste-water mixed with chemicals.

Although actions similar to these have probably been happening for a while, these specific attacks appear to be a fairly recent development in the conflict. I noticed while reading this article, links leading to two article taking place the past two weeks that are essentially the same as this article detailing similar attacks. This attack is just the latest in a string of attacks against these peaceful protestors and shows the brutality that the Israelis use in their treatment of Palestinians, especially those who oppose the way they are treated.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Reflection 4: Lecture by Dr. Boukras

I found Dr. Boukhras’ lecture to be very enlightening about radical Islamist groups, especially about the circumstances surrounding their rise, particularly that of ISIS. ISIS rose to power through many factors and actors- largely its enemies- making missteps and increasing sectarianism. ISIS started its rise with the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and gained traction when troops pulled out after not completely destroying all parts of it. Iran's funding of Shia militias as well as increasing sectarianism as well as Assad's radicalization of the war on terror and Russia's involvement in the Arab World, particularly in Syria, are also factors that have helped ISIS to gain a foothold in the Middle East.

Their claimed constituency is Sunni Muslims, particularly those who live in Shia- controlled Iraq and Syria under very oppressive regimes. Their ideology is to help those oppressed Sunni Muslims. Dr. Boukhras described the Sunnis as “a majority with a minority complex” which I thought was very interesting especially considering that the Sunnis are a majority of Muslims however, especially recently, Shia Muslims are the ones making gains and winning- albeit somewhat controlled- victories while the Sunnis keep failing and being marginalized and killed by Shia. Because the Sunnis cannot find inspiration- even by looking at nations that are ruled by Sunnis- they look elsewhere and found a source of inspiration in ISIS which is experiencing victories. ISIS’s main goal is to improve the lives of Sunni Muslims, even though they have very little to offer politically, have a very archaic view of how society should be run and are only in control of the places they have because there is a power vacuum left there by the Shia government.

Those who join ISIS do not usually do so for theological reasons; they join because they are looking for direction and inspiration, feel wronged by the society they are in, or to be a part of a larger group that they feel are actually accomplishing their goals. The members of the movement are generally young, and the majority of the members are youth who as a whole, reject their parent’s Islam and have a different perspective of how it should be. Dr. Boukhras even pointed out that many of those who are recruited do not know Arabic and because of this, get their information about Islam from books other than the Quran and that many of them were initially not religious and then became religious in a “born again” fashion that quickly changed to radicalism. The theology of ISIS and similar radical groups is very different than mainstream Islam or what the Quran promotes, so these groups tend to scorn and be isolated from mainstream Muslim society.

I enjoyed Dr. Boukhars’ lecture about Islamist radical groups very much. I learned a lot about their motivations as well as the motives of people who join and how these groups have become enmeshed in the politics of the Middle East and how difficult it will be to stop Islamist radical groups.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Reflection 3: Concert and Drumming Session

I greatly enjoyed both the concert and the drumming session with Jon Seligman and Massamba Diop; I unfortunately had to leave the concert early, however, I was able to see the first half including the part where Dr. Esa got pulled up to dance. It was very entertaining to watch and although the movements were just a very basic movement of the hips, they were –for the most part- on the beat to help emphasize the main beats and was a fun way to involve the audience and help to increase their energy. The concert was a very engaging and very high energy experience.

                It reflected the description of Arabic music from the reading where a focus is placed on polyrhythmic patterns and on improvisation.  From what I could tell at the concert and at the drumming session, there was a basic form to the song; however, they appeared to be improvising over a basic beat. Massamba Diop also appeared to be improvising some with his singing that he was doing over the songs. Some, like ‘Waloo Waloo’ clearly had been performed before and definitely had a basic format, however with others; he appeared to be improvising the majority of his vocalizations.

                The polyrhythmic tendencies of Arabic music were also apparent in the drumming of Jon Seligman and Massamba Diop. There were several different rhythms going on at the same time, almost all four players were playing at least some variation on a basic rhythm and together, they formed a completely new distinct rhythm as well adding lots of texture to the piece.

                The drumming session was very informative; it was very interesting to learn about the backgrounds of the three main musicians. I enjoyed learning about their views regarding different topics like Islam and how the media has affected their traditions and culture.

                The concert was a lot of fun to watch and the drumming session was very interesting to be a part of; I enjoyed both of them greatly and it was a lot of fun to be able to be a part of the session as well as attend the concert.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekly Report 3: Musicians of the Arab World

Asmahan was an actress and singer of Syrian descent believed to have been born in 1918. Her name by birth was Amal El Atrach before she changed it for the stage later in life. Her father was a member of the famous Druze family of Al-Atrash and her mother- who helped introduce her to singing was a princess. After her father’s death when she was six, her family moved to Cairo where her mother helped her and her brother develop their talents of performing. Her brother, Farid El-Atrash, also became a famous performer. She married several times and had a child; however she divorced her husbands because she enjoyed having her career.

Her debut was at the Cairo Opera house at while she was still in her teens.When she became famous, she mainly sang in classical Arabic or Arabic with Egyptian Influences.  She performed in many musicals such as “Gharam Wa Intiqam”.  Due to her interest in European music, many of Asmahan’s songs had a European influence.  

Asmahan was believed to have been a spy for the British during World War II. She acted on behalf of the British to speak with the Druze to convince them to allow the British to march through their territory without any opposition so that they could go on to oppose the Nazis. The Druze complied, and Asmahan was paid 40,000 British Pounds for this service.  The British made a promise to the Druze concerning the freedom of Lebanon which they did not follow through on, so Asmahan tried to contact the Nazis in Turkey, however she was caught and deported to Lebanon.

Asmahan died in her early thirties due to a car crash that many believe to have mysterious or even suspicious circumstances and as a result, there were many rumors concerning the situation and possible reasons behind her death.


Asmahan. n.d. Web. 26 February 2016. <>.

Lemon, Jason. Google honors mysterious Arab singer Asmahan on 103rd birthday. 25 November 2015. Web. 26 February 2016.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reflection 2: Guest Lecture by Dr. Deveny

I found Dr. Deveny’s lecture to be very interesting and enlightening about the period of time when Spain was under Islamic control. This is a period of time that was not really covered in other history classes I have taken before college so it was very interesting to learn about what happened during that time and that there was such a period of advancement during the Dark Ages of Europe.  I found it slightly ironic that the most important and enlightened city in the world at the time- Cordova-was on the other side of a mountain range from the rest of Europe and its era of extreme ignorance and regression in terms of science, art and architecture.

I did not realize how many Islamic contributions to Spain and Spanish culture that can still be seen today which I found to be very intriguing. For example, I had no idea that Arabic had such a large influence on the Spanish language. I also thought it was interesting how the song he played for us during the lecture had code switching in it from Spanish to Arabic, showing that the Spanish people and the Muslims once lived and got along well together. There were also contributions of architecture, such as Giraldat and Alhambra with the Generalife which are still able to be seen today.  
Unfortunately, even with all the advancements in art, science, math and architecture as well as the many new crops and agricultural improvements that the Muslims brought with them and the relative peace that was experienced under their rule, the Christians in the north violated the peace treaty both parties held and kicked the Muslims out.  I can slightly see what the monarchy of the time was trying to accomplish by causing the Muslims and the Jewish people to convert or leave, however they did end up “shooting themselves in the foot” as Dr. Deveny said in reference to one third of the population of Valencia leaving.

Overall, I found the lecture to be very informative about the time of Islamic rule in Spain or Al-Andalus and I enjoyed it a lot.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Weekly Report 2: Arab and Muslim Contributions to World Civilizations

The article I found was put out by the Muslim Heritage Awareness Group and the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation about the Millennium anniversary of the death of Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi. He is considered to be one of the Muslim World’s greatest doctors and has made huge contributions toward medical science, especially surgery. He lived between 903 and 1013 and became an extremely talented and skilled doctor and surgeon in his lifetime.
Many people traveled great distances to be taught by him and his book  Al-Tasrif Li-man ‘Ajaza ‘An al-Ta’alif , the 30th volume, was used as a medical resource well into the late 18th century. Al-Tasrif Li-man ‘Ajaza ‘An al-Ta’alif volume 30 was a comprehensive volume on the many aspects of surgery, it was illustrated and had detailed images and descriptions of the many different procedures and tools that could be used for surgery. It contained information on many kinds of surgery including pediatrics and gynecology as well as details on what could happen after the surgery-specifically complications- and how best to deal with those aftereffects. This book became a vital resource to European practitioners of medicine when Gerard of Cremona translated it into Latin in 1150.

Although there were other volumes of Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi’s al-Tasrif, they were never edited and did not become widespread in the way the 30th did and remained unusable by the general population. At the end of the 1200’s, a Latin translation of the 28th volume on simple drugs was done. In 1963, two men named Sami Khalaf Hamarneh and Glen Sannedecker worked to translate the 25th volume of the al-Tasrif, the contents of which discuss how to make as well as the use of ointments in medicine. In 2004, the first two volumes of al-Tastrif were edited and published by Dr Sobhi Mahmoud Hamami and there was a lot of excitement concernin the possibility of learning more about Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi and his medical ideas and practices. Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi was a huge contributor to the modern world of medicine, especially surgery as his book was used long after his death and influenced the way surgery was performed and is performed today.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Weekly Report 1: Syria

The article I found was concerning President Assad’s army taking two cities near the border of Turkey back from the rebels. The rebels had held the towns of Nabul and Zahraa since 2012 and the loss of these two cities is blow as it takes away a supply route for the rebels from Turkey. Turkey has been supporting the rebels and this victory was one that the Syrian Government had been working toward for three years; now their goal is to reach Turkey’s border in an attempt to cut off all aid that Turkey might provide the rebel forces. Government forces broke the rebels’ siege on the two towns after three days of intense fighting and resistance. Russia has been aiding the Syrian government in their fight against the rebels since September 2015 and provided 500 air raids in this fight alone. Syrian news reported that the government’s army was met with gratitude and rejoicing for defeating the rebels and driving them away.

At the same time this was happening, the peace talks, held in Geneva Switzerland, were paused until February 25. The US Secretary of State –John Kerry- said that the halt in the peace talks along with this fight show that the intent is to look for a military solution and not a political or diplomatic one and blamed the Syrian government as well as Russia for helping them as the cause of the pause in the talks. The Russian foreign minister,- Sergei Lavrov- announced Russia’s intention to continue to provide help to the Syrian government in the form of air strikes to defeat the rebels that he referred to as terrorists.

The Syrian war has been going on for five years and has killed more than a quarter of a million Syrians and has caused millions more to be displaced or to leave the country as refugees. After this victory for the government, there is likely to be an increase in fighting and just continue to cause the war to escalate as each side and their allies increase the violence.

With the help of Russia and other allies such as Iranian-backed militias and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, the war has gone in favor of the Assad regime and taking back these two cities may be the start or the government being able to take back massive amounts of territory.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reflection 1: Why I Took This Class

My experience with the Arab world has been largely limited to what I have seen on the news or read about in articles online, so I know I am unaware of all the different facets of Arab culture. From what I have read and seen however, the culture is very rich and unique and it something that I would definitely want to learn more about. I took this class to be able to learn more about and to be better able to understand a culture that I have little experience with and get a different perspective on it than a lot of the United States is taking toward the Arab world right now.

I was 5 when the 9/11 attacks happened so I did not really have any preconceptions about the Arab world or Muslims before then and even for a few years after, I did not really have any generalizations about Muslims or the Arab world in regard to 9/11. When I was older and formed more of an opinion about it, my general impression was that Al-Qaeda was the organization responsible and so they were the ones to blame and not all Muslims. Now as I have become more aware about current events around the world, I still agree believe that I was correct about only blaming those responsible and not everyone in the Arab world and I am also more aware about the persecution that many Muslims and Arabs face in the United States and other western countries.