It seems like a long time ago that I once wondered if HM Queen Rania was a blogger. It seems lately, she’s gone a step forward and become a Vlogger on YouTube.
Now this is pretty interesting…
I think it’s a pretty good initiative (me wishing I had thought of it first), and it’s one of those Web 2.0 projects that I don’t think has ever been done on this scale and in this context. In any case, the comments will be even more interesting to read, be they positive, negative or insulting. Thus is the free and wacky world we call the Internet. However, it will also be interesting how the responses take shape. Remember, this is about Arab stereotypes, and Arabs differ in culture, politics, economics and even religious standards; having the Queen of Jordan address these questions with a broad brush may be tricky. Another tricky territory will be maneuvering through the religious questions being posed, a territory I firmly believe the Queen should not be entering due to past misunderstandings.
I wonder however if this will be a one-time thing or if it we’ll be seeing more of the Queen’s video blogging on YouTube. I also wonder if HM King Abdullah will also follow in these footsteps, even though I think that particularly would be a pretty bad idea for all the obvious reasons.
In any case, I’m going to be following the comments myself. But here’s a selection of comments from the past 24 hours since its launch. Many of them are Dutch by the way:
“Your Highness, What is there that should be debated? Basic human rights such as the Freedom of Speech are not open to debate for an average Westerner. Either you accept these rights or you don’t. What is it that the debate should be about?” – Arnhem1972
“Dear Queen Rania, why can’t we be honest with one another; Islam means submission and that exeactly is what it is persuing. let’s be frank and open about that.” – antonovoo
“How can you ask for our respect while your country wants to ban my country? Freedom of speech is wor(d)thless in the middle east! Respesting us is respecting cartoons, Fitnas and you name it.” – malakia007
“Nice queen but please get your own people in line first before addressing us.” – smile2sandro
“i think this is an amazing idea! i’m totally bookmarking this page.” – johnathan. houston, texas
“I have a question. Is jihad part of islam or is islam part of jihad? I really have never heard the answer. Also, is jihad in the muslim bible?” – compassionrepublican
“Jack Bauer’s in the background!” – 0penuriis
“she reminds me of celine dion.” – podge2222
“Althought I might not agree with Queen Rania about all her ideas/views, but this approach is smart and creative, waiting for interaction from Youtubers and some videos in reply. I would recommend that the reply-videos would have also some images/videos from Jordan to support a certain answer/reply. Thanks Queen Rania…I’m a Jordanian living in Canada, ready & more than happy to help this cause. God Bless Jordan… and may God bring freedom, equality, peace & prosperity to the whole World.” – OBELBasha
This is definitely very interesting… when I first checked yesterday morning there were no comments yet, so it’s pretty cool to see this kind of interaction. I’m going to be very curious to see how the questions are answered though…
“turfinted | March 31, 2008
The real question is when will Islam finally accept and embrace their Jewish brothers and sisters? These two people’s histories have been intertwined for thousands of years not to mention their religions share all the basic values.
All this killing and hate started with Muhammad who insisted that the Jewish tribes that rejected him convert to Islam or die.
Islam needs to stop this hate, stop trying to kill Jews and instead embrace their Jewish brothers. When this happens all this craziness will stop Mid East will be great again.”
“godverdomme2222 | March 31, 2008
April fools joke !!!!
This queen is married to a head of state , who doesn’t know democracy,.
The Jordan government has my country (Holland) urgently asked to stop the broadcast of Fitna (geert wilders movie), even without any knowledge of our democratic state, in wich freedom and freedom of speech are among our greatest goods..
We might wanna start first to teach the queen on how a democratic nation works, and after that the rest of the arabic leaders, who are so fast in trowing there judgement on Holland ..
If by that time , they all know and “understand” democracy we could go into dialog..
But i wont see that happen in the near future…
Or the Queen must accompany me , and ill show her why we in Holland dislike islam and moslims, we can start in Den Haag or Rotterdam where 80% of those figures are criminals..
regards, and have a nice april fools..”
An opened Pandora box
Good move, a better one would be talking to our own people, addresing our own issues, cleaning house as they say it.
Why not talking to Jordanians about honor killing, Gulfans about mistreatment of Asian Expats…
I think it wold be more fruitful if first talked to us Arabs about our own mishaps.
Inflation, education, racism, radicalism, women…..
Once we acheive some sort of progress inhouse, it is time to look out and ask outsiders WHATSUP!
But that’s just my 2Cents.
This really is a great initiative! her effort in trying to deconstruct the myths and stereotypes attached to Arabs and Muslims is highly appreciated. however, I am very interested in two issues, the first of which is to see how she will get about answering questions that cover the whole range of misconceptions, starting with religious and social issues to governments and democracy. secondly, I wonder if she will only stop at dismantling stereotypes, or will she also point out that some issues proposed are true problems the Arab world and Islamic regions suffer from, such as, Islamic fanaticism, sexism and honor killings, and Arab governments’ lack of democracy, which need reform and improvement from within.
Despite the fact that almost the same stereotypes are going to be brought up over and over, i’m sure she will get asked about a whole variety of issues that will be quite challenging. I hope she handles it all well.
I agree with Khaled that we need some major work here at home with cultural ignorance before we go trying to put right the Arab stereotype in the world spectrum. I mean, the news articles about honor killings, maid abuses, etc. will not stop while she is out there trying to put a pretty face on the nation. Why not get into the schools and start educating the young about the rights of women and respect for your neighbor first. Help the next generation stop the madness.
I am also worried about how she will answer some religious questions, since she has done a poor job in the past representing correct Islam.
I love the idea of this initiative. The queen is picking her battles, and I guess she has determined that the global attitude towards Islam and Arabs is the most important issue at the moment. And yet I agree with Khaled. It doesn’t matter what we try to get the world to think when local actions and attitude proclaim the opposite. All it takes is a few honor killings, a lack in education or a loud-mouthed, fundamentalist sheik to overpower Queen Rania’s dialog of peace and understanding.
Maha: “An opened Pandora box”….yeah that’s always a concern (almost every time i write a post) 😀
Khaled and Um Omar: you make a very valid point however, to be fair, she does that do that already. the difference here is that this is more publicized for all the obvious reasons (youtube, global, etc). and as for religion, like i said in my post, it’s tricky territory, however i don’t think she’s done a poor job before, i think she’s been incredibly (and sometimes deliberately) misunderstood. in any case, i don’t believe, by rule of thumb, that any official should speak in the name of islam if they are not an authority on the subject. it also saves a lot of hassle for themselves.
nasim: good job bro 😉
As Edward Sa’id mentioned in his critique of the book “Clash of Civilizations” by Huntington, there is no such thing as clash of civilizations, its simply a conflict of interests, its the misalignment of the stars, really, that is causing this rift. Two people want the same thing, they are going to clash over it wether its a piece of land or world domination. Getting into this “our religion vs your religion” debate only serves the people who created this farce in the first place…..the bottom line here is that we must snap out of this self pitty and wallowing and offensiveness that we pigeonhole ourselves into today….its about time we wake up and get real, build, create, fight and grab our rights right back where they belong. Its ironic how, after 1400 years, the Arabs and Muslims have become the new Jews of the world, the bad seeds , the Western Church needs an enemy to stay viable and now that the Jews are off the hook, its us who will serve that purpose. I like the words a good frind of mine uses to describe religions: “its all the same, we are the ones f@#%ing with it”.
Dave, there is nothing that anyone in the Arab or Muslim world can do to change the attitude towards Islam and the Arabs, except the west itself, it can change its attitude towards the people the west has colonized, occupied , pillaged and burned till this very day, for starters they can leave them the hell alone, maybe then attitudes can change.
It’s very interesting in deed, I mean to think that you can reach the queen, pose question and express opinions that easy… bless the digital age
Markus: I agree with you to an extent, but your perspective is very birds-eye-view. The closer we get to the ground we see that the micro issues take hold; the details of the conflict. It’s like describing the Arab-Israeli conflict in one sentence (which is possible), but once you dive in, it will need a lot more sentences. I mention this because to unravel ourselves from such conflicts (that produce these stereotypes) it will involve a lot of delving into the details.
Ola: it does have its advantages 😀
I think se read Arab Voices Speak to American Hearts!
Sam: lol looks like it! 🙂
Nas allow me to disagree with you here, I have immense respect for your views , but I strongly believe that complicating the conflict is precisely the problem, the Arab cause is just, at its core, the detours, the mistakes and the treason are what got it so complex, I truly believe that the only word that matters to us is “freedom” i believe in the birds-eye view all the way when it comes to Justice….justice is blind my friend…and it should stay that way…
Markus: I agree with you to an extent here, but don’t you feel that what you’re saying is highly theoretical? in other words, i agree that there are issues which from a birds eye view are black and white, justice being one of them, however in achieving that justice we enter a sea of gray. who created it and how it was created doesn’t matter right now. I’m talking about untangeling ourselves, all of us – Arabs, Muslims, liberals, conservatives, citizens, refugees, what have you – from the chaos, and that takes a lot of macro and micro effort.
For some reason i’m using those two words a lot these days lol
I found some clips on youtube of interviews with her on American television and I must say: she does a wonderful job at representing Jordan in the west. According to Wikipedia, she got all her education at English language schools and universities. So it shouldn’t surprise us that her English is perfect. But this made me wonder: how is her Arabic? In Belgium, we’ve got plenty of experience with kings and queens who don’t speak the language of their people. Is this an issue in Jordan too? Or does queen Rania speak as fluently and relaxed Arabic as she speaks English?
she ie good there too, formal language and common accent too.
Markus, you can’t blame the West for the problems I mentioned: honor killings, education, or fundamentalism. These are internal problems that are reflecting poorly on the Arab world. Thus, such problems need to be solved internally before external perceptions are to be changed.
You claim that there is nothing that Arabs can do to change the West’s perception of Islam and Arabs. I disagree. To hold to such an attitude is to throw up one’s hands and say, “Well, there’s nothing I can do about it so why fix anything?”
It’s a great intiavtive, and dialouge is the key. My sister has wrote a book called”Arab Voices Speak to American Hearts” and there is also a group under the same name on Facebook, a chance for Arabs to reach Americans
here are some links
Ali: thanks for the mention. Your sister wrote a very important book for our times and I hope that she revisits the issue or expands on it in the near future.
I was fortunate enough to read and review it a few years ago:
I ask you respectfully, if i set your house on fire and then asked you to please please respect me and my intentions, I m a good guy, forget that im burning your house down, how will you react man? I hate to get into such simplistic discussions but seriously I am at a loss with the line i hear from westerners who refuse to see the evils that their nations have unleashed on the people of the “third world”. Dude fundamentalism, sux, honor killings suck, all that stuff sux royally, but what does that have to do with world domination, occupation, and ethnic cleansing? The west does not have a good reputation in the Middle East, and its not because someones sister slept around with the local grocer…just like you ask Arabs to look themselves in the mirror, I think as an American , representing a democracy( since you are defending the west) you need to look at your own shortcomings , the ebbs and flows of history are unforgiving Dave and one day you might end upon the opposite side of the fence….is that the only way for you to understand my point of view?
Everything can be boxed into Macro and Micro effects..LOL
But seriously Its not that I don’t believe there is a lot of gray around us, it would be ignorant to claim that, all I’m saying here is that we need to have a strong belief in our core issue….I remember attending an event where Azmi Bshara made a speech soon after Sep-11. In the middle of the fear and paranoia that gripped America back then (and still today to an extent) he said something that I believe is extremely important, he said that the Palestinian (and Arab)cause is just at its core, you should not fear when you speak about it and defend it, you should not flex or bend to accommodate the artificial realities being created around you. It is similar to the discussion we hear, if we are afraid then the terrorists have won, it is so true, except the definition of terrorists for us is the exact opposite here.
I saw the video to day just hours before reading ur blog. i think its a very good initiative.. but its gonna open a huge can of worms
i left a comment on the video asking the queen/the reader to search you tube for “reel bad arabs”
we have to start some where.