When, I first came to London I was astonished and surprised by the enormous Muslim population. It is a delicate subject for Americans because so many Iraqi's and Muslims hate Americans. Well, many people all over the world hate Americans,thanks to Bush. And, I am so relieved we have Obama in office.But, living in a Bayswater(5 Minutes to Notting Hill),a big Arabic community, I want to be the first to bridge the gap of peace. Where I frequent, the internet cafes,hoteliers, restaurants, cleaners,store owners all are owned by Iraqis. I have never been in contact with so many Iraqis and Arabs in my life.I just smile and tell them I am American, and little by little, they know who I am, and I have become friends with many of them. They are very kind and warm hearted people, and they always are very nice to me. Once in a while,the Iraqi owner of the Internet Cafe I frequent says some subtle snide comment about Americans, just enough to sting slightly.I take it with a grain of salt and just think whatever. Bush made a mess out of Iraq and maybe he doesn't like Americans because of that.I am not sure. But, I can't blame him. But,what I am sure of is that I want to debunk any kind of ideas people have about Americans.That we are all arrogant, ignorant, pushy,loud,and stupid.So, everywhere I go I try to act as an Ambassador and try to be on my best behavior.Well, I am not a saint, but I do try to remember how I behave is a Cause and it will have it's effects.
I have been fascinated by Arabic culture for a long time. I think it started with my Belly Dance Classes that I took at Berkely and the beautiful exotic Arabic music my Teacher Nana used to bring to class. I want to know much about the Arabic culture as possible.I am learning a bit of Arabic everywhere I go. After all, Spanish is about 60% Arabic. All the words beginning with al in Spanish are Arabic derived. After all,The Moors were in Spain for 700 years and with them left their legacy of culture,architecture and language. If your Spanish, chances are you probably have Arabic blood and likely to be Jewish as well, since many Jews stayed during the Inquisition.
I often find the women dressed in full hijab amazing, how do that do it. It's written in the Koran, that women are supposed to cover their head, because they don't want to tempt men. I don't understand how women do it, in full hijab, in the hottest of summers in Saudi Arabia. Speaking of Saudi Arabia, I was befriended a woman from Saudi. She was the most interesting and intelligent woman I met. She was a French translater in Saudi Arabia and originally of Lebanese descent. She told me,"Sabrina, go to Lebanon, go to Palestine, go to Egypt, go to Hell, but dont' go to Saudi Arabia." Apparently,she told me that the women are still treated very badly.It doesn't come to much surprise to me.I have always heard that,but hearing it firsthand from the horses mouth had more resonance to me. According to her,if you want to get a divorce from your husband Saudi Laws make it very difficult. She said,"Your husband could be a firstrate abusive jerk, and STILL may have a very hard time divorcing him.
Will the Laws in the 21 century in Islam ever favor women?
Are Islamic Women content with these laws? Some, I spoke to said they were.
Some said they get better treatment and more respect in Saudi Arabia than they would in London. I spoke to a few Islamic women and they ALL concurred that the Koran considers women very precious, which is why they need to cover themselves with the full hijab.In Saudi Arabia, they are not allowed to drive. The men have to drive them everywhere. I heard from one man that in Saudi Arabia the population of women is much higher than of the men, and that if the women were given power that eventually they would end up taking over the country.Anyway, I am not an authority, and I am just going by hearsay. I would not be able to tell you my real thoughts on Saudi culture,until I visited Saudi Arabia myself and learnt about the culture firsthand.
A Market on Edware Road
A Family Man shopping for food on Edware Road
For some reason, I am not supposed to be taking any photos of Muslim women. So, all of these had to be taken very quickly. If your Muslim, and reading this, please don't be offended, this blog is meant to act as a breach of peace and to build understanding between cultures. And, hopefully trust and friendship.
This is my Gorgeous Goddess Dance Teacher Nana Candelaria
More Tales and Adventures in Sabrina's London Diaries