Tutor profile: Hannan A.
Write a reflection on how an aspect of your identity—gender, race, nationality, religion, etc.—played a role in how you experienced travel.
“Jawaazy! Jawaazy!” Startled, I take too long to remember the translation—passport. I scramble to grab my ID for the airport employee shouting the vague directions, becoming increasingly nervous when I realize the group of women in front of me are balancing a number of documents in their hands. The employee stops at their group, scans the papers, and directs them to another line. I hear a man in the adjacent queue being told he does not have the right documents to enter the country. As the employee approaches me, my anxiety peaks; do I have the right papers? Was I supposed to prove I’m a student? This is my first time traveling internationally alone, and I fear my study abroad experience will end before I even enter the country. “Jawaazy! Jawaazy—Shuu jawaazik?” The airport staff member pauses in front of me expectantly after asking for my passport in Arabic. He expects me to understand his words, and I do after a moment’s hesitation. He glances at the little blue book in my hands-- before I can even present the picture page he nodded me ahead to proceed and purchase a visa. To him, the color was what was important. --- The oldest inhabitants of Jordan, before immigration to the area began less than two hundred years ago, are the Bedouin tribes, a number of whom remain living in the way of their ancestors in tents, outside of the main cities. Their skin is often darker than mine. They are the people who welcomed millions of foreigners in the last century. Their hospitality is unmatched. My professor, who refers to himself as our “Bedouin Father,” expresses that the only Jordanian food is mansaf, a rice and meat dish cooked in a type of yogurt. Everything else—from kinafa to maqloobe—is from the immigrants. “Alhamdulillah,” my professor thanks God, “for the beauty they brought to this country.” --- Nearly half, if not more, of Jordanian citizens are originally from Palestine, their parents or grandparents having sought refuge in the country which borders their home. Four-out-of-five taxi drivers, if asked where they are from, will answer “Falasteen.” Palestine. They will tell you exactly which city or village is their family’s origin, their asl. I have learned to stop asking if they have ever visited their home. The answer is always, no. --- “It is easier to get a visa to America than a visa to Israel,” my host brother is explaining to my surprised roommate the difficulty—or rather impossibility—for people of Palestinian origin to return and visit. The conversation arose after I mentioned my upcoming trip to Jerusalem, which in turn brought up my host mother’s family roots in neighboring Palestine. My roommate is still shocked as our host mom adds, “ashaan, you are American so it’s easy for you.” The family has hosted foreign students for more than fifteen years, has heard of tens of Americans describe their journey to the most popular destination for those who study abroad in Amman. But they may never step foot in Jerusalem themselves. A few minutes later, the conversation turns into one about gun-violence in America. “Yeah so it’s a problem,” I explain, “but not one that people think about every day. I mean, they make us do drills and workshops in case there is an active shooter, which are kind of intimidating, but other than that…” Intrigued, my host brother comments, “At work, we only have fire and earthquake drills.” I am about to mention how they must be similar to the ones in the States until he adds, “But when I was a child in the 90s, during the Iraq-Israeli war [Gulf War], at school we would have drills to practice covering our mouths with wet cloths.” Before I ask more, mildly confused, his sister says “Kiymiya.” I pause, knowing we had used that word in class that day. It comes to me—chemical weapons. I nearly choke and do not mention active-shooter drills again. --- The night before I leave to Al-Quds, Jerusalem, the cab driver is once again Palestinian. I ask him where he’s from in Palestine, he responds “Khaleel.” He asks why I’m in Amman, and I respond “for school.” At one point, out of good questions, I ask if he likes Amman. He smiles but it’s one that’s pinched on the sides of his mouth. “Of course, I love Amman. But I love Falasteen more.” I decide to break my rule and ask if he has ever visited Palestine, even though I knew the answer would still be the same. When he says no, even though it is what I anticipated, my heart hurts knowing in less than 24 hours I would be a tourist in the homeland he can only visit in his dreams. I am almost ashamed; I don’t deserve this privilege. I do not mention my upcoming trip and stay silent the remainder of the ride. --- “Passport! Passport!” This time I do not bother opening it, only showing the outside of my little blue book.
Subject: International Studies
Describe the German reaction to migration, specifically of Muslim populations, historically until the present.
The largest religious minority in Germany today, Muslims are believed to have arrived in what is now Germany as early as the 17th and 18th century due to military clashes, and later diplomatic relations, with the Ottoman Empire. King Friedrich II of Prussia, a believer in the principle of religious freedom amidst the era of the Enlightenment, stated in 1740 that “if Turks come to Berlin, we shall build mosques for them.” This philosophy continued decades later when King Friedrich Wilhelm I established the first Bosniak Corps, an almost entirely Muslim unit in the army. The soldiers were provided a space to pray, a religious leader or Imam, and later a burial ground in Berlin was created for all Muslims in 1798. The following centuries included the increase of Ottoman-Germanic relations, and an influx of Muslims, particularly from Turkey. Due to the economic boom of the 1950s and 60s, significant labor shortages, and the construction of the Berlin Wall, Germany recruited temporary workers from Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yugoslavia. Although the terms of the agreement intended for these migrant workers to only remain for two-years, many settled down in Germany, particularly Berlin. Referred to by some as “the second Turkish capital,” Berlin is now home to the largest community of Turks outside of Turkey itself. With the elimination of the temporary-labor agreement in 1973, and series of wars and violence in Muslim-majority countries which resulted in refugees and asylum seekers landing in Germany, Muslims continued to join German society. Today, an extensive survey conducted in 2009 would suggest that approximately 3.8 to 4.3 million Muslims live in Germany pre-Syrian Civil War. This number does not include converts to Islam, as it focused on capturing Muslims with a migration background from Turkey, Southeast Europe, the Middle East, Iran, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Central Asia. With knowledge of the historical context, it is not surprising that Turks made up 63.2% of the (estimated) Muslim population, followed by 13.6% Muslims from former Yugoslavia. Although 74% of the Muslims in Germany are believed to be Sunni, there is a strong Ahmeddiya Muslim community of approximately 70,000 people, many of whom were refugees after their expulsion from Pakistan. With the knowledge of the historical presence of Muslims in Germany, and even the tolerance and inclusion extended by Prussian kings in the 18th century, the question now is what is the experience of Muslims in Germany? With the rise of Islamophobia and xenophobia, particularly in a country which is 89.7% European, it is unsurprising that German Muslims may be made to feel as “others” by their fellow German nationals. Particularly with the stress of the “migrant crisis,” islamophobia and xenophobia were exacerbated as politicians and media alike employed fear-mongering as refugees risked their lives to enter Europe. Specifically in regard to Syrians, the past seven years were witness to the horrors of the Syrian Civil War, as millions of Syrians have fled and many remain displaced within the borders of Syria. While the burden of hosting an unimaginable number of refugees has been placed on bordering countries—namely Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan—the treacherous journey to Europe peaked in 2015 and 2016. Refugees and asylum seekers, pejoratively referred to as “migrants” by European and American media, have taken boats—really best described as dinghies—to Greece to then walk for more than two weeks to arrive in Germany or other parts of Europe. As a result of the mass movement of refugees, the 700,000 Syrians have become the second-largest community of foreigners in Germany.
Identify major themes and symbols in Tawfiq al-Hakim’s play titled “Majlis al-Adl.”
In his play “Majlis al-Adl”, or “Court of Justice”, Tawfiq al-Hakim illustrates the problems humanity, but more specifically the Middle East, has faced in the attempt to attain “justice,” whatever that might mean. Although a comedy, the dark turns this play takes represent the ways in which concepts of justice and equality are perverted. Al-Hakim, through the relationship of the Judge and the Baker, portrays the cycle of injustice perpetuated by foreign interventionists and the local, indigenous actors who are complicit in the imperialist mission. The progression of events in this story is quite disturbing; al-Hakim quickly delivers us from a simple case of theft to the loss of an eye and death of a brother and fetus. And the victim of each crime committed by the Baker is more pitiful than the first-- particularly in the case of the pregnant woman and old man. The lack of empathy the Baker has for any of his victims is a clear indication that the benefits he receives from collaborating with the corrupt Judge have superseded his loyalty or respect for his society. Al-Hakim is offering a warning; while it may seem the financial benefit of betraying one’s own people outweighs the harm-- especially in a case of stealing a roasted goose-- it will never end in petty theft. Quickly, what the Judge will expect of its collaborator to conceal the original crime or otherwise will escalate. After all of the crimes he has committed, and without the trust of the people, the Baker has no choice but to continue obeying the Judge-- betraying the Judge would truly leave him without anyone, and could lead to legal retaliation. And while the Judge remains untouchable, the Baker is “of” the people. Although he is not the source of corruption and injustice in the society, the Baker is the hand of the Judge and revenge against him could be just as satisfactory in the eyes of those who have lost their property or family. The Judge, at whose behest this comedic series of tragedies is orchestrated, represents foreign influence and intervention in the Middle East. Al-Hakim illustrates this character as an ode to the many British, French, and other colonial powers which corrupted the very essence of existing Arab and Islamic society. The Judge may literally be a foreigner from the colonizing state or simply a member of elite, indigenous society. This socioeconomic class gained the most from imperialism; they cooperated with the colonizer, enriching themselves, and were educated in British or French schools further widening the gap between them and the rest of the country. In Majlis al-Adl, the Judge-- while hilariously un-empathetic to, for example, why a woman would not want to simply replace her baby with the man who caused the loss of her first one-- is clearly well versed in the law. He uses his legal knowledge to condescend the local community; and because of his superior status, they are unable to contend his legally-sound sentence without being fined for contempt. Al-Hakim pinpoints the corruption of justice in the court to the intervention of foreigners-- careless of the pains of the town in which he serves, the Judge lives unconcerned and continues to illegally take from the community.
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