Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The paradox of the Arab culture in Europe

By Sebastián Jiménez Melo

Currently, a large group of people in Europe are afraid of Arab culture, especially in the field of religion, because they have an image of an Arabic person as someone who is violent, evil or even a terrorist. That image is the product of national and international press that only shows the acts of a small group of people who commit illegal acts, but the result is the generalization of all the people.

Consequently, the number of people who see the Arab culture as something bad is growing, and therefore they ask for the separation of their culture and the exclusion of Arab influence. At this point is where the paradox arises: Those people think that the influence of Arab culture in their countries is something recent, but the truth is that it isn’t. Europe has a long history in relation with the Arab world, a history of cultures interacting. And the product of that relation is not only the bad things that the news these days is showing as the opposition of Arab Vs European culture; the product is a process  of interculturality where both cultures are taking and adopting things from the other.

In fact, we can see a lot of examples in different countries in Europe, where Arabic families have lived there for a long time and have adopted some of the values and rituals of those countries, without forgetting and excluding the things that have characterized their own culture. The same thing happens with some of the native Europeans; they have adopted values and ideas of the Arab culture.  The products of this kind of interaction include the adoption of things like food, parties, rituals, ideas and/or the creating of new things that mix the characteristics and features of both cultures. On the other hand, a better and more important example is the product of the creation of new personal relations. Now, it is much easier to find a European who has friends or even family from the Arab culture, so their daily lives are a process of interculturality. Thereby we can see that the original relation is more one of respect and curiosity towards the other, instead of the opposition between both cultures that is the main topic in the area in the news these days.

Its is here then, where we can see that the real problem is the generalization of some acts, and therefore the creation of a unique image as evil, where all those who are part of the Arab culture are seen as terrorists and with a bad influence for the European culture. The result of the prevalence of that image is what we see these days: the destruction of the ties that had been created for a long time.

A destruction which is based not on something completely true, but on the product of a constant kind of image created by the news. This is where it is necessary to call the public attention towards what is the origin of the relation between European and Arab culture; it is important to show how this relation has been constructed and which have been the products, and recall that the majority of them have been more of interaction and adoption rather than just the opposition and the will to destroy the other. We cannot allow the generalization of an image that is not applicable for all to destroy the ties between the Europe and Arab worlds.

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