Non-Arabic speaking peoples have a tendency to lump “Arabs” together, as though racial and economic hierarchies don’t impact us as they do the rest of the world. The fact is, orientalism is common even in SWANA (South West Asia and North Africa) and it tends to be rooted in the same imperial racial and cultural classifications that the U.S., Canada and European nations invented and implemented all over the world. Divide and conquer. You get the picture.

Case in point: the most absurd news story I’ve seen this month. According to Nadim Kawach, reporting on behalf of Emirates 24/7, Saudi women are now “joining hands in another common cause—this time against the recruitment of housemaids from Morocco.” Why? A Saudi daily paper states:

Some of them said Moroccan women are so attractive that their husbands could easily fall for them … others said Moroccans are good at magic and sorcery and that this could enable them to lure their husbands.

Magic and sorcery. Right.

To its credit, Kawach’s piece does address some of the real problems migrant laborers, especially women, deal with in Saudi Arabia (not to mention the rest of the Middle East). But I would still like to nominate this for the 2011 SWANA Story Most Unrelated To The Arab Spring (And Reality) awards.

Further Reading

No more caricatures

Engaging seriously with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life could help us understand how South Africa got where it is and where it’s going.