Thursday, October 07, 2010

Marius Kociejowski: The One Question Interview

Over at Alex Boyd's blog, he has conducted one of his regular one question interviews with Marius Kociejowski about his just released The Pigeon Wars of Damascus. He asks:

Your book The Pigeon Wars of Damascus concerns a trip to Syria, and suggests travel writing shouldn’t be about going to a place, but should be writing that comes out of it. Is there something North Americans understand the least about the Middle East?

And Marius answers (in part):

One should not generalise, of course, because there are numerous Arabists in North America who have a keen understanding of the Middle East. I wish I had a fraction of their knowledge. If only the powers that be would consult them a bit more, then we might have been spared the consequences of their many mistakes. What I find alarming on my trips back to Canada is the tenor of many of the newspaper articles which in their interpretation of the Middle East and of Islam in particular are simplistic and crude in the extreme. Only recently the Ottawa Citizen ran a piece in which it was suggested that the pastor who wanted to burn the Qur’an and the imam who wants to build an Islamic centre, which actually is at some distance from the site of the Twin Towers, are of the same ilk. One wishes these columnists would read a bit more or even visit the countries which they discuss with such apparent ease before committing their erroneous and potentially damaging views to the page. What they have done, of course, is feed the fears of the populace. On September 11th 2001 the terrorists not only hijacked planes but also the religious faith that has been such a source of strength for the Arabic people. The hell they inflicted upon others will be nothing as compared to the hell which, according to their own faith, they will have to endure.

For the rest please visit Alex's blog.

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