Columnist in hot water for criticism of Bedouins

January 12, 2013
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A Saudi columnist has waded into controversy after posting remarks about Bedouin culture that were deemed offensive to a large segment of the local society.

“Nomadism as a term is a culture based on invasions, usurping property and begging from stronger parties,” Saleh Al Tariqi posted on his Twitter account. “This culture despises work and sees manual work as beneath it. Bedouins argue about who is more deep-rooted in history when they all share the same father: Adam.”

Al Tariqi said that Bedouins liked to fight amongst themselves and to go to palaces to beg from rulers.

“The Bedouin culture has not been uprooted in modern times, but changed to adapt to the new world,” he said. “While in the past it thrived on tribes usurping one another, today it thrives on robbing jobs from people by using ‘wasta’ [influential social connections]. Wasta today is a modern way of life borne out of an old negative concept that did not rule out usurping property.”

His remarks in the conservative society sparked heated debates on the merit of the culture and Al Tariqi’s right to attack the Bedouin culture in the Saudi blogosphere.

“You have regretfully insulted great men venerated throughout history,” Ibn Hammam, a blogger, posted on Sabq, a local news website. “Our grandfathers were unique men in their own right.”

Another blogger, Abu Mitab, lashed out at Al Tariqi and posted that “Bedouins were the forefathers of all Arabs and that they are the most proud people. Their history testifies to their greatness.”

In his comments, Abu Bader, a blogger, refused to associate raids with only Bedouins. “Even people who lived in citadels and cities in the past used to invade other people,” he wrote. “Today, Westerners continue to invade other countries to usurp their wealth. According to Al Tariqi’s logic, the British, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Italian colonialists were also Bedouins.”

Mansour Al Hajri challenged Al Tariqi to name a tribe that rang his door bell to ask for assistance.

“You accuse tribes of begging and this is unfair,” he posted. “Do tell us the name of the tribe that came to your door.”

However, the Saudi columnist was given support by several bloggers who praised his “courage” and “perspicuity”.

“You are absolutely right,” Hajis Ali posted. “We have to forget the concept of nomads and Bedouins and move forward, especially at a time when people have advanced so much that they reached the moon.”

Tootah said that Al Tariqi was realistic in his remarks. “We unfortunately have some people who look down on manual jobs while at the same time do not hesitate to beg or to ask for assistance,” he posted. “I do agree that wasta has deprived many people of their rights and undermined the concept of equal opportunities. We are a highly sensitive society, but we have to appreciate that several prophets and messengers had been engaged in manual work.”

Jufairi also praised Al Tariqi, arguing that Islam did not condone fanaticism or narrow views, both of which are favoured by Bedouins.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/columnist-in-hot-water-for-criticism-of-bedouins-1.1130442

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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