All posts by bunnicornz

Islam and Music: From Prohibition to Science of Ecstasy

Zoomed in Map of Egypt
Zoomed in Map of Egypt

Egypt, one of the oldest living civilizations in the world, has amassed a great amount of rich history and culture throughout the centuries. Egypt has very unique geographical characteristics. Located in the northeast corner of Africa by the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt is around half the size of texas and dry throughout the entire country. The northward flowing Nile River contributes greatly to Egypt’s economy and standard of living, most of Egypt’s population lives along the Nile River. Placed between the two continents, Africa and the Middle East, Egypt has adopted extremely unique cultures and traditions from both sides. Some surrounding countries are Libya on the West, Sudan to the South, and Eritrea on the southeast of Egypt. Countries on the other side of the Red Sea that has had

Music is one of the most common form of communication between humans, and it has been for countless of centuries. In fact, using music as a way to communicate is probably older than using words that are written down as a way of communication. Music can contribute and tell us a lot about a certain place’s geography, be it physical geography or human geography. It has the power of doing so because music is composed and performed by humans, humans who live in that region, humans who knows the place the best. Through music, people can express their feelings towards a certain subject or situation, which can then help others learn more about each other or other places they are not familiar with. In Afropop Worldwide Hip Deep, lots of information about a country’s geography can be picked up through listening to their various radio podcasts. Egypt- Islam and Music: From Prohibition to the Science of Ecstasy tells us of the history of Islam, the importance of it to the citizens of not only Egypt, but every country with it as the predominant religion, and also how it has influenced their music. Afropop chooses songs with significant meanings that can each help us pick up different geographic informations such as the culture, the history, society, etc.

Egyptians performing traditional music
Egyptians performing traditional music

Much of the Egyptian music is heavily influenced by the predominant religion in Egypt; Islam. In the very beginning, Georges Collinet, the radio host, asks, “How is it, that the religion that has inspired some of the world’s most beautiful and exciting music is so often preoccupied with curtailing, and even forbidden music?” The religion that Collinet so enthusiastically refers to is the dominant religion in most of the Middle Eastern countries and many of the countries in Africa, Islam. He then goes on and tells us of the cultural controversy in the Islamic society. Under the Taliban, and in places like Saudi Arabia, Sudan, etcetera, all sorts of music have been banned (Collinet). One example is Haroon Bacha, a young Pashto singer driven into exile in New York after death threats from Taliban officials in Pakistan. The reason for the death threats? Because his songs were calling for peace and tolerance, which weren’t what the Taliban wanted their people to hear. Many cities also ban the use of certain instruments because according to Joseph Braude, author, Middle East specialist, and a musician himself, “the philosopher thinks about music in terms of healthfulness in some musical scales and the danger of others. He identified specific musical modes that are likely to insight a person to become violent or sexually deviant. Others, by contrast, that will make a person more peaceful and more balanced. The philosopher goes as far as to recommend that certain scales be banned and never to be heard” (Braude). The radio podcast tells us how even though the religion Islam is one of the most influential factors in Egyptian music today, many instruments that make Islamic music unique are banned within the Islam society due to the thought of it being ‘bad’ or capable of leading humans to sneakiness. Other than this, when we think of Islam, one of the most important things is it’s rich history. “Islam is a venture that started in the Arabian Peninsula and spread over centuries time to become one of the largest landed empires in the history of the world” (Braude). Then Collinet went on and played music and gave detailed lectures of the history of Islam and how it was strongly affected by the Byzantines Empires in the West and the Persian Sassanid Empire in the East. They also talk about how these Muslims believe in two major ancient Greek philosophies, Pythagoras and Aristotelian, and how these two philosophies have had major influences on their lives.

Islam expansion route
Islam expansion route

Egyptian music has many unique qualities and characteristics. Egyptian music, centered around Cairo, began to thrive around the 1910s, when Egyptians started encouraging their women and minorities to invest in their musical talents (Hermann). Some of the instruments Egyptians use are string instruments including the harp and the lupe,the piano of Arabic composition (Collinet). Percussion instruments like Sekhmet and Bes are also used commonly in Egyptian music, making them unique and delightful to the ears (Hermann). There are many other qualities found in Egyptian music, including the use of harmony by the singers. The sound of the voices harmonizing creates a very unique and pleasant sound that can be distinguished easily amongst a group of different music. Singers also clap their hands alongside the harmonizing.

Egyptian instruments
Egyptian instruments

Georges Collinet chose these songs to reflect the geography of Egypt because these music teaches us the importance of religion in their society and how their religion has made an effect on the society and who they are today. This is significant because religion plays a crucial role in the modern Egyptian society and has had an effect on many things, including the beautiful Egyptian music we hear today. All in all, music is critical to understanding different things, it may help you discover and understand things you’ve never known or thought of before, including the geography of a place.

 

Works Cited

 

“Afropop Worldwide.” Afropop Worldwide. Afropop. Web. 8 June 2015.

<http://www.afropop.org/about/>

 

Collinet, Georges. Afropop. 1 Jan. 2010. Radio.

 

“Geography.” Infoplease. Infoplease. Web. 5 June 2015.

<http://www.infoplease.com/country/egypt.html>

 

Hermann, Junker. “Egyptian Music Qualities – Google ·j´M.” Egyptian Music Qualities. 1

Oct. 2009. Web. 18 June 2015. <http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/timelines/top

ics/music.htm>

 

Web. 18 June 2015. <http://www.worldatlas.com/img/areamap/89f0f82221547bf89b3ea06

a13344f60.gif>

 

Web. 20 June 2015. <http://wprasek.com/photos/_portfolio_colour/music-performance/img/

080112-2100411a_wprasek.jpg>

 

Web. 21 June 2015. <https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e4/da/4c/e4da4

c19fe3d87de19697457bb6cfffa.jpg>

 

Web. 21 June 2015. <http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/egyptian-music-instrument

s-14972800.jpg>

 

Advertisements

A Long Journey to Eradicating Terrorism

A commercial ad promoting people to fight terrorism
A commercial ad promoting people to fight terrorism

Terrorism has been around for centuries and is now currently a growing issue all over the globe. While it is hard to come up with a precise definition for what exactly terrorism is, several scholars and organizations have come up with close definitions. Terrorism is the “calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological”, as defined by the United States Department of Defense (Terrorism Research 1). Terrorism could also be defined as “an axiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-)clandestine individual, group, or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal, or political reasons, whereby- in contrast to assassination- the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators,” as defined by Alex Schmid, a Dutch scholar on terrorism studies (Sageman 3).  From these two definitions it is clear that there are differences in the definitions defined by different scholars and different organizations. However, it is agreed amongst all that terrorists use violence in ways that dehumanizes and or traumatizes victims beyond the directed target. This paper will be be analyzing terrorism and introducing new ways everyone can help to end this problem.

Depending on how one defines terrorism, it can be dated back to as early as the 1st century. Most people would agree that terrorism is “as old as humans’ willingness to use violence in order to get power or to change politics in their favor” (Hayes, Brunner and Rowen). Sicarii is a word meaning “dagger-men” in modern Hebrew, they were a 1st century terrorist group who carried out assassinations and massacres using short daggers (Zalman). These terrorists Jewish Zealots led by the descendents of Judas of Galilee Northern Israel. Judas, known as one of Christ’s disciples, believed that the Jews should be ruled by no one but God alone. With this belief held in mind, the Jewish terrorists, Sicarii, led a revolution against Roman rulers when they tried carrying out a census in the 6th CE so the Roman rulers in Syria could tax their Jewish subjects. This was only the beginning of Sicarii, they began violent resistance to Roman rule around 40 years later, in 50 CE, which was when they really started using guerrillas and terrorist tactics. Today problems involving terrorism greatly affects Israel and other countries such as Egypt.

Though there had been many attempts in solving the issue of terrorism, there are still many existing and emerging. Some of the more well known terrorist groups include Al-Qaeda, Boka Haram, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF, etcetera. Al-Qaeda is today one of the most infamous terrorist groups, surpassing Hamas and Hezbollah, it is known mostly for its suicide attack on the twin towers on September 11th, 2001 (Hayes, Brunner and Rowen). Boko Haram is another terrorist group that rose to the public’s attention a few years ago. Located in Northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram is known for the Chibok Schoolgirls Kidnapping that happened just last year, 2014, around April 14th-15th (NCNT). According to the women who were just rescued around a month ago in May 2nd, Boko Haram members brutally slaughtered the older males in front of their family members before taking the females into a forest where most died of either starvation or diseases (NBC News). Many people have a misconception that modern day terrorists are centralized in places such as Africa and the Middle East, like the examples provided above, but little do they know that terrorism is occurring all over the world. Abu- Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) are both terrorist groups centered in the Philippines. ASG is known to be the most violent terrorist that is currently operating in the Southern Philippines. They want to create an Islamic State in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago (NCNT). BIFF is also centered in the South of the Philippines. It is believed that they only have a few hundred soldiers, making it less of a threat when compared to other terrorist groups like ASG (Global Security).

One reason why terrorism is such a big threat today is because many people from all over the world are joining to become one of them, especially European Muslims. Immigrants or their descendents from all over Europe– Madrid, Milan, Marseilles, and Berlin– are starting to volunteer for jihad against the West (Leiken). There are many reasons behind these European Muslims joining for jihad; for some it is because they feel mistreated and feel like they do not have equal rights as white Europeans, and for others it is because of their dissatisfaction with their current governments. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research last year,  they found hat the majority of the population in countries like Greece, Italy, and Poland gave the Muslims in their country an unfavorable rating (Hackett). Of course Islam isn’t the only religion with terrorism, many other religions such as Christianity suffers from terrorists of their own religion, too. One major Christian terrorist groups known by many people is the Ku Klux Klan, or the KKK. However, the terrorism problem Egypt faces is Islamic terrorism, therefore it will be discussed more. It is not new to us the Islamists’ conflict with democracy, most European Muslims feel uncomfortable with democratic governments that grant citizens universal rights such as freedom of speech and expression,  freedom of religion, and even gender equality (Cooper and Hasan). Recently, European governments have started becoming aware of this growing issue and are planning on passing a joint law to prevent citizens from joining terrorists. European laws vary; countries like France already have laws that charges people with crimes if the government finds out they are planning to leave the country to support jihadists. Nonetheless, there are still many countries that lack laws to prevent people from leaving to join terrorists, such as Scandinavia (Irish Examiner).

Rise of Global Terrorism
Rise of Global Terrorism

It shouldn’t surprise anyone if a study shows up saying that no one likes terrorists, however, the vast Muslim population is usually blamed for terrorism. According to “Al-Islam”, a website explaining hidden meanings in the Qu’ran,  Islam does not in any way support terrorism and prohibits Muslim men from attacking innocent people. Over the past decades, there has been many Islamic scholars who have tried to explain to us why terrorists are not considered Muslims. For example, from Charles Cooper, a London based researcher on Middle Eastern politics, jihadism and Islamist movements, “Islam does not support terrorism under any circumstances, terrorism goes against every principle of Islam. If a Muslim engages in terrorism, he is not following Islam. He may be wrongly using the name of Islam for political or financial gains.” Another quote from a US educated Saudi Arabian journalist further proving why a lot of people today’s perspectives are wrong: “Muslims throughout their history never allowed the killing of civilians, even in the midst of wars such as crusades. There is no respected Islamic scholar here in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else in the Muslim world who would support such a fatwa” (Khashoggi). Such misconceptions could be very detrimental to the self esteem of the Muslim community and should be dropped immediately.

The problem of terrorism in Egypt has been becoming more and more of a problem since the 1990s, when Islamic terrorist groups from the Middle East started attacking government officials, local policemen, the Christian minorities, and tourists visiting Egypt. Since then, many attacks have occurred including the 2004 Sinai bombing, the April 2005 Attacks in Cairo, the 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh attacks, the Dahab bombing, and so on. However, with the problem of terrorism growing bigger each year, the Egyptian government led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seems unable to fight this alone (Solomon).

The whole world has been trying to eradicate terrorism, the Western world by preventing their citizens to join and become one of the terrorists and the Middle East with the Kurdish army fighting terrorists and insurgents, but what has the world’s biggest peacekeeping organization, the United Nations, done? Eighteen instruments- fourteen instruments and four amendments- have been elaborated within the UN system; an instrument is a formal legal document published. The General Assembly has been especially active in countering terrorism, trying to come up with the perfect resolution to stop international terrorism. The Security Council has also been active, establishing subsidiary bodies and working on resolutions (UN). Countering international terrorism is one of the UN’s priorities, though there has not been a resolution passed that has successfully eradicated terrorism.

Now that we have talked discussed what the world how the world has contributed to countering international terrorism, let us discuss what individuals can do to prevent terrorism from spreading. Individuals  can help cut off funding sources to terrorist groups by not buying products from black markets. Elephants, one of the most beautiful animals out there, are facing extinction. A study shows that around 100 to 150 elephants are killed per day, and UNEP released a study saying that 17,000 elephants in monitored reserves were killed in the year of 2011, and the number became even higher in 2012. Elephants are mostly slaughtered for their ivory tusks. Where do the tusks end up? In black markets. Black markets today are able to earn millions just by slaughtering elephants and selling their tusks, and many of these black markets are used to fund terrorists, one terrorist group funded mainly by black markets is Boko Haram (Quarterman). This means that by not buying illegal goods like ivory tusks, you are cutting off their source of fundings. If they do not have money, it decreases the chance of their future attacks.

Believe it or not, companies and organizations can be very useful and can be a great help when it comes to eradicating terrorism. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are useful especially when it comes to network terrorism and social media (H.). NGOs have an advantage when dealing with network terrorism and are especially suited to fight network type terror groups. Examples of network type terror groups include Al-Qaeda and Al- Shabaab. Social media nowadays is where many things happen, it is also one of the main contributors to terrorism because it has made it easy for extremists to have access to unlimited public debates. NGOs have the power to “restructure the linguistic and political landscapes that these extremists want support from through social media” (H.). On the other hand, companies are also useful when it comes to preventing terrorism. For example, after the 9/11 attack set out by Al- Qaeda, firms immediately started producing anti-terrorist equipments and services. Some of these include machines that check suitcases and luggages for weapons and explosives, bisthmus cartridge, other anti- terrorist products.

At the end of the day, it is agreed by everyone that terrorism is definitely not something good and should be eradicated as fast as we can. It is obvious that the current strategy we are using right now is not working. For our this journey of eradication to work at its optimal efficiency, we must throw away our old strategy and adopt a new one. It is crucial for us to combine our individual power, the power of the country, and the power of firms and NGOs. There is a very well known myth amongst many Indian villages that has been passed down for generations. It tells a story of a village next to a river. One day, the villagers noticed bodies floating down the river, they take the bodies out and bury them. But no matter how many bodies they take out and bury, more bodies always flow down the river. The same thing kept occurring for days and days. One day. a villager decided to ask the village elder for help. He told the villagers to stop burying the bodies but instead go up hill to find out what’s causing these bodies to flow down the river. So they went and found the cause of these floating dead bodies and successfully solved the problem (WashingtonBlog). What does this story tell us? It tells us that the United States politicians are the villagers; they’re sending in military forces to fight against terrorism but they don’t actually understand the root cause of terrorism. Attacking terrorists may help solve the problem temporarily (or it may not),  but if we’re looking for an effective way to eradicate terrorism, looking for the underlying motivation of these jihadists in inevitable. Begin today, and the brighter future without terrorists terrorizing people will come faster.

 

Works Cited

“Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters [BIFF].” Global Security, 1 Apr.

Web. 31 May 2015. <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/par

a/biff.htm>

“Bodies in the River.” Washingtons Blog. Washington Blog, 3 Dec. 2008. Web. 31 May

  1.  <http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2008/12/bodies-in-the-river.html>

Cooper, Charles, and Usama Hasan. “Democracy is Hypocrisy!” European Muslims,

Democratic Malaise and Islamist Extremism Queries Magazine.” Queries Magazine. European Progressive Observatory, 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 31 May 2015. <http://

www.queries-feps.eu/democracy-is-hypocrisy-european-muslims-democratic-malaise-and-islamist-extremism/>

“Europe Agrees to Make Joint Laws to Stop People Joining Terrorists.”Irish Examiner, 19

May 2015. Web. 31 May 2015. <http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/wor

ld/europe-agrees-to-make-joint-laws-to-stop-people-joining-terrorists-677878.html>

“Freed Nigerian Women Tell of Boko Haram Horror.” NBC News. Web. 31 May 2015.

<http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-nigeria-schoolgirls/freed-nigerian-women-tell-boko-haram-horror-n352866>

H., Daniel. “Kenya Deregisters Over 500 NGOs: The Role of NGOs in the Fight Against

Terrorism.” The Hope Project. Hope Project, 21 Dec. 2014. Web. 31 May 2015. <http://www.hope-project.org/africa/kenya-deregisters-over-500-ngos- the-role-of-

ngos-in-the-fight-against-terrorism/>

Hackett, Conrad. “5 Facts about the Muslim Population in Europe.” Pew Research, 15 Jan.

  1. Web. 31 May 2015. <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/01/15/5-fa

cts-about-the-muslim-population-in-europe/>

Hayes, Laura, Borgna Brunner, and Beth Rowen. “Al-Qaeda Osama Bin Laden’s Network of

Terror.” Infoplease. Infoplease, 2007. Web. 31 May 2015.<http://www.infoplease.co

m/spot/al-qaeda-terrorism.html>

Leiken, Robert S. “Europe’s Angry Muslims.” Council on Foreign Relations, 1 July 2005.

Web. 31 May 2015. <http://www.cfr.org/religion/europes-angry-muslims/p8218>

Khashoggi, Jamal. “Why the US Must Find a More Just Perspective.” The Guardian. 10 Mar.

  1. Web. 31 May 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/10/af

ghanistan.terrorism18>

“National Counterterrorism Center Groups.” National Counterterrorism Center.

NCTC, 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 31 May 2015. <http://www.nctc.gov/site/groups/boko_

haram.html>

Quarterman, Mark. “Opinion: Elephant Killings Surge as Tusks Fund Terror – CNN.com.”

CNN. Cable News Network, 30 June 2013. Web. 31 May 2015. <http://edition.cnn.co

m/2013/06/19/opinion/quarterman-elephant-slaughter/>

Sageman, Marc, and Christopher Hewitt. “Chapter 1.” What Is Terrorism? Sagepub. 3. Print.

<http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/51172_ch_1.pdf>

Solomon, Ariel Ben. “Analysis: Can Egypt Tackle Its Terrorism Problem?” The Jerusalem

Post. Jpost, 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 June 2015. <http://www.jpost.com/Middle

-East/Can-Egypt-tackle-its-terrorism-problem-398265>

“Terrorism RESEARCH.”International Terrorism and Security Research. Web. 31 May

  1. <http://www.terrorism-research.com/>

“United Nations Action to Counter Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Global Counter-terrorism

Strategy, General Assembly and Counter-terrorism, Secretary-general and Counter Terrorism, SG, UN, SC, Terrorism, GA, General Assembly.” United Nations. Web. 31 May 2015. <http://www.un.org/en/terrorism/strategy-counter-terrorism.shtml>

Web. 22 June 2015. <http://www.emannabih.com/files/2013/09/Egypt-Fighting-Terrori

sm.png>

Web. 22 June 2015. <http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/12/04/article-2242803-16591734000005DC-71_634x369.jpg&gt;

Zalman, Amy. “Global Terrorism.” Terrorism About. 2015. Web. 31 May 2015.

<http://terrorism.about.com/od/groupsleader1/p/Hamas.htm>

 

Burgess Concentric Ring Model

Over the past century, many models have been made to explain urban social structures of a city. Created in 1923 by sociologist Ernest Burgess, the Burgess concentric ring model, also known as the Concentric zone model or the CCD mode, is one of the earliest theoretical model made and used to explain the structure of a city.  This model is a very simple one based on the city of San Francisco in the 1920s. Below is an image of the CCD model on Google Sketchup with the link attached to it.

Link:Burgess Concentric Ring Model Google Sketchup Pro File

Burgess Concentric Ring model on Google Sketchup
Burgess Concentric Ring model on Google Sketchup 2015

In the model above, we see five different colored rings; pink, turquoise, green, grey, and burgundy. The pink center is the central business district (CBD), it is where all the business and trade happens. The CBD is also where the malls and expensive shopping and dining halls, which are mostly accessed by the elite residents, are located. The next ring, the turquoise ring outside the CBD, are the factories and industries. This is where all the goods are manufactured and sent off to the CBD to be sold for a profit.

Central Business District; pink, and the factories; turquoise
Central Business District; pink, and the factories; turquoise

Outside the factories we have the low income residents. In the picture above, we can see that the houses in the low income residential area are all cramped together. This is because there were many many people belonging the the low income residential area, causing a lack of space. The only solution to this problem was to build tinier houses and make the area more cramp. The low income residential area also live closest to the central business center and the factories because they are not rich enough to afford cars, thus most of them either walk to get to places or they take streetcars.  Then we have the middle income residents living outside the low income residential area. The middle income residential area have houses that are more spread out and spacious.

Middle income residential
Middle income residential

Lastly, we have the elite residents/ high income residential section. As  you can see in the image at the very top, the elite residents have extremely spread out houses with many trees, parks, and other entertainments such as swimming pools in between. The elite residents live furthest away from the CBD because they were able to afford cars to travel to places. At the time this model was created, cars were a new thing, so they were extremely expensive. Only the richest of the rich could afford them, which were most of the people living in this area.

There is a link at the very top that will lead you to the Google Sketch-up Pro file of the Burgess Concentric Ring model.

Scale of Analysis

Our views on the world are often misled by stereotypes and the national image of a country. One might think the United States, one of the most powerful countries in the world, is a place where starvation and poverty does not exist. Yes, it is true that the United States is a lot better off than most of the countries around the globe. However, if we zoom in and look at specific cities such as Detroit or Brooklyn, we would find people suffering from extreme poverty worse than that of some African countries. Another example would be Germany. When it comes the religions that the people in Europe practices, the different branches of Christianity would be the first thing that comes to most people’s minds. Nonetheless, most people would be shocked to know that the majority of Berlin, Germany’s population are Muslims. The scale of analysis is where you analyze a certain factor, such as culture or economy, of a specific region. It can be measured at a global scale, regional scale, national scale, or even a local scale. The scale of analysis helps us change our perceptions of the areas we’re analyzing. Today we will be analyzing Egypt’s GDP and IMR (Infant Mortality Rate). When analyzing the data, we will be looking at the global scale, North Africa and the Middle East as the regional scale, and the local scale which will be mainly focused on the capital city of Cairo.

Global GDP (nominal) Per Capital Map
Global GDP (nominal) Per Capital Map

When it comes to Egypt, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is, of course, pyramids and camels wandering around on the deserts. But economy-wise, my best guess would be that most people don’t think of Egypt as a very wealthy country, with it being stuck in between the Middle East and North Africa. Looking at the chart above,Egypt is colored in yellow, meaning that Egypt has a nominal GDP per capita lower than the countries colored in blue and green, but higher than the ones in orange and red.  The photo below is the GDP per capita ranking of 2013 done by the World Bank. Egypt was ranked number 121, so we can see that its GDP per capita is quite low compared to  a lot of other countries.

png;base6475eedfd8480d884f

Now zooming in to the North African-Middle Eastern Region, where we’ll be analyzing the regional scale. After averaging out the GDP per capita of most of the countries within this region, we ended up with the GDP per capita of 356,163 USD. Egypt, yet, only has the GDP per capital of 3,314 (2013)  as we can see in the chart above. So compared to some of the very wealthy Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar (GDP per capita- 93,714 USD), Kuwait (GDP per capita- 52,197 USD), or the UAE (GDP per capita- 43,048 USD), Egypt is still considered a very poor country. However, Egypt is still a lot better off than other countries in its region such as Yemen, with the GDP per capita of only 1,516 USD. Therefore, if we were to rank all the countries in the North African- Middle Eastern region by GDP per capita, Egypt would be ranked right around the middle. Going down into the even closer local scale, Cairo’s GDP per capita alone is 2,782 per capita. It is significantly lower than the country’s as a whole.

GDP per capita of some of the examples provided above

Libya 12,375.4 5,685.4 13,302.8 11,964.7
Oman 20,922.7 22,984.2 23,384.8 21,929.0
Qatar 71,510.2 88,861.0 92,801.0 93,714.1
Egypt, Arab Rep. 2,803.5 2,972.6 3,256.0 3,314.5

Moving on to the other factor that will be analyzed today; IMR, or the infant mortality rate. Most people, again, would probably think that Egypt has a somewhat high infant mortality rate due to the fact that it is located in the North African- Middle Eastern Region. It is pretty safe to say that Egypt does have a pretty high infant mortality rate, with 22.41 deaths per 1,000 births. However, it is only ranked 80 on the global ranking chart, with countries like Afghanistan and Angola fighting for 1st place with over 120 deaths in every 1,000 births. Looking at the map below, we see that most of the North African- Middle East region we’re analyzing are in different shades of lighter pink, indicating that the infant mortality rate in that region isn’t actually as bad as we thought it was. However, in the poorer countries such as Yemen, the infant mortality rate can reach as high as 60 deaths in every 1,000 births, pulling the regional IMR average up. After averaging out the infant mortality rate of most of the countries in this region, we ended up with 34.5 deaths/ 1,000 births. This is much higher than Egypt’s, which tells us that Egypt is actually dealing with the problem of infant mortality quite a lot better than its neighboring countries.

 

Infant Mortality Rate Map (2012)
Infant Mortality Rate Map (2012)
Infant Mortality Chart in Egypt compared to Under-five Mortality and Neonatal mortality
Infant Mortality Chart in Egypt compared to Under-five Mortality and Neonatal mortality

Though Egypt as a whole only suffers from 22.41 deaths in every 1,000 births, its capital city Cairo’s infant mortality rate is significantly higher, with 35.4 deaths per 1,000 baby/ This is probably due to the fact that most of the population is concentrated in this city, which increases the rate of air pollution and other factors that risks the lives of newborn babies, thus making the death rate higher than most of the other cities.

The scale of analysis can change our perception on the world greatly, it can also at the same time help us gain a better understanding of the world and how it works. In this case of Egypt, Egypt’s actual economy and infant mortality rate doesn’t show any dramatic difference as how people perceive it. Its economy isn’t on the top like the United States or Canada, it isn’t dead on the bottom either like Sierra Leone. But it could come as shocking for some people to know that Egypt actually has a pretty good economy, ranking 40 in the global scale as we have mentioned above. Egypt’s infant mortality rate also didn’t show any big differences than how the world perceived it. But whether there’s a dramatic difference of not, using the scale of analysis helps us learn a lot more about the world and what’s actually going on there.

“Geographic Origins of ISIS: Darkened Shadows Overcasting Southwest Asia”

ISIS Flag

Thousands and thousands of innocent civilians were executed in just the last six months in Iraq. Bodies piled on top of each other, blood flowing out forming a river, this is the work done by the one and only, ISIS ( “Banco” ). ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known sometimes as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is a group of sunni and jihadist militants who are extreme Islamic fundamentalists trying to bring back and enforce ancient Islamic laws. Their goal is to wipe out other branches of Islam, such as Shia, and convert or kill anyone who are not of their religion  (“Rowan”). They are very well known for their brutal slaughtering of all men, women, and even children. Looking at the history of the Middle East, or more accurately, Southwest Asia, we can see that the three main contributors of the geographic origins of ISIS are the religious and ethnic diversities caused by the disregardful boundaries left by previous colonial masters, the sudden population boom, and the invasion of United States are what caused the formation of the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Many of the conflicts in Southwest Asia today are caused by the neglectful boundaries set up by the British when they left Southwest Asia after World War I.  This all goes back to a hundred years ago, in 1914, when the First World War started. Back then, Southwest Asia plus some parts of Central Asia and Southeast Europe were still a part of a state known as the Ottoman Empire. During WWI there were two sides: the Allied Side and the Central Powers. The Allied Side included Great Britain, France, and Russia, and the Central Powers consisted of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Having already colonized Egypt and India, Great Britain instantly started planning on their conquest of the Ottoman Empire right after World War I started, in order to expand their colonies in Asia (“Rowen”).  The Ottoman empire fell to an end a few years after the world war ended, leaving the British to divide up Southwest Asia. Without giving it a careful thought, the British randomly divided up the lands, leaving countries with diverse religions and ethnic groups that are continually causing conflicts within the region. Mingled religious and ethnic groups within a country was the result of the British drawing superimposed boundaries without giving them careful thought. Most people in Iraq are Sunnis, leaving the Shiites as the minority religion. The Sunnis live mostly in the north, Shiites in the South and the Kurdish minority in a very tiny part in Northeastern Iraq. According to an Arab scholar named Sa’d a-din Ibrahim, more damage and devastation has been inflicted on the Middle East by religious and ethnic conflicts than by all of the Israeli-Arab war combined. Because the members of ISIS are extreme fundamentalists, they are intensely aware of the religious differences in some parts of their country. Iraq, for instance, has a Shiite minority in the south, thus causing tension between the northern sunnis and the southern shiites (“Rowen”).

Relgious and Ethnic Groups in Iraq
SUNNI AND SHIA DISTRIBUTION IN THE SOUTH WESTERN ASIAN COUNTRIES

The population growth rate in Southwest Asia has always been amongst one of the highest in our world, especially today. Currently, Iraq is growing at a constant rate of 2.23% per year. In the past 20 years, Iraq’s population has grown by a shocking 78% while Syria’s population has grown by 61%, according to the CIA World Factbook. (CIA World Factbook) A higher population means more resources such as food, water, and electricity are required to raise these children. As a result, young men start competing for jobs at adolescence, even before they’ve grown into a full grown man (“Chbosky”). Some children as young as the age of 6 or 7, also compete for jobs to support their family. This is a very important factor of the origins of ISIS, due to the fact that ISIS could be offering jobless people a job by having them sacrifice themselves to join ISIS. The population boom in Iraq and Syria causes the job industry to become more competitive. As the jobs are taken one by one, family supporters gradually become more hopeless and ends up supporting ISIS for money so they are capable of supporting their family (“Chbosky”).

The one thing the United States is very good at is intervening in conflicts they are not at all involved in, such as the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and of course, the ISIS conflict in Southwest Asia. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq wishing to stop the conflict involving terrorists. Putting together everything that the U.S had done while they were over there, we can safely conclude that it was a waste of time and energy. The intervention made by the United states did nothing but make things worse than they already were before. More than 500.000 people were killed during the invasion (“Iraq Body Count”). When the United States left, nothing was changed, the conflict was still going on. So the 2003 Iraq invasion summed up in one sentence: the United States invading Iraq trying to suppress the terrorists but ending up doing nothing other than killing thousands and thousands of innocent civilians. However, despite the U.S failing to accomplish what they originally planned in Iraq, they actually worsened the situation. After the invasion, ISIS was even more determined to achieve their goal of bringing back ancient Islam and wiping out anyone who did not want the same. The U.S’ efforts were recognized and understood. However, it just did not work and they were no where near effective in this case. (“Stilt”)

YEARLY IRAQI DEATHS 2003-2010

How the British drew the boundaries, the religious and ethnic minorities suffer from mistreatment of ISIS and the majorities of the region, and because of the U.S intrusively invading Iraq and trying to get involved in their conflicts, we have led ISIS to its formation which has definitely caused loads of conflicts for the people in Southwest Asia in the previous years.  At this point, we see no end in this such a terrible case and a turning back is unimaginable. It would not be surprising to anyone if one day ISIS starts another massacre like what the Yazidis did a few years back and slaughter a large number of people, and the main reason behind of this is due to the foolishness of the Western world, randomly drawing boundaries and getting involved in conflicts that do not welcome them. Blessings are sent out to the thousands of innocent civilians that suffered from the brutality of ISIS. Such groups of people are like giants with dark shadows slowly swallowing up Southwest Asia.

Works Cited

 

Ma’oz, Moshe, and Dale Eickelman. “Prospects for Religious and Ethnic Conflict in the Middle East.” – The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 3 Feb. 1997. Web. 21 Dec. 2014. <http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/prospects-for-religious-and-ethnic-conflict-in-the-middle-east>.

 

“Geography.” Infoplease. Infoplease. Web. 22 Dec. 2014. <http://www.infoplease.com/country/syria.html?pageno=1>.

 

Rowen, Beth. “ISIS Explained.” Infoplease. Infoplease. Web. 22 Dec. 2014. <http://www.infoplease.com/news/2014/isis-explained.html>.

 

Conant, Eve. “Iraq Crisis: “Ancient Hatreds Turning Into Modern Realities”” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 18 June 2014. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140618-iraq-shiite-sunni-isis-militants-maliki-borders/>.

 

“How Did It Come to This?” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 21 June 2014. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21604627-crisis-iraq-has-roots-going-far-back-history-recently-folly>.

 

Chbosky, Jamsheed K., and E.B Chbosky. “Defeat ISIS, but Let Iraq Split.” World Affairs Journal. World Affairs. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/defeat-isis-let-iraq-split>.

 

Stilt, Kristen, and Noah Feldman. “Analysts Discuss the Origins, Motivations, and Ambitions of Surging ISIS Movement (video) | Harvard Law TodayHarvard Law Today.”Harvard Law Today. Harvard Law School, 27 Oct. 2014. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <http://today.law.harvard.edu/islamic-state-play/>.

 

Banco, Erin. “ISIS Executions: 1,000 Iraqi Civilians Killed In ISIS-Controlled Towns Since June, Hundreds More Found In Mass Graves.” International Business Times. 3 Nov. 2014. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-executions-1000-iraqi-civilians-killed-isis-controlled-towns-june-hundreds-more-found-1718076>.

 

“Iraq Body Count.” Iraq Body Count. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <https://www.iraqbodycount.org/>.

 

Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/>.

Thailand Tourism Google Earth Map

Linked below is a Google Earth file containing information about Thailand. The colorful polygons are the different ethnic groups, and the pins include Thailand’s history, culture, political and economic geography, and a bunch of interesting tourist sites that are worth a visit! Click the link attached to the picture for more information.

Google earth
Google earth link on Thailand tourism

Globalization in Egypt

Globalization picture

Globalization has been an ongoing issue through most of the world today, it is the process of spreading ideas, goods, and beliefs through interaction, which affects the world environmentally, socially, culturally, and intellectually through advances in transportation. Globalization is caused by advances in technology- because of such advanced technology we have today, it makes traveling and communicating with different people easier due to the fact that everything is safer, cheaper, and more efficient.  How can we measure globalization? Globalization is made of three main components- economy, society, and politics.  Today we’re going to see if Egypt is a globalized country or not.

KOF Index of Globalization-2010
KOF Index of Globalization-2010

According to the KOF (acronym for the German word Konjunkturforschungsstelle, meaning cycle research) Index of Globalization, Egypt was around 40 to 60 percent globalized. The most globalized countries include Canada, Australia, and the Western European countries and they are all around 80 to 100 percent globalized. The least globalized countries include most countries in Africa (Sudan, Libya, DR Congo, etc), some countries in the Middle East (Iraq, Iran,Afghanistan), and a few in South and SouthEast Asia (Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam, etc) and they’re mostly globalized below 40 percent. Egypt is  not super globalized, but decently globalized. The chart below is the globalization rankings of 2013 out of 187 nations in which Egypt ranks 81. Compared to other African countries, Egypt is pretty globalized. However, compared to the more developed countries, Egypt’s globalization rate is still quite low.

Egypt globalization ranking 2013
Egypt globalization ranking 2013

Now moving on to the three types of globalization- economic globalization, social globalization, and political globalization.  Egypt’s economic globalization has been growing at a steady rate, it has signed quite a lot of trading agreements such as the Egypt-EU partnership, the Egypt-EFTA partnership, Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement, and the Egypt Turkey Free Trade Agreement.

Moving on to Egypt’s social globalization,  social globalization is based on three factors- data on personal contact, data on information flows, and data on cultural proximity. Data on personal contact is measured by things such as international tourism and foreign population in the country. Tourism is a big part of Egypt’s economy and society. Around 14.7 million tourists visit Egypt every year, helping Egypt earn nearly 12.5 billion. This is a factor in social globalization because having such a large number of tourists means that Egypt is tolerant of having foreigners visiting their country. Some isolated countries that are less globalized like Bhutan actually avoids having contact with foreigners from other countries. Next on in the social globalization part, we have data on information flow, which includes internet users and rate of families owning electronic devices such as the television. 49.6% of Egypt’s population uses internet and 95% owns at least one television set in their house according to a research done by the World Bank in 2011. The last factor in social globalization is data on cultural proximity, which means the amount of foreign markets such as Ikea or McDonald in the country. In Egypt, many foreign markets have emerged over the past few decades.

Lastly, we have the political globalization. Political Globalization can be measured by the country’s membership in international organizations such as the UN and its international treaties with other countries. Egypt is an active participant in the United Nations and has signed many various international treaties such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, International Convention Standards of Training, Certificates, and Watch Keeping, etc.

Globalization happens every single day throughout the whole entire world, Egypt will be expected to continue to globalize even further in the future.