Don’t know how this happened, but this was supposed to have been posted in 2009 not 2010!…lol… oh well, the questions are still salient as afar as I am concerned.
So been a week or two I guess. I had a very merry Christmas, as merry as can be expected when you’re in an Arab country that doesn’t even do Eid up big time…. Things are soooo dry here! I went with a friend to a Catholic church, which I have never been in for Christmas anyway and it was nice. I felt normal, like some of the ridiculously high levels of gender segregation didn’t apply… it was good for the hour or so it lasted. Catholicism to me anyway is filled with so much symbolism form the pictures in the churches to the different parts of the services…. my friend who is Polish said that this doesn’t happen in her church so I don’t know how often it happens around the world, but they pulled out baby dolls and people went up to kiss them as symbols of the baby Jesus.
The thought came to me that Catholicism is like Christianity for dummies… I have been missing my family like mad, and can not wait till I go home for vacation (or is it forever?…lol).
I also realized how much I miss Amreeka (America) and value religious freedom. I knew it wasn’t going to be all that similar here, but dang, really, all the churches are in the middle of now hwere is the same compound. It litterally took us like 8 hours to get there and back. REally Qatar? BUt at the same time Qatar never professed to be beacon of religious freedom at least they allow more than one kind of church to exist/hold services, unlike Yemen (who only let the Catholic church, but at least that church was in a more central location). Religious freedom in the Arab world is an interesting topic to say the least. I said in a class discussion a few weeks ago that I don’t think it exists, not the way I define it anyway here. I guess some folk were offended…. oh well, the truth hurts!
the two main rebuttals were a christian guy who says he feels just as free to practice his religion here as he does at home… perhaps we should ask the Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Bahai’s how free they feel… At the same time, he noted how strange it was that the the churches were/are not allowed to have crosses outside the buildings.
Another person, a Muslim woman said that Muslim countries give freedom to Christians to practice their religion, it’s not a problem and they don’t put limits on them…. well, my rebuttal was a mix of the above, and letting her know the only places these churches are allowed to be built in Doha, or should I say on the hinterlands between Doha and the desert…..lol :-/
Qatar is not obligated to allow any form of religious practice outside of Islam if it doesn’t want to, however I’m not going to give it a 9/10 for religious freedom when it doesn’t really have that…. (don’t get me started on the Sufi bashing that goes on here :-(
At any rate much has happened in the past few, I performed a traditional Qatari Dance during the University’s National Day celebration. After the performance (which was IMO a hot mess thanks to complete jacked up way that things were run… but that is another post) I noticed something strange among the swarms of female students…… they were hanging out in groups according to skin color.
I thought I was seeing things, but I have asked some of the women in the dorm about this, Arabs and Africans but none of which are Gulf Arabs, and the unanimous consensus is that DUH! that is precisely how things work around here. The black girls pretty much only hang out with each other and vice versa. As a matter of fact, White Gulf Arabs don’t marry black Gulf Arabs.
I don’t know how to breach the subject with the few Qatari “friends” I have (incidentally two “good” friends, one a black Qatari and one a white one are best friends). But I would really like some perspective on this. I certainly haven’t seen any white-black Qatari couples walking around the malls and such, but I don’t know how much attention I have been paying.
Life in the Gulf, Well it will be soon over, at least for a while, I am going home in about a week for about a month…. that will surely give me time to process some of this stuff.
and btw, to get to my house in the USA you have pass- A Hindu Temple, Baptist, Episcopal and Anglican Churches , A Muslims community center and a Jewish synagogue….. God bless America!….lol