US Professor Discusses “Muslim Majority” Cultures
Boston University Professor of Anthropology Jenny White analyzed the position of “Muslim majority” nations such as Turkey, Syria and Egypt at the Abant Platform. The Abant Platform is a conference of scholars, journalists and civil organization leaders meeting for three days in the scenic Abant Lake region of western Turkey.
White felt that the ideal of what she called “Muslim-hood” was a better ultimate result of religion in Muslim majority nations than the “Islamicism” of organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In this White felt that Turkey and the AK Party leadership of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan was in a position of accent having fully embraced the “Muslim-hood” concept of religious freedom but not Islamic dominance of Turkish society.
At the same time White was impressed with the relaxed nature Arabs use in approaching their cultural identity. Arab culture, according to White, is more “comfortable with itself.” Meanwhile, White stated that the “Turkish cultural identity” is a highly conflicted issue in Turkey.
One general common concept White found widespread through out many Muslim majority cultures was the abrogation of personal and individual freedom to the greater majority. In this, explained White, a person rarely thinks of him or herself in the individual sense. Instead people often think of themselves as part of larger whole. This begins, said White, first in the family, then the educational and religious realms and finally in politics and the workplace.
In some ways White felt this cultural construct of “the common good” was helpful and beautiful as opposed to cold overly individualistic Western culture. However, White stressed that Muslim majority cultures dependence on family and other intuitions retarded the growth of a protective, democratic national governments in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions.
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