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February 19, 2011

I’m Down With The Uprising (Until They Stop Looking Like Us)

Given how close we’ve been to the Middle East uprising, here’s a set of pictures and questions to consider while Bag lays low for a few days….

How much were the pictures from Egypt — given the near-bloodless, predominantly secular and victorious overthrow of Mubarak — like cotton candy for American eyes, especially as compared to uprising scene populated by Islamic citizens in other countries, particularly citizens in religious garb, especially as regional discontent ratchets up the level of uncertainty in the West?

The photo above is not from Egypt but Bahrain, as is the one below. Still, the picture of the Arab street is highly Westernized, so much so that we tend to identify with the protesters almost completely as they form a contrast between themselves and these gilded portraits with all the drapery.

But then, what happens to our sense of affinity and solidarity when we see a democracy protest that looks like this.  Notice, by the way, how the top photo also has women in Burkas, though in that case, the tendency might be to consider them as somehow beyond or extraneous to the protest.

(photo: Andrea Bruce for the New York Times. caption:  Demonstrators in Bahrain carried defaced posters of the King and Crown. photo: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters. caption: Women mourn for a protester killed during a protest on Monday, as people gather at a Shi’ite village cemetery in Sanabis, west of Bahraini capital Manama, February 15, 2011. Thousands of Shi’ite protesters marched into the capital on Tuesday after a man was killed in clashes between police and mourners at a funeral for a demonstrator shot dead at an earlier anti-government rally.)

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