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Zeitoun is a novel written by Dave Eggers which basically covers the happenings of the Hurricane Katrina and Abdulrahman Zeitoun who had decided to remain behind and safeguard his property while carrying out his mission of helping people. New Orleans and the Gulf Sea were harshly hit by the 2005 hurricane and the book shows a narrative of injustice, tolerance, stamina, and racism towards Zeitoun and his family. Apparently, Zeitoun hails from Syria, although he became a U.S. citizen through naturalization. He adores America plus is a moderately stanch Muslim. His wife, Kathy was originally a Christian though converted to Islam after marriage. They both were living the country’s dream but the striking of Katrina changed everything as he separated with his family as the rest of the family evacuated to his in-laws while he remained in town to check his property and due to his race he suffers prejudice as a result of the 9/11 terror attack. The paper deeply analyzes how race influences the society in Zeitoun while making references to Veiled intentions: Don’t judge a Muslim Girl by Her Covering” from Maysan Haydar, “States” from Edward Said, “Race, Culture, Identity: Misunderstood Connections” from Kwame Anthony Appiah (Eggers pp.7).
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Zeitoun takes up charity work during the calamity and assists the elderly who had been trapped and the inefficiency and unwillingness to help by the National Guard and the police is evident but he together with other civilians takes up the humanitarian work of helping people. Nevertheless, some law enforcement officers arrest him and put him in a temporary holding facility and the arrest rises a lot of questions as he and another Muslim detainee are mistreated harshly due to their religious and racial background. After the 9/11 terror incident in the country, Asian and Islam oriented U.S. inhabitants have had rough time as the law enforcers were arrested and detained for no reason. Once in the makeshift holding facility, he undergoes interrogation and strip searches without being told or rather read his crime charges or his rights. He is also subjected to cruelty and held in an outdoor, miserable, and crowded prison. Furthermore, he undergoes psychological torture as he is only given food that contains pork yet the guards are aware that his religious affiliation detests such.
Edward Said wrote an article entitled “States” which basically describes the alienation of the Palestinians by the rest of the world and especially under the oppression of the Israeli. With the use of pictorials, he fully describes the plight the people are under and shows how the Palestinians were relocated from their original habitat and are still being forced to another region. Through the article one is able to note that the Palestinians are homeless and more so they luck identity. This is so because Palestine was captured and its nationals exiled away from Israel and subsequent to their banishment, the Palestinians stretched out to the neighboring nations but they were not accepted in them either and some nations even sent them to special camps which were alienated far away from the community. This is similarly the kind of racism evident in the novel called Zeitoun which whereby the country sees Muslims as threats to the national peace and security (Hussein pp 3).
Said tries to investigate the reasons behind Palestinians being alienated from the rest of the world. He notes that despite them going through such hardships, they still remain slackly united. The new generation of Palestinians is left with no identity since their country was conquered by Israel and due to this they are always oppressed by the neighboring governments within Middle East. The racial discrimination and alienation of the Palestinians by the Middle East and also the West is quite shocking bearing in mind that they were exiled from their country by the Israeli (Hussein pp 164). This is a clear indication of to what extend or racism and segregation the Islamic community is going through in the eyes of the world and no one is raising a finger or rather questioning even as some of the countries boast themselves as being superpowers. The industrial revolution was responsible for changing people identity from their occupation or family to their respective country and therefore this new format or rather system of classifying people is the one responsible for keeping or unifying the Palestinians together even though they lost their country. Seemingly the new generation will soon lose its identity as they lost their nation and nothing we can do.
The mistreatment Zeitoun receives while under detention clearly shows how the American society is still holding its believes and cultural conservatism that all people having Asian origin or Islamic backgrounds are threats to the national security and yet they evidently saw how he risked his life sin saving many citizens who were trapped in their houses by the storm. The effects of the arrest are evident as Zeitoun rapidly loses weight and undiagnosed pain and actually he undergoes desolation as he believes that he will never be released. He even blames himself for the predicament but luckily his wife Kathy posts bail although afterwards the charges put against him become dropped. The bureaucracy legal system and that of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are evident for instance when FEMA gives them a complimentary trailer to reside in but seemingly he is not presented with the keys. It is hard to describe the character of the body towards his family who at that time were homeless but the bottom line argument is that they were being treated so unfairly due to their ethnic background or even religious affiliation. Even after they file complaint demanding reparation for Zeitoun’s confinement, it possibly doesn’t go through as the judicial process is sidelined or rather it is hard for them to rule in favor of him. Nonetheless, these activities didn’t derail or even dampen his spirits although he suffers post-distressing trauma but he dwells on achieving his massive satisfaction though rebuilding the city and more so his family (Eggers pp.76).
On the other side, his wife Kathy undergoes another hell where her family is in nervousness as they detest her wearing her hijab and even refusing to consume pork. This is an example of a typical American household which even though a family member was once a Christian and later turned into Islam they don’t trust him/her and they see them as a threat to national security. Kathy is seen to switch into Islam since she is dissatisfied with Christianity along with how her minister tells off Muslims openly and seemingly he disgraces her during the worshippers for compelling the thought of converting to Islam. Nevertheless, she presumes nothing erroneous with numerous teachings found in the Koran even those which christen for the execution of infidelities and which does not give basic human equalities or rights to women. Even though Imams have mobilized for the casualty of all Americans and also annihilation of the Israel nation, she still remains truthful to their grounds.
The Islamic veil is quit an essential factor in each and every Islamic oriented girl’s life. Maysan Haydar writes an article on Veiled Intentions: Don’t Judge a Muslim Girl by Her Covering, and she narrates her story regarding her incident with the Islamic customary religious veil. Hydra grew up within her mother who apparently was not exceptionally religious plus she was to some extent liberal, even though her father happened to be extremely religious and supposed in the expectations and gender role of his Islamic culture. Her mother trained her onto looking at the feminist and positive planes of the religious veil. Seemingly, she advised her that through the veil she would not be judged through her outward looks or even to be desired only because of her looks (Adams pp.183).
Her mother permitted her or rather gave her the option of either wearing or not wearing the veil. Apparently in high school she obtained lots of respect from the boys and actually she presumed people viewed her differently together with her goals due to her spotting a veil. She later had the presumption that men always were attracted to her because of her personality and not just because of her physical outlook and people admired how she used to connect with the people naturally with no enclosing to handle the pressure which came with sexual tension.
Many people don’t suppose that the Muslims wear the veil out of personal drive but they argue that the Islamic culture oppresses them in that it forces them wear hijab. Therefore when Haydar moved to New York, people seemed to understand that she chose to wear the veil on her will and not forced and they were always under disbelief shocked when they heard her talking about skateboarding and karate. This emanated from the fact that majority of the population presume that females in the Islamic culture were always under the directives of the male domineering and not allowed to enjoy their freedom (Adams pp.184).
While in New York, she comes across women who wear scantly as they wore backless tops and despised them a lot. She goes further to explain that she could not really picture herself wearing such kind of clothing and more so being liked by the male because of her body. This American trend was meaningless and ephemeral and she knew that the public believed that the Muslim women apparently didn’t posses a relation to their general physique since they were supposed to put on the veil and therefore she tries to correct their overall views. She tries to show the general public how the Islamic culture taught the girls when they were young that all of them were beautiful and consequently had fine looking bodies and therefore the value the Muslim woman put on her body underneath the veil is significantly higher (405). Apparently, God is fine looking plus loves beauty.
Haydar blames the American women who spend tremendous and considerable amount of time while preparing themselves so that they are seen by strangers and more so they even don’t put similar efforts to the men who spot them in such intimate settings (406). Traditionally, the additional coverings one had measured their richness but nowadays it s quite different as people prefer going almost naked so as to attract budding candidates.
Therefore, from the several Quran quotes Haydar gives so as to validate the wearing of the traditional hijab seems to be quite convincing in that she tries to clear the air on the issue of women in the Islamic community being oppressed by the virtual of wearing the veil. Therefore the audience the article is directed to is those people who perceive the Muslim woman wrongly and especially the crooked American culture. She uses the Quran so as to offer proof for her arguments and to some extent points that women dress themselves up according to their cultural backgrounds and teachings. The present society is majorly focused on an individual image and America always judges people according to their appearance alone. Consequently, Haydars’ ordinary attire is nowadays a veil which covers up her hair, and coupled with long sleeved shirt with jeans. She seemingly pronounces that the compassion of her veiling is individual freedom and believes that no woman ought to just because of their external appearance or even what they are clothed in.
The authorities who were supposed to handle the disaster with decorum and rescue people together with their property turned into mistreating and holding those citizens who were helping the trapped citizens. This was typical of the then administration especially after the terror attack in September 2001 which made it harsher and vigilant towards the Islamic community simply because the perpetrators of the attack had mainly Asian origin. Nevertheless, that’s not an excuse to treat Zeitoun the way they did. Therefore, there was absolutely no justification for undertaking such mistreatment and shameful behavior bearing in mind that the civilians needed urgent help and willing volunteers were present. Zeitoun has the feeling that Muslims in the country are being unjustly targeted by the lately enacted laws aimed at curbing terrorism and terror related activities in the country but their implementation has brought a lot of racism within the administration as they majorly target the Islamic community (Eggers pp.132).
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Kwame Anthony Appiah writes an essay on Race, Culture, Identity: Misunderstood Connections and throughout the article he tries to hypothesize on how it would be if we resided on a world which had no races, and what if people were segregated against due to their skin color. For instance, he argued out that the American societal division could not be made on the model of race (Appiah & Amy pp 34) and that the country was composed of numerous races that no one of them was inferior or superior to each other. Kwame acknowledges that this cultural diversity is responsible for placing where the nation is today and since it defines the people and makes U.S. the country it is today. Therefore its interesting having that in mind and at the same time visualizing or rather identifying the amount of racism some people and government agencies have on the Asian/Arabian/Islamic communities in the country.
Kwame describes race as being populations whereby in this case America is composed of one race that is the human race/American race in a geneticist’s sense (Appiah & Amy pp.24). Therefore his explanation on why the American social divisions are unable to be understood using the conception of race is that the solitary race in that country is that of human race. He further detests the division on cultural backgrounds and proposes the use of the concept of racial identity when classifying the Americans (Appiah & Amy pp 47). Even though his description of race may be confusing and hard to conceptualize but it is better to not classify people on the basis of their ethnic backgrounds and use his concept of race in indentifying them. The racism aspect in the novel of Zeitoun is absolutely different but one can argue that the administration ought not to discriminate people on the basis of their cultural backgrounds.