Saturday, March 04, 2006

Arab, Muslim, whatever.... it's all Greek to Bush!

Yesterday, President Bush said:
“On my trip to Islamabad, I will meet with President Musharraf to discuss Pakistan’s vital cooperation in the war on terror and our efforts to foster economic and political development so we can reduce the appeal of radical Islam. I believe that a prosperous, democratic Pakistan will be a steadfast partner for America, a peaceful neighbour for India, and a force for freedom and moderation in the Arab world.”
George Bush revealed his great ignorance once again. Pakistan is NOT an Arab country. In fact, later, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters that Bush meant to say Pakistan would be a force for freedom and moderation in the Muslim world. Oh, I see...!
If he does not see the difference between Arab and Muslims, the Pakistani will. But certainly in this day and age, the least you expect from a president who needs to win the support of countries like Pakistan is to learn something about them.

It is true that only a few years ago, when he was a presidential candidate, he could not name the man in charge of Pakistan - already a major hot-spot in the world and a nuclear power in 2000 (BBC):
Reporter: "Can you name the general who is in charge of Pakistan?"
Mr Bush needed a breather. "Wait, wait, is this 50 questions?"
Reporter: "No, it's four questions of four leaders in four hot spots, " the reporter tried to put his victim at ease.
Bush: "The new Pakistani general, he's just been elected - not elected, this guy took over office. It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country and I think that's good news for the sub-continent," the Republican candidate offered.
Good news, but not an answer, and the interviewer insisted: "Can you name him?"
Bush: "General. I can't name the general. General" was all Mr Bush had to offer.
And by the way, if you don't what is meant by "Arab countries" you have an excuse - you are NOT running the world and you don't have a staff of people writing your speeches.
Just for the sake of it, here's the list of countries considered 'Arab' beause their official state language and most of their inhabitants maintain Arab identities (irrespective of their race or ethnic origin) and are therefore considered part of the Arab world - even if the label 'Arab' may be debatable for some of them (but no matter how you take it, Pakistan is definitely NOT one of them):
  • Algeria
  • Bahrain
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Mauritania
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tunisia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Western Sahara (SADR)
  • Yemen

One should also remind Bush that the largest Muslim nation in the world is NOT an Arab country!


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