Television, internet, and unacknowledged secularization in the Arab world.

Posted: 05 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Middle East Online, 5 August 2010, Hicham Ben Abdallah El Alaoui: "[T]here is also the growing presence of indigenous media outlets -- from news sources like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, through popular soap operas and the popular literature of self-help and romantic advice, to the explosion of musical and artistic creativity, which the internet has made possible and Arab youth have seized upon enthusiastically. In the Arab world as everywhere else, it is a prodigious cultural mash-up, whose commercialised version is the 'festivalisation' of modern Arabic culture -- a phenomenon in which Arab businesses, promoters and middlemen are entirely complicit. ... What is occurring in the Arab and Muslim world is a kind of schizophrenia: In private, one regularly consumes the cultural profane (via television, videos, the internet, and popular literature, or in carefully segmented semi-public spaces); in public, one proclaims one’s Muslim identity, avoids going to a movie theatre, and perhaps makes a show of religiosity by attending the mosque, sporting a beard or a veil. The two forms of cultural experience unfold in parallel, but it is the religious norm that maintains hegemony in the public space. In the Arab and Muslim world today, cultural practices produce a process of secularisation, but no one may acknowledge or accept it."