“Perhaps no region of the world is more subject to stereotypes than the Middle East. Being a woman from that region, I have encountered these stereotypes on many occasions. While I was a teen, my family lived in Europe for a few years where I was often asked question reflecting these stereotypes. Do all Turkish women wear the headscarf? Um, obviously not. Do you ride camels? I have never seen one in my life outside of a zoo.
At one dinner party, I witnessed my mother get interrogated on whether she was just dressing in a modern way because she was now in Europe. She kept trying to explain that she had changed nothing in her wardrobe. “But, can you actually wear a one-piece bathing suit to swim in a beach,” one of her obnoxious interrogators persisted, unable to believe she might be telling the truth. “Well, now that I am a bit older, I do wear the top as well,” she deadpanned. Ah, the joys of messing with stereotypes.”
It is a single story of one Turkish girl, which illustrates all type of stereotypes about Arab World. The oldest traditional stereotypes associated with the Arabic countries are derived from Arabian Nights and include flying carpets, dreamy palaces, people climbing on an erect rope and djinns. Since 9/11, people from Middle Eastern countries are often stereotyped as fanatical Muslims out for blood, hijacking planes, making anti-Semitic comments, slaughtering sheep in the kitchen, making too many children, conducting suicide bombings, being aggressively offended by blasphemies or planning terrorist activities. Arabic immigrants in all European countries are a frequent target in racist Western propaganda. You just need to see the detention without trial of eight foreigners in England in 2004, that was incompatible with European human rights law.