Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Humor in the Moslem/Arab world

It seems to be a hot topic today, so I thought I'd do a few links:

At Dean Esmay's, Mary Madigan points out that humor about Mohammed was not always verbotan in the Moslem world.

Dr. Sanity has an excellent post on the different varieties of humor and the function they serve.

And then there's this.

Unfortunately, I can't find the appropriate link right now despite searching--but I recall shortly before the Iraqi War reading an article about the Iraqi people and their culture. It mentioned that the Iraqis were known throughout the Arab world for their sense of humor.

I thought at the time that, if true, this was indeed a hopeful sign for the future of the country. And, since the end of the war, I've noticed evidence of an excellent sense of humor on many of the Iraqi blogs (notably, Iraq the Model). A good thing; they've needed it, and will continue to need it.

22 Comments:

At 7:34 PM, February 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a good story from solomonia.com showing that all these cartoons were previously published in an Egyptian newspaper last autumn.

Here's more with actual scans from egyptiansandmonkey.

 
At 5:18 AM, February 09, 2006, Blogger camojack said...

I guess it's OK when they do it amongst themselves...

 
At 7:35 AM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Goesh said...

One of the biggest sources of humor in the arab world is using a dull knife to saw off the head of an infidel like you or me. They tell us we are going to be dispatched quickly to face allah's justice and the audience hoots and hollers and tells us patience is a virtue after about a minute of sawing. Islamofacists and the civilized world cannot cohabit the planet. I wonder why so many people continue to labor under the notion that we can? It is time to drop the pen and pick up a rifle while we still can.

 
At 9:44 AM, February 09, 2006, Anonymous erasmus said...

The Germans were never known for a sense of humor. (See Monty Python on that topic.) After WWII, in the late 1970s or early 1980s, they held a conference on the subject. A professor attending remarked that "we had a sense of humor here once, it was a Jewish thing."
Guess they took it with them to America. (As in the case of Billy Wilder.)
But now, Germans are seriously, I mean earnestly looking for their sense of humor. Why, DER SPIEGEL had a contest a few weeks ago, seeking the best (and worst, or Wurst) German jokes.
Better than looking for Lebensraum.
So, first we got to bomb some of the Muslim world to smithereens (sp?), then they too can seek...?
Or, is there another lesson (or joke) in there?

 
At 10:37 AM, February 09, 2006, Anonymous hgwells said...

When I read The Arabian Nights as an adult I was surprised by its humor and sensuality. Stereotyping Muslims/Arabs as violent fanatics is clearly wrong. Nonetheless it's hard to get a sense of how much of a workable relationship Muslims and Westerners can have.

Today Instapundit recommends "avoiding claims that the problem with Islam with Islam." But I must say that it does look to me that some of the problem with Islam is indeed Islam, and that a Muslim sense of humor will not go nearly far enough to make up for it.

I can't forget that the context for all the comic stories in The Arabian Nights is that the king will execute Scheherazade if she does not keep him suitably entertained.

 
At 11:20 AM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

Just a little light situational comedy for you.

http://photobucket.com/albums/e67/harry9000/?action=view¤t=FatwaImminent.jpg

 
At 11:56 AM, February 09, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

erasmus: do you have a link for that conference about German humor? I had heard of it before, too, a long time ago, but I never could find a source for it. Funny you should mention it; I was thinking about it when I wrote this post.

 
At 12:21 PM, February 09, 2006, Anonymous erasmus said...

neo

It was in a NYT article. I suspect in the 1980s. I recall the professor calling humor a "Jewish thing."
If you read German, the recent posts in DER SPIEGEL on the subject are, well, almost funny.
The jokes are mostly Henny Youngman quality.

 
At 1:05 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

If you can't laugh, then you can only cry amidst the tragedy. The Arabs have somehow found out the rage solution, to avoid laughing or crying.

 
At 1:17 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Holmes said...

Travelling to Europe recently, it seemed to me that Europeans do not smile a great deal. Americans could be spotted quickly, even if they dressed locally, by their quick smile. I am not sure what this means.

 
At 2:16 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Holmes: To Europeans, it means Americans are naive idiotic smiling cowboys :-).

 
At 3:11 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

No, No, it means Americans are arrogant enough to believe that they are someone important, a person that deserves happiness.

To the Euros, happiness does not happen from within, but from group unity and social systems.

That bridge is hard to cross, but such is the manifold diversity of human ingenuity and flexibility, that we are able to participate in and attend to all manners of defunct philosophies and crafts.

 
At 4:34 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger benning said...

ymar: So, you're saying that Europeans aren't happy? Cannot be, outside of a kind of group chuckle? Kind of a sad existence, isn't it? Is that the Socialist life? Or is it something else?

Perhaps they need some Three Stooges film festivals.

 
At 6:15 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I think the hope ended when Churchill got sacked. But I do remember that Chi Chia pet of the a guy wearing a turban. That was hilarious. More so than the prophet with a bomb for a turban.

 
At 7:09 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Judith said...

"The Germans were never known for a sense of humor. (See Monty Python on that topic.) After WWII, in the late 1970s or early 1980s, they held a conference on the subject. A professor attending remarked that "we had a sense of humor here once, it was a Jewish thing."
Guess they took it with them to America. (As in the case of Billy Wilder.)"

Also Ernst Lubitsch.

This reminds me of a workshop I took last month on liturgical music of the Arab Jews. Someone asked if Jewish and Arab music in those cultures was the same. The teacher (who comes from Iranian Jews and is getting her doctorate on this topic) said that because Islam has always been ambivalent about the arts (kind of like our Puritans), usually the Jews WERE the musicians. She said when the Jews were driven out of Iraq in the 1950s, Iraq lost all its professional musicians. (I also know that Baghdad was 25% Jewish before 1950.)

 
At 7:12 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Judith said...

PS And also, a factor in the ascendancy of the Netherlands over Spain in the 16th c. had a lot to do with the expulsion of all the Jews from Spain, who had intellectual capital in finance and trade. Holland was smart enough to invite them in and treat them well. (I wonder if the same was so for the Ottoman empire, which became more powerful in the next century I believe, and also invited the Jews in.)

 
At 7:21 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger troutsky said...

What could explain this phenomenon? Race, culture, hamburgers? Do you suppose all 1.2 billion Muslims (or Arabs, Ive noticed here they are interchangeable) have lost their sense of humor? Take my wife...please.I shot an elephant in my pajamas..I guess it IS all in the delivery.

 
At 7:32 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Judith said...

Black Israeli humor from Alison here and here.

 
At 9:39 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

um, you guys didnt like my Mo drawing did you?

Im crushed.

 
At 10:50 PM, February 09, 2006, Anonymous erasmus said...

Oh troutsky, the Jews of Europe went into the arts (high and low) because they were relatively open to them in the Hapsburg Empire and in Germany, while other areas were closed. And then many brought the tradition and talent here. And because they were outsiders. Insiders tend not to piss into the tent.
That doesn't mean others have no sense of humor. Ever see Brits roaring at Benny Hill or a Brighton comic?

So, loosen up. Go to Barnes % Noble and pick up "The best 1,001 Amish Jokes." Thighslappers, all.

 
At 1:22 PM, February 10, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

It isn't a surprise the Persians had boat loads of Jews. The Jews were usually safe in Persia, so long as the Sultan didn't become Mad and Crazed. There weren't a lot of pogroms in Persia during the 1700 hundreds, as opposed to Europe. I guess there was less of a class struggle, or maybe the peons in Persia feared the Sultan more than they disliked their money lenders.

Regardless, Jews found Persia, Baghdad, and Constantinople a safe haven to do business compared to Spain and their Inquisitions, Germany and their Holy Roman Princedome of frackality.

It wasn't until the Nazis infected the lower, middle, and upper classes of Arabia that things tended to go crazy for the Jews.

 
At 1:44 PM, February 10, 2006, Anonymous douglas said...

Now if only there were any humor in the movie...

 

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