CONTENTS OF Vol. 31, Nos. 3-4, 2006

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MARIA ROSA MENOCAL: “To Create an Empire: Adab and the Invention of Castilian Culture”

ABSTRACT: This essay explores the relationship between adab and the Castilian translation movement led by Alfonso X in the second half of the thirteenth century. The author suggests that the entire Alfonsine era can best be understood in terms of an Arabic tradition converted into a Castilian one. Through the translation movement, the Castilian vernacular became the vehicle for a secular and bellelettristic culture that represented the culmination of the imperial aspirations of Castilian kings living and governing as latterday versions of Andalusian rulers. Among other topics, this essay proposes a non-linear relationship between Toledo’s Castilian and Latin translation movements (and their parallels to the Arabo-Persian adab tradition versus Baghdad’s scholarly translations and commentaries), discusses the complex concept of mudejar, and touches upon some of Alfonso X’s first translations from Arabic into Castilian.

KENNETH E. SHAW: “Human Resources and Development in the Arabian Gulf Region”

ABSTRACT: Recent writing on the Middle East and in the Gulf region relating to human resource accumulation and skills are discussed, especially with reference to the chronic problems of unemployment there and issues of economic and social development. Responses to the problems are divided between those advocating solutions based on the opening up of markets and the role of the private sector and those favouring state initiatives to promote employment. I argue that within a complex social reality people engage in conducts within social constraints, which reflect back on social institutions, including markets, people and institutions modify each other reciprocally. Education has a role within these processes by promoting valued skills and thus human resources. These may enhance competitiveness, promote economic success and thus the creation of sustainable worthwhile employment as part of national development. The state working with the market can promote such programmes in the region. But to do so needs a skilled, professional bureaucracy. Introducing reforms would entail a degree of modification of cultural assumptions about work, both in families and in employees, as well as substantial evolution in school pedagogies and curricula. Whilst some countries have achieved success in delivering employment through free markets, in many others the mobilisation and coordination of resources across many government departments has been a vital requirement. Conditions in the MENA region point to the need for the member states to take further initiatives for reform and regulation, rather than rely heavily on market-orientated structural adjustment programmes from the international Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

ABBAS HAMDANI: “Arabic Sources for Pre-Columbian Voyages of Discovery”

ABSTRACT: In line with many “diffusionist” scholars I have held that before Columbus’ arrival in the “New World”, there have been many explorations in the Atlantic with the purpose of discovering a new continent. For these pre-Columbian events there is very little historical material, although there is considerable archaeological evidence. Arabic geographical and historical sources have been referred to before, but not all have been collected in original and translated in English at one place. This has been done in this article. They are the works of al-Mas‘udi (died 345H/956A.D), al-‘Udhri (died 478/1085), al-Idrisi (died 560/1165) and Ibn Fadl Allah al-‘Umari (died 749/1349). Several inferences have been drawn, particularly that the Native Americans probably reached the Canaries islands before Columbus arrived in the Caribbean; and that Berber ships reached Brazil. The Hypotheses presented are backed by a discussion of ships, sails, winds, currents, maps and scientific instruments and also by parallel historical evidence. In addition to the Arabic sources, a Chinese source has also been examined.

KATARZYNA JARECKA-STEPIEN: “Polish Travellers in Libya”

ABSTRACT: This article presents the history of the relationship between Poles and Libyans up till the Second World War. It shows that the number of Poles in Libya has changed over the years. At the beginning there were only a few Polish travellers. Perhaps the first Polish visitor to reach Libya was Prokop Pieniazek, the admiral of the Maltese fleet in the 16th century. Poles first arrived in Libya looking for discovery and trade. They were followed by journalists, writers, scientists and travellers; only a few Poles took holidays in Libya.

WASIF SHADID: “Muslims and Islam in Western Media: Selective Coverage and Negative Presentation”

ABSTRACT: Recent publications demonstrate that news coverage of Western media of issues dealing with ethnic minorities, and especially with Muslims, is far from ideal. The media directly and indirectly contribute to the creation, spreading and maintenance of stereotypes and prejudice towards the groups concerned, and even play a central role in their discrimination in society. Put differently, these findings confirm the views of communication researchers that the media are powerful devices for communicating information, and that they do create stereotypes, mainly by underrepresentation of the groups concerned, selective coverage, stereotypic presentation, and framing and priming.
    Journalists’ organizations have long ago recognized the risk of this negative effect. The ‘Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists’ dating from the 1950s stipulates that the journalist shall be aware of the danger of discrimination being furthered by the media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based on, among other things, race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinions, and national or social origins. Despite this warning, journalists generally react indignantly when accused of stigmatizing ethnic minorities, claiming that they only report objective facts, real events and opinions already prevailing in society.
    As far as Muslims and Islam are concerned, recent research still clearly identifies persistent shortcomings in the news coverage of issues concerning them. These shortcomings are: the simplification of their cultural and religious issues and its presentation from an outsider’s view; their stigmatization and problematization; the division of Western societies in ‘we’ versus ‘they’; and finally, the neglect and exclusion of the Muslim groups concerned. Furthermore, the media portray them and their religion as backward, irrational and fanatical in contrast to their own (religious) groups which are characterized as modern, rational and tolerant.
    In order to avoid new prejudices a number of strategies are discussed. These strategies include measures such as exerting caution when mentioning aspects such as nationality, religion, culture or birthplace in negative media messages; the appointment of more journalists and editors with an immigrant ethnic minority and Muslim backgrounds, and the establishment of independent monitoring organizations. However, the realisation of a mental adjustment in the media’s perception of the position of Muslims and Islam in society is indispensable. Considering Muslims as permanent citizens and Islam as a new domestic religion and not as an imported medieval ideology will amplify the effects of the suggested strategies.

AHMED FAROUK: “Une Police des Mers pour Neutraliser les Corsaires Marocains au XVIIIe Siècle”

RÉSUMÉ: Parmi les inconvénients de voyages d’affaires dans les eaux de la Méditerranée occidentale, au XVIIIe siècle, on peut avancer la présence active des corsairs marocains. Les Salétins, comme on les appelait dans les documents consulaires de l’Europe occidentale, inquiètent marins et patrons des bâtiments de commerce qui fréquentent les eaux du détroit de Gibraltar et des mers proches. La rencontre avec un Salétin, quand on n’est pas armé pour la guerre, est toujours signe de mauvaise augure, et les risques de perdre les biens transportés, equipage et liberté sont grands et bien réels dans ces parages.
    Les nations maritimes chrétiennes (Angleterre, Pays-Bas, France) touchées par le phénomène corsaire marocain, ont maintes fois manifesté leur inquiétude puis leur exasperation face au tord que subit le commerce. Aussi pensent-elles, dans un premier temps, que la solution pour enrayer ce phénomène désastreux pour les affaires, passerait par la négociation et la signature de traités de paix pour la liberté du commerce et de la navigation en Méditerranée occidental. Mais les intéressés sont divisés et les exigencies des Marocains ne sont pas favorablement reçues dans toutes les chancelleries. Et au Maroc une attention plus particulière est accordée aux Anglais qui acceptant de founir au sultan de la poudre et des agrès, au grand dam des autres nations. L’attitude des Anglais est compréhensible voire légitime; le maintien du Rocher de Gibraltar mérite bien quelques concessions. Les activités diplomatiques ouvrant des négociations pour la signature d’un traités de paix entre le Maroc et les nations chrétiennes au début du XVIIIe siècle, piétinent et trainent en longueur. Elles débouchent dans la plupart des cas sur la liberation de quelques captifs et au mieux on aboutit à une rédemption générale. On se rend bien compte que les sultans du Maroc tirent de la course des avantages substantiels et un certain orgueil. Et la signature d’un traité de paix en bonne et due forme équivaudrait au tarissement de la source qui alimente, par intermittence, les caisses de l’Etat en période de crises et d’agitation socials. Après la mort de Moulay Isma’il (1727), les prétendants au trône, nombreux, avaient besoin d’argent pour payer les services des ’Abide, cette armée mise en place par le sultan défunt, et qui n’obeissait désormais qu’à celui qui faisait preuve de grandes largesses à leur égard. Les rentrées pécuniaires, suite à la vente des captifs, Durant la période d’interrègne, ont donc permis de maintenir les princes sans pauvres dans l’espoir d’occuper un pour la première place de l’empire.
    L’échec des moyens diplomatiques a determine les nations maritimes, usagers de la rourte maritime passant par le détroit de Gibraltar, à prendre en main la défense de leur commerce et la protection de leurs marins. Et c’est ainsi qu’une police des mers, patrouillant au large des côtes marocaines est mise en place. On devrait plutôt parler des polices puisque chaque nation déploie les moyens nécessaries de contrôle en fonction des circonstances. Ainsi les frigates françaises et hollandaises qui croisent de part et d’autre du détroit de Gibraltar rassurent les ressortissantes de toutes les nations présents à Cadix, Tétuan ou Malaga. Par contre les Anglais du fait de leur présence permanente dans le détroit, adoptent un système de surveillance et de protection mixte: terrestre et maritime. Là nous avons un cas unique qui souligne la particularité anglaise en matière de police des mers: la présence d’un bâtiment scrutant les mouvements du littoral marocain pendant plusieurs années, de quoi dissuader le plus téméraire des Salétins.
    Les ouvements des frégates de surveillance, atténuent pendant certaines périodes l’activité des corsairs. Mais cette présence armée ne peut être continûment maintenue à cause des frais lourds qu’elle génére. Et ce ne sera que sous le règne de Sidi Mohammed ben ’Abd Allah que des changements politiques profonds apporteront un début de règlement et coopération.

YAHIA H. ZOUBIR and LOUISA DRIS-AIT-HAMADOUCHE: “The United States and the Maghreb: Islamism, Democratization and Strategic Interests”

ABSTRACT: Historically, the United States did not perceive the Maghreb as a region of strategic importance. However, today the Maghreb has become of great interest to the United States. Many reasons explain this. A major factor is economic, stemming mostly from US energy needs and instability in Asia and the Persian Gulf. The United States’ political interests are related to the traditional allies (Morocco and Tunisia) and the new partners (Algeria and, eventually, Libya). Military and security interests are concerned with the war on terrorism.
    Given the ambiguity of US policy towards Islamism, we examine the functionality of the phenomenon, starting with the definition of the American perception of Islamism. We examine American policy and the influence of Islamists’ perceptions of US relations with North African countries. What does ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ Islamism mean and how do these contribute to the making of American policy towards North Africa? First, the answers are linked to the national religions and politics of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Second, they are associated with American interests in each of these countries as well as American interests in the region as a whole. In this framework, US security policy in the Maghreb-Sahel region ought to be analysed by looking at the nature of US assistance to the regimes in combatting armed opposition. We argue that the United States does not require the opening of permanent military bases, which would increase anti-Americanism; instead it uses local forces to the job, while also securing temporary, discreet bases in case of emergency.



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