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← Admitting you're an atheist while travelling in the Middle East

Jon McGill's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Jon McGill

@IDLERACER, I was in Yemen to learn Arabic. Immersion is the best way to learn a language. Why Yemen? Because it's one of the few places were English is still rare, and the dialect of Arabic is closest to Fusha (classical Arabic) which is what I've been learning.

@gordon, Eight years? Holy crap... I would have gone crazy being there for much longer and I was only there for a month. My Arabic could have probably used another few months, but I got advised to leave the country by friendly sources... and I tend to listen to that sort of advice. I met a British guy who was there working in the oil industry, but he had a bodyguard with him everywhere he went (other than inside the language institute).

@ZenDruid, try translating that into Arabic. ;-)

@RDfan, I guess if you are confident in your judgements of people that could work. In fact, I had a similar strategy, but I found myself giving the honest response, i.e. I'm an atheist (ana gheer mutadeen), to more and more people, and that's probably where the risk grew dangerous since you can't really know who the violent ones are. My friend in Yemen, abd al Qadir, told me that some al Qaeda guys were recently caught in Sana'a, but they weren't the kinds of personalities you would expect (i.e. the Saudi Arabia profile of smart, disciplined, angry, hateful kind), but rather they were found chewing qat and cavorting with women, and were pretty stupid.

@yuriicide, I have a followup question for you. If you're in the middle east with a foreigner, would you want them to pretend that they are Christian when in fact they are Atheist? Wouldn't the dishonesty somewhat annoy you?

@everyone else, thanks for your comments! This was a nice discussion!

Wed, 25 Apr 2012 09:33:23 UTC | #937160