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People of the Middle East Background • The Middle East is home to a broad diversity of people • Even throughout its history it has been home to many peoples • The Arabs make up the majority in several countries Different ethnic people in the Middle East according to language Arabs • More the half of the people are Arabs • Speak Arabic language • Religion they practice is Islam (90%); Christianity (10%) • Trace their roots to the Arabian Peninsula but today live in all countries of the Middle East • Three things that govern their attitude and actions – Belief in Islam – The Arabic language – The Arabic Culture The Saudis • Saudi Arabia is regarded with deep respect within the Muslim world – Birth place of Muhammad – Site of Mecca and Medina • Creation of a man whose name the country bears – King Ibn Saud (1882-1953) • Saudi royal family still rules the kingdom • Oil was discovered in 1936 and BOOM – area became important to the world The Egyptians • The World is fascinated with Egypt due to its history – The mummies, pyramids, sphinxes • In the past was considered to be an ally of the United States in the Middle East • Viewed Egypt as a way to make moderate changes in the Middle East • First nation to recognize and make peace with Israel • One of the most stable nations in the Middle East Iranians • Not Arab – Persian • Most are Muslim (90% are Shia, 10% Sunni) • Language – Persian, or Farsi, an Indo-European language that is distantly related to English • Location was Persia; now Iran • Iran means “land of the Aryans” • Persian Empire was established in 500 BC – One of the greatest empires of its time • 600 AD Arabs invaded the region and established Islam • 1979 new gov took over and set up an Islamic republic • Took Americans hostage (50 for over a yr) • War with Iraq in 1980 • Relationship with the United States is strained Lebanese • Descendants from the great sea traders the Phoenician • One of the most westernized of the Middle Eastern countries • Capital, Beirut, is the Paris of the Middle East • Made up of Christian, Druze, Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims – Spells doom • Its neighbors also cause problems for Lebanon – Syria and Israel • Civil Wars took places between 1975-1990 • Still dominated by Syria today • Israel still upset at Lebanon for harboring Hizballah militiamen in their fight against Israel Syrians • Really hate the west • Sometimes called the “Paymaster” to worldwide terrorist groups – Hizballah, Hamas, Islamic Jihadist • US believes that the Syrian government is backing the Sunni insurgency in Iraq • The Assad ruling dynasty tries to rule with an iron fist – But at times its own home grown terrorist organization have cause problems for the government • The current government might not have a very tight grip on its own people Turks • Language – Turkish, comes from the Central Asian roots • Religion – Islam • Location – was Asia minor; now Turkey • 56 million Turks • First people to live in Asia minor = Greeks and Hittites • Great city of Constantinople fell to Islam in 1453 – Changed name to Istanbul – Greatly changed Turkey’s future • Greatly “westernized” after WWI • Once thought to be an ally of the United States – US offered Turkey $6 billion to use military bases to attach Iraq • Parliament said no • Problems in Turkey today – Upsurge of Islamic terrorism – The Kurds • • Armenians • Language – Armenian • Religion – Christianity • Location – was Turkey; now Turkey and former Soviet Union (Republic of Armenia) • Were Christians living in a Muslim country, wanted own land – Massacred by Turks during WWI – about 1 million The Iraqis • Home of ancient Mesopotamia “the cradle of civilization” – Gave us agriculture and writing • Made up of Shi’ite (60%) Sunnis (32%) and Kurds – Each regard itself to be a separate nation and wanting its own homeland • After independence overthrew and executed the king and his family • Proclaimed a republic • Border disputes with Kuwait and Iran • Oil made the country wealth and powerful • Baath Party gained power in 1968 – Saddam Hussein came to power in 1979 • Ever sense the country has been in turmoil Kurds • Language – Kurdish • Religion – Islam • Location – was and is border separating Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and former Soviet Union – Call area Kurdistan – Do not have self rule – Largest ethnic group in world without a homeland • Have been slaughtered by the Iranians, the Turks and the Iraqis • The P.K.K (Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan) are a militant group of Turkish Kurds fighting for a homeland • A Kurdish saying – “Kurds have no friends” Palestinians • Language – Arabic • Religion – Islam • Location – was Palestine the areas surrounded by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon • In 1948, Palestine was formed into the Jewish state of Israel • Many Palestinian lost their homes, farms and businesses • Many became refugees (4.5 / 7.5 million Palestinians) – Some live in Israel (1 million) – Some live in West Bank and Gaza areas – Some live in surrounding countries (Jordan and Lebanon) – Many live in refugee camps • Many want a fully independent Palestinian state • Conflict between Palestinians and Israeli continues today Israelis • Language – Hebrew and Arabic are official • Religion – Jewish (82%) rest are Muslim and Christians • Location – Israel – Israel today = 4.1 million Jews; .9 million Arabs – Jews have move to various parts of the world • Abraham led his people to Canaan • Roman Empire conquered the region called it Palestine – Forced Jews to move = diaspora • Arabs conquered Palestine in the mid-1600s • Come under control of Ottoman Empire • End of WWI come under British control • Movement known as Zionism began • In 1948, Israel was created by the United Nations as a homeland for the Jews Patterns of Life in the Middle East Old and New Village Life • Most lived in small villages set up around water • Raised wheat, barley and olives along with fruits and vegetables • Everyone worked in the fields • Each village had a mosque and some stores to purchase items they could not make The Bedouins • Desert Nomads – groups of people who move throughout the desert following their herds – Sheep, goats and camels • Translates to “people of the tent” • Bedouins are found in every Arab country • Speak Arabic, but with a distinct dialect Life of the Bedouins • Very tight knitted groups- considered family • Traditional meals- lamb, chicken, rice and pitas • Traditional arts- weaving • Still use camels, but have 4x4 vehicles • Today offer a lot of tourist opportunities – Hiking, biking, music, food, the entire Bedouin experience. Life in Middle East- Traditional • Jerusalem, Damascus, Mecca- very important cities, trade routes and centers of learning • Mosques were the center of life – Served as meeting places, centers of study and inns for travelers Life in Middle East- Traditional • Suq- marketplace – Located in the center of the city – Each trade had it’s own section ( clothes, shoes, meats) Life in Middle East- Traditional • Marriages- traditionally arranged – Same social classes – Men could have more than one wife if each is treated equally • Divorce was allowed – Easier for a man – Both could re-marry Women in the Middle East • Prior to Islam women were slightly less valuable than livestock • Islam improved the lives of women greatly – Outlawed infanticide – Education of girls a duty – Woman had the right to own and inherit property – But they are not equal • Lives are governed by the Shari’a • No single picture of women living under Islamic law • Veil tradition/required by law in many Arab countries – Represents freedom for many and pride in Islam Life in the Middle East Today • Variety of Governments in the Middle East – democracy, theocracy, federation, republic • Rapidly growing population- ( will double in the next 20 years) – Cities are overcrowded – Problems adjusting to life in the city, getting jobs and providing for families – Mosques and coffee houses are popular places to meet – Young vs. Old • music, clothes, way of life Life in the Middle East Today… • OIL- some countries very wealthy due to oil – Unevenly distributed – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Iran, Iraq, UAE, Bahrain • Food Supplies are still a problem- – Government trying to cultivate land and provide water – Desalination- converting sea water into fresh water for drinking and irrigation – Very expensive process!!!
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