13 February, 2006

Fired On the Spot-Check It Out

Thursday Feb 9th-7Days stated that American Professor Claudia Kiburz was fired on the orders of Zayed University President Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan who also orded the firing of her supervisor a Briton, Andrew Hirst after eight years of service to the institution. Ms. Kiburz had distributed copies of the Danish Cartoons which have caused the Danes more damage and trouble than they ever had dreamed of. Mr. Hirst whose name was used in text messages concerning the cartoons, said that he had no knowledge of Ms. Kiburz's actions.

Shame, you would think that they would know better. What have we learned boys and girls? That being here does not mean really being here. As we have learned that they could care less about hurting their students and fellow Muslim staff and faculty meembers. Freedom does come at a price and they have paid it.

It really comes down to self respect. Having talked to both students and faculty from various universities here and have learned that there is a very subtle and sneaky disrespect that some of the faculty have for the local and Arab expat students.

Things like men teachers trying to shake girls hands, questions about abayyah and the color black, and now this.

So now the university are calling for sensitivity training, for everyone. Get this- if they didn't get when they first got here or like some who are married to locals and have been here since colonial times, and still regard Muslims with disdain then, how will the get it now?


To the Emiratis/Muslims et al, all I have to say is that you have to earn respect and you can't do that unless you respect yourself. So when these expats come to you with any kind disrespect give them no slack. Let them know simply, this kind of behavior is not appropriate.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

19 comments:

azucenamaryam said...

sorry for the typos, I should have been asleep hours ago.

marwan said...

"Men teachers trying to shake girls hands"

Didn't know about that one. Point to remember.

samuraisam said...

uhh.
First of all, welcome to 4 days ago.

Secondly, don't be so quick to draw a conclusion and type out a 30,000 word essay, Gulf News, 7days and Khaleej Times all had conflicting stories, the "investigation" of the whole issue took place in the evening, and she was fired at 10 PM.
An SMS was being distributed accusing her of doing stuff, and i'd be surprised if in the same day, she showed the class the pictures, then within hours and SMS perpetrating her to some sort of 'nazi-freedom of speech' activist, and then in the evening an investigation took place (i'm not bothered to look it up, but i'm sure the university is open well into the evening. not.)

What probably happened was she showed the photos to her class several days beforehand, someone didn't voice their opinion that they were offended, and they decided to begin SMSing about it around, probably twisting the story around, though, with all the conflicting reports in the newspaper, who knows. Then someone in the university was told about, or someone recieved the message who had serious mystical middle-eastern wastafarian powers, naturally pissed, because you know, whenever I get an sms from a random individual, I call up my wasta to end the career of two people straight away, more to the point, who wouldn't, anway, they called their uncles, bicycle repairmans' cousin and demanded that the teacher be fired on the spot.
Someone posted anonymously about what "really" happened here (about 3/4s down, posted at 09 February, 2006 14:41); of course given the tendency for people to "invent" stories at times like these, for instance I read reports on forums online during the whole "Sharjah Slasher" issue, someone said that the slasher was in an abaya walking from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi; PLEASE. DO PEOPLE GO AROUND FOLLOWING AND KEEPING TABS ON SUPPOSED MURDERERS? and all the stories about "My uncles, girlfriends, transexual dog walker saw blood seeping from under the door in a ladies bathroom, they busted down the door and found a dead chick, only there were no dead chicks reported in the news". Then we get AIDS shawarmas, money duplicating men from Nigeria, my parents email account recieves like 3000 freaking chain mail's a day, little girl who got abducted in Carrefour by a raging pychopath, taken to the bathroom, had her hair shaven off, and left, the parents told Carrefour management, and surprise surprise they didn't have the apparantly "to be expected" security feature of having bullet proof, metal, solid walls that magically appear from the roof at the push of a button and prevent said raging pychopath and little girl dressed as a boy escape.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong, but given the mass of conflicting stories regarding this particular event, the percentile of bullshit stories that circulate the region, ontop of the fact they fired someone who apparantly didn't know anything about the event itself looks a bit bad and leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Regardless of what happened, it says a lot for job security in the region, It's a joke.

Anonymous said...

Respect works all ways. Teachers who have no respect for the local culture have no business being here, and students who have no respect for cultures other than their own should go to Arabic language universities.

I think you will find there is a lot of ignorance and inconsideration around, azucenamaryam, and not as much malice as you seem to suspect.

Anonymous said...

The lyrics that come after "check yourself before you wreck yourself" in the Ice Cube song/rap are unpublishable in this blog.

Anonymous said...

"Men teachers trying to shake girls hands" is not thought of as an act of disrespect. In the West, it is considered rude if you do not offer to shake someone's hand. So it is a lack of cultural knowledge, not an open act of disprespect.

Furthermore, asking questions about the abaya is not disrespectful. It is an attempt to gain knowledge.

So, you are complaining in the first place about somebody doing something they shouldn't due to a lack of knowledge, and then you're complaining about people trying to acquire knowledge of local traditions and issues.

Kind of a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situation, huh?

You have to realize that people do not come here with a complete, fully-formed knowledge of local custom and tradition. You can only pick this up by being here.

So locals have to understand that when you invite a newcomer into your country, you have to be aware that they don't know everything about you, and there may be a couple of mis-steps in the learning process.

The extreme sensitivity that locals have about "being disrespected" is a manifestation of a massive inferioirity complex. Get over it - you're not intrinsically inferior to anybody. How about developing a thicker skin and a bit more self-respect. Nobody can degrade you without your own permission.

It takes some westerners a little bit of time to realize that they shouldn't shake women's hands, the same way it takes some Pakistanis in Britain a bit of time to realize that killing your sister for talking to a boy is illegal there.

e3ashig said...

What I find fascinating is that the university did not publish anything official on their website about the incident. I would have thought they want to clear their names and say exactly what happened and why they responded the way they did. I don’t really trust reporters (or bloggers for that matter) to get the right story as mentioned here, people just like to fantasies.

e3ashig said...

I also find it sad that alot of my westren friends in UAE, some of which have been in the country for years tell me that I am the only local friend they know outside of work. No wonder there is a huge cultural gap and misunderstandings (eg. I can sense the fascination by the no-hand-shakes right here). We should reach to each other and focus on the similarities rather than the differences.

Because honestly, from a westren prospective, newspapers dont paint a very glamerous picture of us despite their best effort.

John B. Chilton said...

Ask yourself why a Westerner is here in the first place? The days of get rich quick are long over. The days of hardship pay are over. That means that most of those that are here have a positive reason that leads them to be here rather than take much the same salary as back home.

For many of us that reason is to learn from people who are different from ourselves. That's certainly one of the most attractive things about my job.

Tim Newman said...

The shorter version:

"The locals are either unwilling or unable to take teaching jobs in the UAE, so we have to instead bring in expats. Oddly, these expats don't behave like locals, and I don't like it. I think these expats should behave just as we want them to, i.e. like us. But I don't want them to think they are like us, as that would make them all uppity, and they'd start asking for rights and stuff. No, let's invite them here, demand that they behave like us, but fuck them off back home if they start getting a bit too cosy. It's all about respecting yourself."

Anonymous said...

I'm not quite sure how to take this piece - is it just written to wind people up or? I was an expat teacher in the UAE for a long time so I know somehting about this.

"As we have learned that they could care less about hurting their students and fellow Muslim staff and faculty meembers. Freedom does come at a price and they have paid it."

Huh? What's that all about? Teachers "could care less about hurting their students"? My experience is that teachers are teachers generally because they like to be teachers and that certainly doesn't go very well with "hurting students". As someone said, you don't come to that part of the world to make money anymore. Those days are over. Especially as a teacher you don't make enough for that to be the only reason you come there.

And what "freedom"? I think we can safely say that the academic freedom that exist in the "west" does not exist in the UAE. In fact most of the freeedoms that you can experience elsewhere you don't experience there. So I don't get it - "freedom comes at a price". There is no freedom there so what's the price?

"Having talked to both students and faculty from various universities here and have learned that there is a very subtle and sneaky disrespect that some of the faculty have for the local and Arab expat students."

Again, I'm like WTF?

"Things like men teachers trying to shake girls hands, questions about abayyah and the color black, and now this."

Why is asking questions because you want to learn bad? Sure there are things I wouldn't have dreamt about asking but I've discussed abayas with students and they seemed glad I was interested. My experience was that the girls were much more open to talking about things than what we were told was the case. The problem was people "upstairs".

"Get this- if they didn't get when they first got here or like some who are married to locals and have been here since colonial times, and still regard Muslims with disdain then, how will the get it now?"

How else would they get it? Sure teachers get some training when they get there but that can only give you so much. You have to live there and work there, that's the only way to get that experience. To think otherwise is just stupid.

"To the Emiratis/Muslims et al, all I have to say is that you have to earn respect and you can't do that unless you respect yourself. So when these expats come to you with any kind disrespect give them no slack. Let them know simply, this kind of behavior is not appropriate."

I agree that you have to earn respect but that goes both ways. If students at my university class behaved like spoiled little brats, then how would that making me respect them? Expats should certainly not disrespect nationals, but many nationals need to grow up.

And thanks Tim, I like your short version much better.

samuraisam said...

I agree heavily with Tim Newman and mr.anonymous before me.
I think azucenamaryam just got owned.

azucenamaryam said...

Ok. I got yall. Re: Anonyms-But I must say that at least I have the cajones to but my name on what I write. If the Western way of doing things were so fantabulous why not say it loud and proud?

Sam- Better late than never, I am not a journalist, just someone who wants to create awareness. All of your scenarios are non sequitor. Cultural disrespect withing this society is endemic on all sides, but it seems that those with the Elizabethean attitudes towards the colonials are quite boring.
Job Security- go to the EU. In the US that is so passe.

Now collective protest Hmmm a new concept. As for Ms. Kiburz, let's take the Muslim's attitude which is if Allah has planned it for you, then nothing on this earth could stop it. And now that I have made you cringe, Oprah would say, for her this could be a new opportunity.
Meanwhile:
"Ahlan was Sahlan" which means literally "My people are your people" and when you are in someone's house they should obey the house rules. Still it begs the question why the saying "When in Rome do as the Romans do." doesn't work here?

As for the stereotypical Pakistani comment, see, that is what got the Danes in trouble. I feel your pain, all of those non-Bluebloods dirtying all of those nice respectable countries in the West tsk tsk tsk. So they escaped to this Arabian paradise

Really, who goes on a trip to a foriegn land thinking that they can do as they please. It's really unwise. Just get real about where we live and with whom we live with. Educated, informed, and learn to respect the people live with and travel safely.

Anonymous said...

"Re: Anonyms-But I must say that at least I have the cajones to but my name on what I write".

You're more than welcome to put your passport picture, home phone, address, shoe size, deodorant etc. on here as well, I still think most of what you wrote was just bs.

"If the Western way of doing things were so fantabulous why not say it loud and proud?"

I never said the "Western way" is "fantabulous". Some things are better in the west, and other things are better in the Emirates. What I would say (again) is that there is no academic freedom in the UAE and little to none freedom in other aspects of society too. Sure you're free to go camping almost wherever you want to, but that's true for some European countries as well. And my view would be that without that academic freedom you can never have a truly effective higher education system. If you cannot expose students to issues, be it comfortable issues or not, and discuss them, then you can only go so far in educating someone. I don't condone showing the cartoons to students but they should be able to be discussed, which they are not, and that's total crap.

"Meanwhile: "Ahlan was Sahlan" which means literally "My people are your people" and when you are in someone's house they should obey the house rules. Still it begs the question why the saying "When in Rome do as the Romans do." doesn't work here?"

It doesn't? In my experience expats by and large did their best to "do as the Romans" - they drove their cars like people with a death-wish, they maxed out their credit cards on all kinds of crap, they ignored all aspects of proper time-keeping, etc ;-) Seriously though I think most expats did their best to respect nationals and their culture.

"Really, who goes on a trip to a foriegn land thinking that they can do as they please. It's really unwise. Just get real about where we live and with whom we live with. Educated, informed, and learn to respect the people live with and travel safely."

Again respect goes both ways. If students disrespect a teacher, why should the teacher respect the students?

CG said...

Claudia Kiburz
Educational background
State University of New York at Albany, USAMasters of Science in Education, TESOL
State University of New York at Oswego, USABA Arts, concentration in ceramics and crafts, stained glass and fiber arts
Certification to Teach Art and TESOL, K-12, New York State
Professional experience
Teaching experience previous to ZU: Art and Learning Disabled Children
Teaching areas and interests
integration of poetry, literature, and art into language learning
Interested in developing expertise: Folktales and cross cultural communication
Service
Volunteers for PeaceEditorial staff of The Arabian ReviewTESOL Arabia Conference Job's Fair






Cross cultural communication?

CG said...

read this.....if you take any more on this issue.

azucenamaryam said...

CG-Thnaks for the link. Jeeesh! I don't know what is up. It's like living in The Dawn of the Dead sometimes!

SubhannAllah! Sometimes, the Euros and Americans take this so called freedom to far. I say them. feel free, why don't you, and take take a flying leap to hades.

And don't you dare call me intolerant.

I think this whole idea of always trying to civilize the savages, ala Claudia Kiburz et al who feel like these A-rabs need an opera, and romeo and juliet, and to learn to debate and challenge in a place that will get you kicked out, sat down, and shut up regardless of nationality, is just causing unnecessary havoc.

Anonymous said...

"And don't you dare call me intolerant..."

I'm very tolerant. So don't you dare. Because I will ...erm...tolerate it....?

J. Edward Tremlett said...

More here and, earlier, here

I've communicated with Claudia, and no one seems to be in full possession of the facts. I'll post more once she's outta town.

J

Post a Comment

NOTE: By making a post/comment on this blog you agree that you are solely responsible for its content and that you are up to date on the laws of the country you are posting from and that your post/comment abides by them.

To read the rules click here

If you would like to post content on this blog click here