[...] Religious devotion is growing in the Middle East, and Islamic puritans worry that the widening intrusion that the telegenic Obama personifies threatens their hold on society. Muslim rappers scat about women's rights and tolerance; sitcoms are embracing romance and sexual allure; and a new generation of TV preachers, the Islamic version of their Christian counterparts, are dynamic speakers, less rigid in their interpretations of holy texts. Tailored suits have replaced beards and tunics.Or maybe not:
The Obama presidency will intensify the influence of American culture, but that dynamic can't appear to diminish the permeating role that Islam -- be it moderate or conservative -- has on Arab society. Yet even Obama's facial characteristics emblazoned on T-shirts seem more a reflection of the region than a foreign-imposed graphic. Islamic militants probably will be forced to search for new symbols in rallying followers to blow themselves up in their war against the U.S. . . .
Skepticism, however, can spin like a desert storm, and even the most effervescent poster-sized smile can dim quickly in the Middle East. Arab newspapers are already criticizing Obama for his postelection comments and decisions, especially regarding the Arab-Israeli divide. Obama's campaign statements about Israel and his naming of Rahm Emanuel, a Jew whose father once had links to a militant Zionist organization, as his chief of staff have Arab commentators warning of an Israeli bias . . .Bummer. Anyway, "it's a fascinating Bluetooth moment":
But for now, it's a fascinating Bluetooth moment; cyberspace is abuzz from North Africa to Damascus, Syria, to the white sands of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Arab world is about respect, saving face; you can cut a man, but you give him his dignity. Arabs say the Bush administration seldom understood this; they're hoping Obama's does . . .Or the dignity part, anyway.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad