Americans in Muslim Countries Minority essay

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Turkey is one of the most diverse countries in the Middle East; its boundary with Europe and the ancient trade routes that run through -- not to mention the centuries it spent as one of the world's largest empires, incorporating many diverse groups of people and drawing many individuals into its cities -- have kept it essentially varied in ethnicity, religion, and even nationalistic tendencies (Arnett 2006). Though there are famous (or infamous) stories of Turkish prisons, the majority of Americans have found it relatively easy to live a happy and productive life in Turkey -- the secular government and basically free and democratic economy is conducive to the same way o life that Americans are used to (Arnett 2006). There are issues with Turkish-American relations, but these tend to be on the macro level, involving the governments of the two nations rather than the individual citizens of these countries (Arnett 2006). At heart, individuals from the two countries seem not to have too much difficulty coexisting.

Many individuals are able to get along fairly well in Saudi Arabia, as well, but despite the stronger ties between the governments of that country and the United States of America, many other individuals do not. Saudi Arabia is a strict theocracy; the only reason there are such good relations between it and the United States is the economic interdependence regarding oil and cash between the two countries (Tan 1996). The vastly different laws and legal system, however, have led to what many Americans living in Saudi Arabia feel amounts to persecution (Tan 1996). Saudi Arabian prisons are at least as cruel as Turkish prisons are supposed to be, with confirmed uses of torture and much easier ways of getting there (that is, it is much easier to break the law in Saudi Arabia) (Tan 1996). There is also less ethnic diversity in Saudi Arabia, which is almost certainly at the bottom of the other overriding issues.

Iran is also a strict Muslim theocracy, though it is not always ostensibly run as such (Ansari 2006). Few if any Americans have lived in the country long-term for several decades, but brave journalists and others have ventured into its borders for weeks or even months at a time, often with disastrous results. Relations between the two countries have been bitter for quite some time, and this has made it almost impossible for Americans to live in the country for any length of time without concealing their identities (Ansari 2006). Though there are no major populations of Americans living in this country, Iran stands as an exaggerated example of what Americans living in other countries go through. The more strict the country is in its adherence to the Muslim faith, whether as part of a social or political doctrine, the more difficult life and assimilation are for Americans; religion is what causes the great divide (Ansari 2006).

Studies conducted from within the Arab and Muslim communities have confirmed these general findings, strengthening the suggestion that the more the society and/or government of a Muslim country is dominated by the religion of Islam, the more difficult it is for others to assimilate (Sabagh & Ghazallah 1986). This is especially true fro Americans in many instances, as anti-American sentiments have been on the rise in Muslim communities as Western civilization -- as typified by the culture of the United States of America -- has come to dominate world politics in many regions (Sabagh & Ghazallah 1986). American capitalism and other features of the government and society do not mesh well or at all with certain interpretations of the Islamic faith, which can end up causing major problems between American individuals living in strict Muslim countries and their neighbors (Sabagh & Ghazallah 1986).


he findings of this research clearly imply that the more dominant the Muslim faith is in country, the more difficulty Americans will have living in that country. This does nto correlate with macro-level relations between the United States of America and individual Muslim countries; while these inter-governmental relations seem to be built primarily (if not entirely) on foundations of financial pragmatism, interpersonal relationships on the ground in Muslim countries are dictated far more by societal pressures such as religion, ethnicity, and national identity. In these areas, American citizens stand out almost without exception as markedly different, and this of course makes life and assimilation more difficult. These findings ring true n almost any multicultural situation.


Ansari, A. (2006). "Iran and the U.S. In the Shadow of 9/11: Persia and the Persian Question Revisited." Iranian studies, 39(2), pp. 155-70.

Arnett, D. (2006). "The Heart of the Matter: The Importance of Emotion in Turkish-American Relations." Turkish policy quarterly, 5(4), pp. 31-40.

Bloemraad, I.; Korteweg, A.; Yurdakal, G. (2008). "Citizenship and Immigration: Multiculturalism, Assimilation, and Challenges to the Nation-State." Annual review of sociology, 34(1), pp. 153-79.

Friedland, R. (2001). "Religious Nationalism and the Problem of Collective Representation." Annual review of sociology, 27(1), pp. 125-152.

Sabagh, G,; Ghazallah, I. (1986). "Arab Sociology Today: A View from Within." Annual review of sociology, 12(2), pp. 373-99.

Tan, C. (1996). "Protecting U.S. Citizens Abroad: Why Foreign States Should…[continue]

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