Monday, November 23, 2009

Leo Africanus- Part 4 and the Economist Articles

The last section of Leo Africanus deals yet another turn of events for Hasan. Hasan takes a new wife Maddalena who was a practicing nun. She receives permission from the Cardinal to be pardoned from the convent and from there, both she and Hasan marry and are blessed with a son. Shorly after, Hasan’s friend, the Pope, dies and his replacement Pope Adrian takes office. Pope Adrian employs a very conservative and sort of tyrannical approach with the people. He orders all men to shave their beards and puts strict prohibitions on the types of literature the people are permitted read. Hasan defies the new Pope’s orders refusing to shave his beard and reading materials that the Pope did not approve of. Following such transgressions, Hasan is arrested and imprisoned. Pope’s Adrians extreme conservatism fosters resentment from his people and his poisoned. Hasan is granted a pardon from the Cardinal and he and his family are free to settle down in Tunis.

The articles in the Economist were quite interesting and provided a non-bias perspective of the Arab World and the issues that concern them as a people and as part of the greater international stage. The first and second articles deal with the political turmoil that the Arab world currently faces. The first article highlights reasons for the political unrest. The division amongst the different nations and sections of the Arab world, the ongoing strife with Israel and the autocratic political approach that uses repression tactics to maintain power are emphasized as the three most glaring causes for the political stagnation in the Arab world. The second artlicle then discusses how the United States (mainly as a response to the Sept. 11th attacks) tries to advocate democracy as a way of quelling the instability and perceived danger that exist in the Arab world.

I really like Leo Africanus, but I found the economist articles more interesting. I was unaware of the many strides that nations in the Arab world have made in modernization. Immunizations, nutrition and healthcare was discussed as some of these improvements. I also found it extremely interesting that there the literacy rates pretty equal among the Arab population despite socio-economic status and are a lot higher than some of the rates that currently exist in “developed” nations. I enjoyed reading about this area of the world because so much of our current politics centers around the Middle East and yet all we hear is one-sided discussions through the media.

1 comment:

  1. The most interesting thing that I found between the readings of the book, Leo Africanus, and articles is the difference in view. I completely agree with what is said about the economist articles. On the other hand the first hand account of a personal life story mixed in with article readings describing the overall scheme of things. It's interesting to see both sides of history!