Differences Between Arab and American Culture
Arab vs American Culture
The differences between Arab and American culture are both staggering and yet negligible. Both countries are deeply political, and throughout both countries’ histories are deeply committed to their spiritual, moral, and social standards. But the similarities could not go deeper – origins, religion, and cultural backgrounds are the main reasons that both cultures could never agree on key points and have been a source of chronic conflict through the history of the world.
While America is originally founded by Christianity (Puritans from the United Kingdom), the Arab countries, on the other hand, embrace Islam since the 600 AD. This religious difference is one of the major contributors of sporadic clashes that are often mistaken as “political” in nature. Since Arab nations make sure that the state religion is kept, the American culture fights for the individual’s faith, the freedom to choose what religion he or she thinks would be best for him or her. This has been one of the flashpoints between both cultures. The American eagerness to “free” the Arab press is one good example of the widening gap between both cultures. While Islam preaches one God, the majority of those who embrace Christianity believe in a God represented by the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Arab language and the American language are both regional languages. The English language is seen to be the default Western language, while the Arabic language is seen as an Eastern language that has its roots in the Aramaic and Hebrew languages. The Arab language, however, is not just a regional language but also a religious language as well that is closely attached to Islam. Countries that are predominantly Muslim speak and write Arabic with schools teaching the language extensively. The English language (American), has its influence tied to global commerce making it the default international language. The glaring differences are also stressed on how these languages are perceived by the other – often creating animosity and clashes on socio-political, economic, and religious issues.
English literature has a long history and has been seen as the foundational platform of the existing world literature. The Arab literature, however, is more localized and, again, spread around by the Arab religion – Islam. Although the Arab culture existed before the creation of Islam, Islam successfully overpowered previously written literature and replaced it with excerpts from the Qur’an and other Islamic texts and derived poetry.
The socio-political climate of both the American and Arab cultures dictates the activities of their respective media. This is one of the clearest differences between the Arab and American cultures. American media is freer but can also be severely unregulated, causing legal debacles from claims and counterclaims of published reports. Some call this the curse of democracy to American media. This often leads to the conflict of privacy, personal interests, and national security. The Arab media, on the other hand, is burdened by the responsibility to support the existing regime – oftentimes dictated by Islamic clerics. This often leads to severe regulation and censorship. Worse yet, it is also prone to manipulation and propaganda. Although these issues are as real in the American media, it is often downplayed by the fact that freedom of the press is alive and well in the American culture.
Terrorism has been an ongoing battle and a key part of defining the differences between Arab and American cultures. “Terrorism” in both cultures has different meanings. American interference in Arab affairs within Arab lands (the Jewish issue) has been hailed as terrorism by the Arab nations. Suicide bombings and Islamic insurgencies are terrorism for the American public. These terror “acts” from both cultures also have different motivations. The American side see it as a socio-economic pursuit to establish a presence in the Arab region, while the Arab side see it as expressing their sovereignty – socially, politically, and spiritually through the integration of the Islamic reasoning for the attacks (often attributed to Islamic extremism).
American culture promotes individual faith while Arab culture often embraces Islam.
American culture utilizes English while the Arab culture makes use of the Arabic language.
American literature serves as one of the major foundations of world literature while Arabic literature is more localized and is mostly based on Islam.
American media has more freedom than Arab media.
Both the Arabs and Americans have various views regarding terrorism. Arabs see it as a way to express their sovereignty while Americans see it as a socio-economic pursuit.
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