Sunday, February 15, 2004

Foreigners, Justice and Us

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi,

Now and then we get a shock that makes us realize we are not the noble society we claim to be. Supposedly we are hospitable Arabs as well as kind and tolerant Muslims. Sometimes, however, we fail the tests of love, justice and goodness.

Otherwise, how can you explain the way some of us treat our guests? Is it fair that we invite them in to work for us then act surprised when they show up? Or is it fair to agree with them on the amount of their salaries — always less than ours — and then criticize them when they send some of the salary to their families back home? Or is it fair that some of us accuse them of stealing the very jobs we hired them to do?

Not when we know full well that they either work in positions we don’t want or do highly sophisticated jobs that we never bothered to train our children for.

How can we be surprised at how much money they transfer home, knowing that we don’t provide them with investment possibilities? What can an expatriate do with his/her money if we don’t allow them to bring in their families, own a home, invest in the country or set up any kind of business?

Besides, how much do “we” transfer abroad every year? Isn’t what we spend on a summer holiday abroad alone equal to, or greater than, what our guests transfer in a year?

Don’t our rich stash more than a few billion dollars every year in foreign banks? Why do we criticize our guests for sending money to their families at home, and never say a word about those of us who invest their billions abroad? Not that I blame them since most of our investment laws treat investors as badly as we treat our guests.

It seems foreigners have increasingly become scapegoats for our mistakes, shortcomings and the most convenient explanation for our failures in dealing with problems and challenges. The result of it all will surely be that our problems multiply until even with ourselves, no further excuses are possible and we run out of them.

As with God, lies won’t work, and His anger if we don’t change will include all of us.

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