By Courtney Burge, MPIA 2013

The past couple of weeks have certainly kept everyone on their toes here in Qatar. We heard about the attacks before most of you were awake, but we did not know an ambassador had been killed until much later. The reaction to these attacks has been most profound for the Americans, obviously, but everyone I have talked to here – Egyptian, Yemeni, Qatari, etc. – has been upset and confused. The Arabs were upset and felt bad for our country, but they almost seemed unfazed at the actual event. My Yemeni friend showed me pictures of the body of one of the bodyguards in the attempted assassination of his defense minister. The graphic, crispy body of this innocent man was blasted all over Facebook in Yemen; nothing was censored. Something I did not realize until this morning was how protected we are in America. As someone put it, our news is sanitized. We get so upset at North Korea and China and Russia for not allowing free speech and censorship of media, but we do it, too, and we don’t even realize it. You don’t find pictures of burning bodies, slaughtered Syrian kids or bomb victims on Facebook in America. For better or for worse, that’s just how it is.

Amidst all this violence, Doha is an island of peace. The Qataris, Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Americans and British… all of us get along with each other here. There are obviously political differences that get people all in a tizzy, but my point is that I don’t see violence here. People here are respectful of religion and political thought insofar as they will not rise up against you because of what you believe. I have found several Christians to hang out with and form fellowship with here. On the flip side, I have met hundreds of Arab Muslims who are just as interested in American culture and my faith as I am in theirs. They are eager to teach me their dialect of Arabic and what the true doctrine of Islam is. They refuse to label themselves with the radicals and do not mention them when talking about the different beliefs within Islam. The daily sunset call to prayer is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.

It’s funny/sad that people freak out when they hear I’m in the Middle East because they lump the entire region together as an unstable environment for anyone to live in. If people would just do their part and go further than watching CNN or Fox News, they would see that the Middle East is as much a melting pot as our United States. We work together – despite the differences – to ensure the survival of our community.