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“Hell is Other People”

By Omar Bihmidine

Morocco World News

Sidi Ifni, September 24, 2012

“Hell is other people,” philosopher Jean Paul Sartre once wrote. Nowadays, with the seemingly endless, turbulent era in which we are living, we must already conclude either to our dismay or not that Sartre’s statement actually holds true in a number of respects. The philosophical statement, albeit multi-layered, manifests itself fully in our lives, ranging from the denigrating way in which the West holds us to the everyday mundane practices such as the purchase of high-quality vegetables at a larger-than-life supermarket.

Some biased Westerners have produced anti-Islam films and denigrating caricatures about our prophet Mohamed for the simple reason that we Muslims are looked upon as hell to them. If we were paradise to other people, they would not have poked fun at us whatsoever. In our turn, many of us hate America and its allies simply because it has always been considered in our minds as hell. Deeming other people as hell, therefore, seems to never end. Oddly speaking, we may even go on further than this and consider our frequent guests as hell just because their very arrival can cost us both money and trouble.

Regarding the excessive bloodshed brought about by the Syrian regime, many Muslims across the Muslim world continue to taunt and threaten with death Syrian president Bachar Al Assad for the thousand of innocents lives claimed by his decisions. Opponents of his dictatorial, inhumane regime cannot help but deem Bachar as their hell, particularly because of the calamity, misery, devastation, seemingly endless wars and slaughtering he has brought Syria.

During their sleep, Syrian children have nightmares about this Syrian criminal, and sooner or later they will grow up with the idea of considering Bachar and his likes as hell on earth. Logically, mothers, for instance, consider whoever attacks their children as hell. This is why many mothers have grown obsessed with the thought that other people may at any time cause harm to their apples of eye.

On the other hand, staunch supporters of the Syrian regime, including Hizbo Allah and Iran, look upon free Syrian pro-democracy protesters as hell in that the former see the latter as a threat to the Syrian regime’s stability. In other words, the supporters of dictatorial Syrian president Bachar will cease to be powerful if the regime on which they have lived for decades falls down. So, it all depends on who the hell is in every situation we encounter.

As soon as we conceive of others as hell in our minds, we will no longer take into account whether or not others are our brothers, sisters, Muslims or fellow compatriots. By human nature, we do our utmost to abolish hell at any rate, and this has been the case all over the world. As we know, no one can escape this encounter with hell and the relentless fight against it.

Among the reason why the West can never live in peace with the East is that each considers the other as hell. Iraqis, for instance, consider America as hell after being invaded by it. America in its turn has deemed Iraq as hell, particularly when the late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein challenged America, and this powerful country thought only of overthrowing him to get rid of this hell Americans have formed in their minds.

In the same vein, we Moroccans, the intelligentsia in particular, have denounced our hell which is Spain for the countless injustices it did Morocco during Spanish colonization. Since then, many Spanish people have hated Moroccans for no convincing reason other than that Morocco was conceived as hell that must be tarnished all over Spain. For Moroccans, hell is Spain, and for the Spanish, hell is Morocco. All this brings us back to the fact that hell is other people.

Now, away from politics, we find that Sartre’s statement manifests itself in our simplest, everyday acts. As Muslims, think of Slaughtering Feast, Eid Al Adha, when some of us spend more than we can afford to buy a fatter ram than that of our neighbors for the simple reason that we need to impress others. Rather, we feel compelled to impress others, and in this way, others are hell.

But for them, we would not bother ourselves with buying a very fat ram. In the same light, when we happen to buy a ‘modest’ ram on the holy occasion, some neighbors talk behind our backs and even make fun of the ram. For us, neighbors are also hell to us. Haven’t we heard of many couples who had a row just because the husband bought a frail ram? Even couples are hell to each other.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

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