Views from the Middle East on the Eve of Election Day

The interest in U.S. elections pouring out of the Middle East will come as no surprise to regular blog readers; this region, one of the fastest-growing in the blogosphere, is notable for its bloggers interest in foreign affairs. Today, we take a look at a Jordanian discussing the “Five Friends” campaign, a Syrian postman's election pick, a Jordanian election nightmare, and the Obamaization of History.

Jordanian Naseem Tarawneh talks about the Five Friends campaign led by Hollywood celebrities to encourage young people in the U.S to vote in the elections. He writes:

I’m still loving the whole cultural element that has emerged from this election. The “Five Friends” campaign is a pretty interesting usage of Hollywood star power to encourage Americans to vote. It’s kind of ironic that in a democratic country you need the likes of Will Smith and Tom Cruise to give you a reason to vote, while a whole lot of people in the world are still waiting for the day they get to cast their vote in an actual free election (Jordan included). In any case, I thought the video was pretty cool, putting aside how effective celebrity endorsements and activism is or isn’t. What I thought was especially noteworthy, from a techie point of view, is the usage of YouTube and Google Maps in the US elections. Just a few years ago, who would’ve thunk it?

Here are two of the videos from the campaign:

The blogger continues on the subject here.

Orientalista, an American living in Syria, brings up a conversation she had with a man working at the post office in Damascus, when she went to cast her absentee ballot:

The ballot has to be in by the election, so the regular mail was out (usually takes three weeks). I paid 1000 lira for it to be in American in four days. The guy at the post office asked if it was for the election.
“Did you pick McCain or Obama?”
“Obama, of course!”

He smiled and then asked, “He's the black one right?”
“But aren't you worried he might do things against the whites?”
“No.” I laughed. Like do what? “His policy is better than McCain's. He might work for better relations with Syria.”
“But you are white. You don't know what some one will do once they get power…”
“He will be better than Bush and that's what's important.”

I mean, what do you say to that?

More from Orientalista, here.

Jordanian Moi had a dream he was voting. He writes:

Last night in my dream, I went to the polls, very excited, casted my ballot and went home proud of myself. Then, to my surprise, I received an email when I got home “confirming” my vote for, none other than, a third party candidate! Apparently, I had voted for Bob Barr! I panicked, couldn’t believe that I mistakenly voted for Bob Barr– maybe I was confused between Barack and Bob?! I ran back to the polling place, and begged the elections officer to let me “correct” my vote. And the nice guy let me. Phew, that was a close one!

A couple weeks before that, my nightmare was worse. It was November 5th, and I had fallen asleep the night before while watching the election returns, not yet knowing who had won. Shock and awe. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t fathom. I heard Palin’s voice on TV, and I heard cheering. I saw McCain on the screen, smiling gleefully with the blonde gushing next to him.

And Ammar, from Jordan, talks about the “Obamaization of History” :

This is the point of view of a non American observer of American politics, and there sure is alot to see these days, but what makes this election special; both for Americans and non Americans is the possibilities it promises, those remain promises and are not in any way certainties, but with a man with so many complications; his father was a Muslim Kenyan , his mother was a white christian American, he has a Muslim middle name but he himself is a christian, he was accused of having attending a Madrasa or a Muslim religious school when he lived with his mother and step-father in Indonesia, despite the fact that the term Madrasa in the religious aspect of the word has a mental reference to the extremist schools in Afghanistan, and not the mainstream modern Islamic societies, and as a result, his patriotism was, and is questioned like no one's patriotism was ever questioned before, and still, he's the strongest contender to the presidency.

I hope Obama wins, for the sake of Ambition, and all that it stands for, The Ambition of people all around the world, and certainly my own, although I have nothing to do with US politics, but the election of Obama would have a domino effect, or a butterfly effect for the sake of a softer portrayal, I hope he wins, not because I think he's the awaited Messiah as the cynics on the opposite side of the fence describe his campaign, or because I think he'll achieve what the previous 20 presidents failed..or overlooked, but because he represents Ambition, the triumph of hard work, and the overcoming of all the odds.

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