20 februari 2006

Intercultural communication in Iraq

Though the Intercultural Communication course has been finished, I’ve decided to keep on posting on intercultural matters from time to time. We are living in thrilling times, when it comes to intercultural communication. This has been made clear over and over again (cf. the last few weeks) and it hit me again this morning when I heard an interview with an Iraqi on the Flemish radio.

In plain English the man was talking about the introduction of democracy in Iraq. He was truly disappointed in the way Westerners (and most of all: Americans) had introduced the (Western) democratic principles in Iraq. Iraq, a former leading country in the Middle East, was sentenced to a secondary role, according to the interviewee. Especially over the last few years (since the breakdown of Saddam’s ancient rĂ©gime) the position of Iraq has been weakened, due to Western (American) interference, the man said.

This is all a matter of intercultural differences, he added. He gave a brilliant example to illustrate the differences in communication between Western and Iraqi people: “If I would tell you that you have a beautiful wife, you will probably take it as a compliment. If you would tell me that I have a beautiful wife, I will feel offended and start fighting.”