Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

SFS-Qatar Flyers Unwelcoming, Disrespectful

To the Editor:

Students from the Qatar campus of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service were in town this week to share their experiences with students at Georgetown’s main campus. It was an excellent opportunity for cross-cultural communication: Qatar campus students are graduates of English-language schools ranging from Egypt to Bosnia, and they have unique perspectives on world affairs.

Those in charge of promoting the students’ visit generally kept their announcements friendly and welcoming: Individual photos of Qatar campus students were pinned to the walls outside ICC, and “Welcome Georgetown Qatar Students” was chalked in Arabic in Red Square.

But one advertisement was decidedly tacky and unwelcoming. Invitations distributed to departments throughout the ICC carried a large, imposing photograph of a grinning camel above the event’s details. It was well-intentioned, but also a mockery of the state-of-the-art program built for Georgetown in Qatar’s Education City.

The students’ visit was intended to strengthen the relationship between the two campuses. It was a step backward to represent Qatar’s students and their school with such a tired, irrelevant image. More respect and creativity were in order.

Nora Achrati (GRD ’06)

March 20, 2006

To the Editor:

I am writing to THE HOYA to express my disgust about the racist flyers that promoted the SFS-Qatar event on March 21. This advertisement featured a large picture of a camel’s head; for some reason the people who made the flyer did not think that using camels to advertise for events related to the Arab world would be offensive.

This portrayal advances the idea that the Arab world is somehow intrinsically linked to the camel. Apart from being incorrect, the stereotype that all Arabs ride, own or identify with camels is also a tool of prejudice. In the eyes of many on this campus, the flyer may have been alluding to the other terms that generally follow the derogatory use of “camel jockey,” such as “dune-coon,”rag-head,” or “sand-nigger.”

Perhaps the offensiveness of this flyer is better articulated through analogy. Would it be appropriate to feature pictures of cows for an academic event associated with Hindus? Would a masked medicine man be appropriate for an African-related university event? I do not mean to offend here; I am merely trying to demonstrate my point. After all, the SFS-Q event was an academic occasion.

Should the SFS showcase its so-called cosmopolitan understanding by using antiquated stereotypes to advertise scholastic events? I am confident that the Qatari royal family, which is financing the SFS-Qatar campus, would not be pleased to hear that their so-called “academic” investment is portraying them by using camels’ faces.

Those responsible for this offensive flyer should issue a formal apology to the many that have been offended. The people in charge of promoting events for the SFS should work seriously to prevent such overt narrow-mindedness from permeating into their advertising material.

Karim Al-Awar Smither (COL ’06)

Former President of the Georgetown Arabic Club

March 20, 2006

Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya