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Agence Future Logo 4.1: Overview - The research in the middle east


Our  'break boys' in Damascus inerviewing the grand mufti of Syria


D
uring these four and a half months the research continued in sometimes difficult circumstances. Nevertheless we talked with more than 35 people.

We were able to find an interpreter in Istanbul who made it possible to interview several people who did not speak any of the European languages that we understand. On the other hand we did not manage to do the same during our stay in Capadocia and Maya's knee injury meant we were unable to work in any other rural areas of Turkey. In Syria respondents were the most reluctant to speak that we have come across so far but we managed to conduct several successful interviews with a suitable range of respondents (some of which with the help from a Belgian student of Arabic languages). Because we had not planned to travel though Iran and Pakistan we did not prepare for work here, so the small number of people we talked with there was no more than a bonus.

We found some important changes in comparison to previous legs of the fieldtrip as far as the topics covered during the interviews are concerned. Frequently issues following the events of 11th of September came into the conversations. Also, while viewpoints based on religion had already been important in West Africa (they had been almost completely absent in Europe), we found that the amount of discussion of religion increased greatly again. In Syria we could almost speak of a 'religion overdose'.

Esfehan

We had conversations with a total of 10 specialist respondents and no less than 25 members of the general population.

The first group consisted amongst others of: Mihaly Simai, a Hungarian economist involved in Future Studies, the Imam of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Zya Onis, a Turkish political economist, a leading seismologist of the Marmara research Institute, Sheikh Kiftaro, the Grand Mufti of Syria, a Syrian attorney specialised in women's issues and a Pakistani researcher into the social consequences of drought.

The second group of respondents was as varied: we spoke with housewives in Istanbul, with young entrepreneurs in the same city, with devout Muslims and their teachers as well as with a young musician and a top ranking doctor and Syrian youth involved in such subversive activities as break dancing as well as shopkeepers in an old part of Damascus.

Najet, our lovely host in Damascus We started out with far too much kit but were able to send some back. On the road we enjoyed the hospitality and support of many people whom we are grateful now to consider part of our network.

Our biggest logistical problem on this leg of the trip was Maya's physical health. From the very beginning she suffered bad knee-pains and when we left Istanbul she sustained a relatively serious injury. She had to recover from this for more than a month and even after some successful days riding since, we are still unsure of the final outcome of this issue.
We produced a series of illustrated articles on the basis of our visit to Istanbul but have -despite promises to the contrary from Belgium- so far been unable to publish them. Hopefully this will be solved in Dehli during our round up of this section of our journey.

 
Read more on Agence Future's adventures in the middle east:

Index | 4.2: Budapest >>

 

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Last changed: May 20, 2012