Just a note on something I observed while in Cyprus, if this offends you, too bad.
There’s a huge difference between the people in Lebanon and in Cyprus. While Cypriots seemed to be much friendlier, happier, and open to us, as foreigners, than the typical Beiruti, it was almost a surprise how blatantly racist they could be in just a typical conversation with strangers. They were prideful of their country and loved it more than anything to the point of ignorance and dislike of anything different. Now I’m not Lebanese and I’ve only been here for a few months (and will be here for a couple more), so I can’t make any comment on how Lebanese people as a whole think about their country and the rest of the world privately, but I have never heard someone express racism openly here. The comments from a man we asked for directions during lunch in Limassol, after he verified our ethnicities of course, caught us all off-guard when he told us about the superiority of Christian Cypriots versus “those Arabs” in Lebanon. A couple more off-hand comments thrown out by other strangers old proved to reinforce this impression. I wonder if it has always been like this or if this mindset is something fairly new, resulting from the conflict between the Greeks and the Turks.
Cyprus is an interesting case of east meets west. Thanks to being a British colony and being one of the favorite vacation destinations of the British, young and old, it is very advanced and Western on the surface. But take some time to talk to the people, figure out how things work, and notice the little inconveniences and hassles that make up people’s everyday lives and you can see influences from neighbors in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Head to the northern side of the island and you’ll feel like you’re in Turkey.
The prevalence of racism, and the parties involved, is something I tend to notice in most places I get to know. I think it happens everywhere, whether people like to admit it or not, and comes in many forms, some more harmful than others. It’s something we can all do without, though it’s likely the day that racism in any form ceases to exist will never come to pass. Same for religion-based superiority. But that’s another story altogether…