Arabs fall short of Olympic medals, along with Israel, Turkey and Iran
By Ray Hanania
As the final day of the Sochi 2014 Olympics arrives (Sunday Feb. 23, 2014) and as the two weeks of athletic competition comes to an end, unfortunately athletic contenders from the only two Arab countries that entered the Olympics, Morocco and Lebanon, failed to finish with any Olympic medals.
Jacky Chamoun, the Alpine Skier whose topless photograph session for an Austrian calendar featuring Olympic contenders, came in 47th in slalom competition. A total of 88 countries fielded athletes in the competition that began Feb. 7th in Sochi in Russia, but only two of the Arab World’s 22 nations entered athletes. Lebanon is represented by Jacky Chamoun, 22, from Deir el Kamar, and Alexandre Mohbat, 18, from Beirut. Morocco is represented by American and Canadian Arabs Adam Lamhamedi, 18, originally born in Montreal, Canada, and Kenza Tazi, 18, was born in Boston, Massachusetts.
Unlike many int he Arab World who criticized Jacky Chamoun, I feel that the Arab World needs to put the conservative fanatics in check and allow people the freedom to express themselves in ways that do not physically hurt other people or deny others their own freedoms. Ironically, the Arab World is overwhelmed with violence, racism, religious discrimination and hatred, and a woman who wishes to express herself in an artistic manner is condemned louder than Arabs condemn murder, killing and violence including suicide bombings.
The 2012 Summer Olympics two years ago represented the 100th anniversary of the first Arab athletes to compete and drew entrants from 17 Arab countries. The summer Olympics ostensibly offer games Arab athletes from the steamy hot Mediterranean climate can better compete and train. Ironically, though, the Olympics began across the Mediterranean in Greece. This year, Greece also did not win any medals. Neither did the Arab neighbors of Israel, which fielded five athletes, or Turkey, which fielded six athletes. Iran entered five athletes.
Click here to view the list of country medal winners.
For many Arab nations which have come under growing religious fanaticism and fundamentalism, participation in activities denounced as “Western imperialism” like the Olympics and holidays including Christmas, Valentine’s Day and even Halloween have been frowned upon. Ironically, although the Arab World continues to have a strong and influential secular presence, the religious extremists are able to bully and intimidate them. Oftentimes, secularists are targeted with violence, such as the Hezbollah inspired terrorism against the Muslim-Christian alliance in Lebanon.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world watch the Olympics, an opportunity for the Arab World to push down the violence and hatred of the extremists that the Arab World continues to miss.
Click to read my column on wishing Arabs would take the Olympics more seriously.
Click to read my column on the failure of Arabs to be like everyone else in the Saudi Gazette Newspaper.
One day the Arab World will free itself from oppression and dictators and tyrants. But before they can do that, they need to free themselves from the oppression of the religious fanatics and political extremists who embrace violence as a lifestyle that has destroyed everything from Palestine to Egypt.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He is managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com.)