Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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MIDDLE EAST: An Arab tribute to the King of Pop

June 26, 2009 |  1:58 pm


Middle East analyst and blogger Juan Cole of Informed Comment writes today about Michael Jackson’s popularity in the  Arab world. Jackson lived in Bahrain for a time after he was acquitted on child molestation charges in 2005. But he had a falling out with his benefactor, a son of the Persian Gulf island's emir.

Cole includes a link to a Middle Eastern video tribute to the King of Pop posted on YouTube. Although the comments suggest that a Jackson soundtrack may have been superimposed over a clip of men in traditional Arab robes dancing to music from the Gulf, Cole says “it is the height of hybridity either way.”

"Given the stereotyping of Gulf Arabs as medieval and fanatical, and given the hurtful prejudice against their very form of clothing in the West, it is only right that they should have the last word here on Michael Jackson's universal appeal."

Read Cole's post: Michael Jackson, Islam and the Middle East.

— Amber Smith in Los Angeles

Photo: Two Bahraini girls pass a poster of Michael Jackson at a store in Manama, Bahrain, on Friday, June 26, 2009. A store employee said Jackson's CDs sold briskly on word of the singer's death. Credit: Hasan Jamali / AP