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A new Epimenides

Reader comment on item: Middle Eastern Political Candor

Submitted by Archimedes2 (Canada), Apr 7, 2008 at 17:01

This is a classic restatement of the Epimenides Paradox: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epimenides_paradox

If Hassan is intentionally adapting this famous paradox, kudos for him -- a literate man and a self-deprecating wit. If not, then he has unwittingly deprecated himself.

A few footnotes: 1. For centuries Crete was a possession of the Byzantine Empire.

2. On the other hand, what exactly does the Hashemite prince mean by "We come from a Byzantine civilization"? Does he identify historically more closely with the historical (Christian) Byzantine Empire or its nemesis the historical (Islamic) Ottoman Empire? Is his statement a slur against his Arab and persian comrades, or is the "we" ironic, making the statement a crypto-slur against the integrity of Christian leaders of the region? Is it a declaration that falsehoods by Arab leaders are the fault of the Byzantine Christians they conquered, who, 550 years after annihilation, are still wielding its evil Christian influence on the good, honest muslims?

3. Whatever his actual intention, this does not look like a slip of the tongue. It is precisely what he had planned to say, and I'm sure he had considered at length exactly how it should be worded.

4. It must also be noted, since his statements contain multi-layered references to ancient history, that the family from which he hails regards themselves as having a direct line of descent from Mohammed. Thus, I expect the surface layer of this statement is intentionally ironic, and not intended as deprecative of muslim Arabs.

5. With all of the above in mind it should also be noted that Bin Talal has an established reputation as a moderate, and while not an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, an outspoken opponent of Arab agitators for military action Israel. It's probably worth taking his statement in good faith and with a dose of good humor.

Submitting....

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