Turmoil in The Islamic World

..Massive protests cause turmoil for expat teachers
..throughout Islamic world:

“Fury over an anti-Islam film spread across the Muslim world last week. At least four people — all protesters — were killed and dozens were wounded in the demonstrations in more than 20 countries from the Middle East to Southeast Asia. Most were peaceful but they turned violent in several nations, presenting challenges for the leaders who came to power in the Arab Spring.

Protesters set fire to the American School adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the school in Tunis was badly damaged and is now ‘unusable.”

How are you, your family and school administration faring in these troubling times? Is your school sending teachers home or out of the country? How are local people, such as your home neighbors, reacting to you as a foreigner? What changes have become necessary for additional security? Is there some way we, your colleagues, can help? Please add your comments below.

34 thoughts on “Turmoil in The Islamic World

  1. There were not more than a couple of peaceful protest in Kuwait. However, over the last few weeks there has been several protest by as many as 100,000 people against the Emir of the country and some political decisions the government has made. These protest were not targeting expats but rather the Kuwait royal family. The police and national guard have kept them from getting out of hand. They have also been kept to one single area and have not spread outside of that area.


  2. From Alexandria, Egypt, we heard there were some rocks thrown at the American Consulate, but Egyptians have been very nice to us and many say “welcome.” No problems so far, and we have not restricted our travel or anything.


  3. I am the Director of a new school here in Tirana, Albania (Albanian International School) – directly across from the U.S Embassy in a nation with a 75% Muslim majority. Extra security around the Embassy, the U.S. flag there at half-staff. No protests at all. only flowers and candles placed in front of the Embassy by locals and endless condolences from Albanian politicians and even average citizens to the Embassy. And only about 1 mile away from George W. Bush Ave!


  4. Dear IRS and the World:

    I work at ACST in Tunisia and the US Embassy and our school was attacked last Friday, September 14, 2012 We are safe and all the children are safe. It was an attack by extreme Muslims, the Salifists, against two institutions, the US Embassy and ACST. When they could not get into the Embassy, the turned their anger on our school.

    We will reopen next week with high school students, then a week later elementary students. I do not feel unsafe in my neighborhood nor at school. We will survive this attack which totally destroyed K-2 building and our elementary library. We will rebuild, It is not a reflection on the wonderful and kind majority of Tunisians who have offered to help us rebuild. It is a reflection of political turmoil and control. You can help by donating to: http://www.acst.net.

    ACST Teacher


    1. Sadly this is the case all over the Middle East. A violent and vocal minority is screwing it up for the majority of the peace loving people here.


  5. I am teaching at an international school in Bahrain and it is business as usual like most have reported. The Bahrainis are very warm and inviting and there is absolutely no anti-western sentiment. There has not even been any talk of the film. Although I was at a small, local coffee shop and the Egyptian worker asked me about it. Luckily I know enough Arabic that I was able to condemn the film. To clarify, he wasn’t angry, just curious about my thoughts on it. I only wish I knew the Arabic word for “imbecile” or other adjectives to describe the filmmaker : ) Like others my problem comes more from Americans themselves back home who have never been to the Middle East yet feel qualified to condemn a whole region. To those in the international community (especially the Middle East) let’s continue educating our friends and family back home on how the people in this area really act (warm, caring, etc.)


  6. I live in Recife, Brazil we are a country with a high level of diversity of religions, nationalities and races, however everything and everyone lives in perfect harmony and great peace


  7. I am teaching in Khartoum, Sudan, and although it was definitely unsettling to see smoke rising from the vicinity of the American embassy last week, I have personally felt very safe. The Sudanese people are so welcoming and friendly, and our school community is incredibly supportive. No matter where I have lived overseas, I have found that if I give respect and friendship to others, that is what I get in return. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to spend my teaching career working in these fascinating places. I am also happy to hear that almost everyone is having positive experiences in their respective countries. Take care of yourselves and continue doing what you love!


  8. Our family is here in Khobar, Saudi Arabia which is right near the Causeway to Bahrain. Things here are as they always have been: Peaceful. We have been here 4 years and never encountered any anti-Western sentiment.


  9. Isn’t the title of this blog just as misleading as how the media reports “real” events? “Turmoil”? Yet, all of us actually living in these areas (with the exception of the response from Libya), have had no turmoil whatsoever.
    We are in Cairo and absolutely love it. No problems. We kept getting emails and calls constantly during the recent events, and whenever we would state that we were just fine…our friends and families back in the U.S. would act as if we were lying! It is amazing, and disheartening, that what we see on television or in print we take as complete truth.
    Here in Cairo, the only protest/riots/fights take place in Tahrir Square. The reality is simple: Don’t go there and you won’t be involved. I wouldn’t walk in certain places in downtown Miami & I don’t walk in certain places here:). We love international teaching and feel very lucky to have these chances.


  10. I’m at an international school in China. Although the world’s eyes are focussed on the Middle East, there are government sanctioned protests against the Japanese and Japanese businesses across china. While the lawlessness in places like Libya is frightening the situation in China possibly more sinister because it is initiated and managed by the government. A friend teaching in Guangzhou spent the day at home earlier this week as the school was closed because the threat of protests against Japanese interests.

    I understand that families and diplomats from the Philippines have also faced harrassment from Chinese officials.


  11. Muslims need to speak out against abuse and misinterpretation of own scriptures. the abuse of warmaking and terror creating by using Koran 9:14 needs to be stopped at the root, in the homes of good Muslims and in the mouths of good teachers.

    by one Non-Muslim Peacemaker Observer

    I came across a book left in my workplace sometime ago. It purportedly promoted Muhammed’s Humanity, however, in browsing part 3 of the work, the so-called author abused the Koran 9:14 in the same way that Osama bin Laden had in promoting and carrying out the massacres on 9-11. I have reviewed the internet and find many such abusive misinterpretations and obvious misreadings of Koran 9 that I think Muslims need to stand up and re appropriate their own scripture from terrorists.

    Here is one young Muslims response (without using much scripture but by using other sources, too).

    Despite the propaganda and hatespeech against islam and muslims, you don’t see muslim countries pre-emptively invading western lands on the pretext of “war on terror’ Why some people consider islam and muslims as terrorists? who set the World War I ? muslims? who set the World War II ? muslims? Who threw the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima? muslims? Who killed over 20 million of the native people of Australia? muslims? Who killed more than 100 million of the native americans (red indians) in North America? muslims? and killed more than 50 million others from South America? muslims? who took more than 180 million people from africa (as slaves) and 77% of them died on the way, and they buried in the Atlantic Ocean? muslims? and more and more and more” NO NOT MUSLIMS!!! People are brainwashed thinking Quran teaches violence and hate.

    Read BELOW

    Myth: Islam teaches suicide bombing and terrorism Fact: Islam prohibits killing others and suicide Quran 4:29 Myth: Kill all disbelievers Fact: Kill disbelievers only if you are attacked by them, but if they stop, you must stop Quran 2:190 2:191 2:192 Fact: Islam teaches to live with the disbelievers in peace Quran 8:61 43:88 43:89 Fact: You cannot force a woman into marriage in Islam Quran 4:19 Fact: Islam teaches to be kind to your enemies, unless you are attacked by them, then fight them Quran 41:34 Fact: You cannot force the religion on anyone Quran 2:256 You see the “violent” verses are only the verses of self defence, last time I checked self-defence was the law

    Source(s): Fastgrowing Islam winning converts in Western world http://articles.cnn.com/1997-04-14/world” rwanda muslims convert by LOADS http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/art” Islam is Fastest Growing Religion in United States: http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/a1” Thousands of young British women living in the UK decide to convert to Islam — here are some of their stories http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment” One in four is Muslim, study says http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8296200.stm http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct” Note: The references are taken from NON islamic sites to prevent any BIAS!


  12. I am a teacher at TLC International School in Nouakchott, Mauritania. There were some peaceful protests last week, but everything is business as usual. None of the staff has had any problems and most Mauritanians have been very open and kind as usual. Our admin staff has been great about meeting with the Embassy and keeping us informed. I feel very safe at school and in town.


  13. I am Iraq and everything is quiet here our American staff members have no difficulty, The Iraqis are curious about us and our school and seem generally pleased we are here and setting up a new (PYP) school


  14. I am newly arrived in Benghazi, Libya and the situation is very worrying. Libya is definitely very unsafe and absolutely not recommended. The school I am at underplayed the dangers, and presented a very false impression of the situation just to get staff here. Westerners are at high risk here. A short trip to get water from the store is hazardous. A soon as I can get an exit visa I am leaving.


    1. I beg to differ Nomad, I also arrived here in Tripoli in August and so far for me, it has been relatively safe. I am not a US, Canadian nor British national, so I don’t have a the security of a consulate nor embassy to turn to if I need to. I do admit that guns do fire off at night and it can sound very scary, but during the day it is very peaceful and calm with everyone going about their business. Even when the issues with the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi occurred it was still very much business as usual in Tripoli.

      My school did not give me any false impressions as my principal was very forthright about the situation here.I also did my own research and followed the news BEFORE coming here..so I knew what I as getting into.

      Please do not give people that false impression that ALL of Libya is unsafe and one gunshot away from war…it depends on location, how you carry yourself and how you deal with the locals. I have met other foreigners here, British, US, Canadian and they are all enjoying it here. Yes there are challenges as it is country undergoing a transition, but once you are aware of the context in which Libya is, then you can be more appreciative of the struggles it has to face. Be guided accordingly


  15. This is all so encouraging. There are extremists everywhere. Just check out the U.S. presidential campaigns going on. Nothing
    justifies the violence but it does help being here to better understand the extent of the anger and some of the real reasons for it. It’s not just the movie.


  16. All these comments just go to show how us international teachers are helping to encourage peace and realistic perspectives of high-profile situations throughout the world. I’m very encouraged to read (from those of you who’ve already commented) that you are coping well & not witnessing increased flare-up of emotions when it comes to this ridiculous movie. You’re presenting the truth. Thank you.
    Plenty of us in America, for example, only hear of deaths and hatred and rarely see or learn of the kind people everywhere who apologize for the fanatics or go out of their way to comfort foreigners or feel bad for atrocities happening in their hometowns. All of us, no matter where we come from, have things to apologize for when it comes to injustices, don’t we? Perhaps mankind will, someday, turn a blind eye to those who bully and hate, and turn their hearts to loving each other.
    Dreaming of that day as I continue to plan for my upcoming international teaching adventures. Thank you, teachers abroad, for bringing us the facts.


    1. Thanks for the well wishes, Michelle! I love where I am at in Egypt, and the conversations I have had with my students (many of whom are Muslims) have been honest and wonderful. It is such an interesting feeling to adore my young students while the media tells me they (Muslim) want to kill me (American)–Good luck to you!


  17. We are in Surabaya, Indonesia and we are very close to the US consulate where there are demonstrations planned this afternoon (Friday). We are not expecting any problems but due to our proximity to the consulate we are closing school this afternoon, just as a precaution. Always better to be safe than sorry!


  18. I am the principal of an international school in Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. KSA is probably the most controlled and therefore safest of the Muslim countries. We have experienced no sign of the turmoil either in the school or greater community, though I sense that most people here, being connected to the world, are aware of what’s happening and most likely have their feelings about it which they privately tend to. In that regard I feel it our deep responsibility, as Westerners, to demonstrate the best qualities of our culture(s) in living as guests in our host cultures, especially at this time if these are Muslim.

    It is my understanding that the Arab Spring is not just an outward development, but an inner shift of consciousness in humanity trying to emerge. The global village has become far too interconnected to permit entire segregated societies to live isolated within it, and in the process of integration the West, East, and Muslim worlds have much working out to do to find ways to coexist as close neighbors. In that context the current turmoil is clearly another iteration of this working out of things.


  19. I am a private English teacher (not in a formal school) in Bogota, Colombia. There are even fewer Muslims here than there are Gringos … so, there is nothing happening, and very little mention of the protests in the newspapers or on TV. I know this sounds ironic, but if you want a safe place to teach English, come to Bogota.


  20. My family is in Medan, Indonesia. The small US Consulate has closed due to protests, but it is business as usual at the international school. My family lives in a Muslim neighborhood and everyone in the neighborhood knows that we are American (we had to turn in a copy of our documents to the neighborhood chief); we have not experienced any negativity.


  21. I am the MS/HS music teacher at the American Cooperative School of Tunis. Just for clarification…while there was extensive damage to the school, including one building that will now be torn down and rebuilt due to fire damage, ACST is planning on re-opening next week. Most of the school, while vandalized and looted of many teaching resources (including all the band instruments), is certainly usable and will be once again a place of learning.

    Our community, from staff and teachers to students and parents, has worked together this week to relocate classrooms, clean equipment, and repair damage. For ISR readers who are wondering if they can help, an account has been set up for donations (go to acst.net for details).

    I can’t speak for everyone in our community but for me, I do not view our host country as inherently hostile. Most Tunisians are embarrassed by the events of last week and shocked that such violence against foreigners could possibly take place in their country. The road to democracy is bumpy; as Westerners, we know this but it is another thing to live through it. Balancing the right to free speech and expression with the security needs of society is one with which the Tunisian government is struggling.


    1. Good luck there! I am music teacher in another country. When my cello was stolen from my car, I went to the Police and reported it. Days later I found it at a music shop. As I had the Police report, the cello was taken from the music shop and I was able to bring it home. Didn’t you think about “searching” in town? I am sure that most of Tunisians are nice and they will help you. Trumpets, flutes and so on are not common around that area. They will try to sale the instruments. Hope I helped you a little bit. My best wishes for you. I am sure that you’ll have school band again before the end of academic year.



  22. i’m in tunis and it’s a horrific situation. we are on pins and needles waiting for the next move from the government as well as the administration. the school will have to be rebuilt. the destruction was devastating to the lower school and vandalism and looting took will cost about $5.5 million to replace. without the love and support of the staff and faculty, this would be a terrible place to be, but we are all supporting one another and hopeful…some more than others. it’s a tenuous situation. anti-western and anti-american sentiment is creeping quickly into many muslim countries, fueled by these crazy movie clips and cartoons that most have never even seen! what an excuse to pillage!! now we are waiting for what happens to the french embassies and schools around the world…

    if you want to donate or share this information amongst your schools, please go to our school website!


    there will be a place to make a donation online.



    1. I live in Jakarta, Indonesia and it is calm. Some protesting by the embassy but nothing like the media is showing from the cities around the Muslim world.


  23. I am here in Cairo, Egypt. The protests were across the river from me so I never saw any of it. I am happy to say though that local people are still as friendly as they were when I arrived 5 weeks ago. People on the street will just spontaneously say, “Welcome to Egypt” to me and my friend as we are walking around. I couldn’t ask for friendler, more helpful people. Some other teachers had an incident in which a taxi driver refused to take them when he found out they were American. He started yelling at them but others around them came to their defense and apologized for his behavior. That’s the one and only negative experience I’ve heard from anyone here. The anti-American sentiment does not seem to be one of the majority thank goodness.


    1. I’m also in Cairo and only the french school closed for one day. It’s the same for us, thus me and my wife are Canadians. People are mostly friendly and we have, so far, no problems with the every day routine. My school is far from the turmoil so it’s relatively safe for us.


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