Monday, December 04, 2006

The Arabs of Brazil   posted by Razib @ 12/04/2006 07:17:00 PM

Today I read an article in Slate which noted, '"Nasrallah's ultimate goal for Hezbollah, many in Lebanon believe, is the Iran model. They know it cannot be implemented right now, but, in the long run, "if Christians keep leaving the country in big numbers, as they are doing now, well, it might happen," one Lebanese gloomily told me.' First, no one seems to think that Shia form more than 40% of Lebanon's population, and the marginal and dispossessed proportion at that. In contrast, in Iran Shia form 90% of the population, and the Sunni groups like the Kurds and the Balouch have never been that vigorously part of national life in comparison to the Shia groups. So Nasrallah's dreaming, though certainly one-man-one-vote would be good for the Shia and will be when in comes. That being said, I was intrigued by the idea of Christians leaving Lebanon. I have known many Lebanese Christians in my time. When I was younger my best friend was part Lebanese Christian, and I socialized with their family quite a bit. Good people and all that. But I wonder, might it not be good for Lebanese Christians to go live somewhere else? It isn't like they aren't succeeding, and the Middle East is just kind of nutso. I was checking out the Wikipedia article on Lebanon when I noted this: "The number of those inhabiting Lebanon proper was estimated at 3,874,050 in July 2006...There are approximately 16 million people of Lebanese descent, spread all over the world, Brazil being the country with the biggest Lebanese community abroad." Wow! This isn't as extreme as the Irish or the Scottish, but the imbalance between the small "homeland" community vs. the Diaspora is enormous. Some of these of course will be part Lebanese, but the size of the Overseas community is impressive. Of course on second thought this makes sense, there are millions of Arab Americans, the vast majority of whom trace their ancestry to greater Syria-Lebanon. But what about Brazil? Well, here are two articles on the Arabs of Brazil. The numbers I'm seeing for Lebanese Brazilians seem to range between 5 and 10 million out of 188 million Brazilians! If you add other Arabs the number of "Turcos" in Brazil is even greater. I'm having a hard time believing that there are so many Arabs in Brazil, haven't been able to find a good Census of this community for Brazil (they don't look that different from southern European whites obviously, and seem assimilated and successful), but if the data is wrong it is repeated on many websites. I'd be interested in the input/data from Brazilian readers. In my research I uncovered the woman to your left, she, 1/2 Japanese 1/4 Lebanese & 1/4 Swiss. Here's some stuff from Wikipedia that I found interesting....

* Abdala Bucaram (Lebanese origin), former President of Ecuador
* Alberto Dahik (Lebanese origin), former Vice President of Ecuador
* Antonio Saca (Palestinian origin), current President of El Salvador
* Jamil Mahuad (Lebanese origin), former President of Ecuador
* Carlos Menem (Syrian origin), former President of Argentina (a convert from Islam to Catholicism)
* Said Musa (Palestinian origin), current Prime Minister of Belize
* Julio Cesar Turbay (Lebanese origin), former President of Colombia