Down East Seniors learn about the Middle East

Published 3:16 pm Friday, October 6, 2017

The Down East Seniors Club held its Oct. 4 meeting at the Blind Center of North Carolina in Washington. President Stewart Rumley led the meeting. Bill Cheshire led the singing of “God Bless America,” and Charles Smith gave the invocation. Ed Hamrick read factoids for the date in history, and Dick Paul provided humor.

Rumley announced that member Len Huber and former member Ward Grosz have passed away.

Program Chairman Bob Diefendorf introduced member Gene Schwartz, who presented some interesting information about the Middle East. After Schwartz retired from the Air Force, he worked as a consultant to the Saudi Arabian Air Force for nine years. He said in the Middle East, government and religion are closely entwined. Since the dominant religion of the area is Islam, one has to be a Muslim to gain any status in government or business. Muhammad was the founder of Islam. Today Sunni Muslims (about 85 percent of all Muslims) believe that Muhammad was succeeded by his father-in-law. Shia Muslims (the remaining 15 percent) believe he was succeeded by his son-in-law. In the 15th century, Muslims conquered much of the Middle East, Spain and Turkey and built most of the mosques that are still in use today. Many Islamic countries use Sharia law (derived from the Islamic holy book the Quran) to set criminal, civil, personal and economic rules of conduct that must be observed. The government in most of these countries is either a monarchy or a constitutional monarchy, although some are moving towards democracy. Women in these countries have very limited rights and privileges.

Diefendorf won the 50/50 drawing.