Special Dispatch - Reform in the Arab & Muslim World
August 12, 2003
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Liberal Arab Columnist:
'Why do Arabs Hate the West, Especially the U.S.?'
In an article titled "Why Do Arabs Hate the West, Especially the U.S.," Zuheir Abdallah, columnist for the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat, blames Arab fascism and Islamism for failing to achieve any accomplishments for the Arab world since 1948, leading to its backwardness today. The following are excerpts from the article:(1)
Arabs Should Remember They Invaded and Occupied Europe Before The Crusades
"Most Arabs hate the West, especially the U.S., for many reasons; some date back to the Crusades and the Andalusia period, and more recently, because of Palestine and Iraq. I don't intend to delve into this historical turmoil, but for the sake of history, the Arabs should remember that they invaded and occupied important parts of Europe hundreds of years before the Crusades wars.
"The West and the U.S. in particular, as a result of their growing financial and moral power since the 1950s, and just like any human force, dominates and colonizes... just like them the Assyrians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Persians, the Arabs, the Tatars, the Ottomans and others did before them... But since the 1950s, both the dominating and dominated initiated an attempt to build a new world, where competition (which is part of human nature) gradually moved from the battlefields to the realm of creation, economy and trade. Sciences and inventions developed as never before, especially in the fields of space, communications and medicine, which led to the invention of computers, the Internet and satellites, and many medicines and antibiotics were discovered, overcoming many diseases and increasing humans' life expectancy. In general, the world went on a stable path of progress, as trade prospered (with the elimination of tariffs and the speed in transportation)."
Since 1948 The Arab World Has Regressed
"But despite this, the Arab world failed to ride the same wagon (except for the consumption part), ever since the Palestinian Nakba in 1948. Since then, under the pretext of liberating Palestine and destroying the occupation's agents, most Arab countries were taken over by not so intelligent and more tyrannical people (mostly from the military). Thus, the economic and scientific growth regressed and reached the bottom level, in comparison to the rest of the countries in the world (according to the last report of the UN)."
Arab Fascism and Fundamentalist Islam Have Nothing to Offer People
"Since 1948, the primitive Arab fascism was given free reign, and boosted by the backwards soldiers, from the officers to reactionary parties (sometimes self-dubbed progressive), and other times allied with fundamentalist Islam. It has nothing to offer to its people except empty slogans revolving around the themes of resistance and struggle, for no voice can be louder than that of the fight, and consequently, corruption spread, and this Arab fascism was constantly being defeated in its Don-Quixote-like-battles with any foreign force (except its people, as it always vanquished them).
"All around the world, extremist slogans and concepts are falling one after the other; but in the Arab world, they have reached such a level that many simple-minded people and ignorant persons were unfortunately brainwashed and turned into the fuel of this extremism. When discussing with many Arab citizens, even those claiming to be educated, about the reason for our backwardness, you get a preset answer to the effect that the West with the U.S. in particular are stopping the Arabs from progressing. If this hypothesis is true, then why did certain Arab and Islamic countries, such as Malaysia and Dubai [sic], manage to achieve progress (even if partially)?"
Arabs Reject Western Inventions, Only to Embrace them Later
"The West and the U.S. in particular achieved major accomplishments over the past century. As for us, Arabs and Muslims, we became at most consumers of these accomplishments and inventions; we reject them at first claiming they are designed to control us, then consume them fast and even hide it most of the time. The examples are many:
* The invention of radio transmission, then television then satellite channels, then electronic communications devices. Most Arabs misused these means, and used them as channels for religious extremism, political provocation, and transmission of erroneous information. The young generation spends long hours on the Internet to view pornographic pictures, mainly in the highly conservative societies, which foster frustration. Before the modern communication means (visual and audio), we had enlightened religious scholars such as Mohamad Abdu and Jamaleddine Al Afghani. After the confusion resulting from these means, we have Sheikhs like bin Laden, Al Dhawahiri and many others we watch and hear on the Arab satellite channels.
* The weapons were highly and unusually developed during the last century. From 1948 to this day, arms purchases in the Middle East occupied the first place among the countries in the world and reached between 1995 and 1997, about 38% from world purchases in comparison to 3% in South America, according to the U.S. State Department's report: "Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 1998." Most of these purchases were made under the pretext of liberating Palestine and fighting the enemies. They were either used against the people or during the civil wars or to attack neighboring countries. As for Israel, it remains the most powerful in terms of arms.
* In the medical field, penicillin and antibiotics were discovered, which saved millions and billions of human lives from fatal diseases as typhoid and many children diseases. As a result, there was a disorder in the demographic balance of many developing countries, especially in the Arab countries, as birth rates considerably grew (sometimes encouraged by ignorant rulers), combined with a decrease in death rates, especially infantile. As a result, the yearly demographic increase varied between 3 and 5%, which means that the census in some Arab countries doubled every 16 years. Social, political and environmental problems ensued and governments and people couldn't confront them.
"These are few of the examples on the inventions and discoveries of the last centuries and how they were misused in the Arab world. Let us stop for a minute and ask ourselves, Arabs and most Muslims, what did we offer for ourselves and the rest of the world, since the beginning of the industrial revolution to this day, from human sciences and inventions or any other added value to civilization? Unfortunately, the answer is: almost nothing!!"
(1) This article is a reprint of a translation into English by Dar al Hayat, http://english.daralhayat.com/opinion/08-2003/Article-20030808-e1036326-c0a8-01ed-0054-c054dbe12836/story.html, August 8, 2003. The article originally appeared in Al-Hayat (London).
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