Most articles about what the Arabs need to do to get out of their current predicament tend to be rather tiresome at best and badly-disguised attack jobs for some ideology that is unsympathetic to Arabs at worst. If they’re written by Thomas Friedman, they’re both tiresome and offensive.
The article below, I think is different and worth reading. The author is Ahmed Zewail, the Egyptian-American Nobel Prize winning chemist, often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in Egypt (I don’t think he could run as a dual national anyway, and he’s no politician.) Sure, the article is vague, but it draws rather clear outlines of what needs to be done and most importantly rejects the “gradual reform” offered by the current regimes out of hand. There’s been enough flawed processes in the region — two decades of a “reform process” that was an excuse for one elite to replace another, a “peace process” in Israel/Palestine that was empty of any real content and now a “democratization process” whose entire purpose is to prevent anyone from ever reaching the end of the process: democracy, warts and all.
(Highlights mine, thanks to reader B.I. for emailing this.)
Ahmed Zewail: We Arabs must wage a new form of jihad
We must not be distracted by old ideologies and conspiracy theories
Published: 24 August 2006
The cataclysmic wars in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq have uncovered the reality of Arab unity and plight, and the collective conscience of international society. It is abundantly clear that the Arab people must themselves build a new system for a new future. The current state, as judged by a low GDP, high level of illiteracy, and deteriorating performance in education and science, is neither in consonance with their hearts and minds nor does it provide for their political, economic, and educational aspirations.
Yet this is the same Arab world that produced leading civilisations, world-class universities, and renowned scholars and scientists. Clearly, something has gone seriously astray.
Continue reading “Jihad for modernity and enlightenment”