Arab Civilisation

I wish the other embassies would put on guest speakers of the calibre the US Embassy does. I, for one, certainly appreciate the US taxpayer spending money to fly various speakers over here to do public lectures. It makes up for the lack of back-pay for my work on their behalf πŸ™‚

Yesterday David Pryce-Jones spoke at the US Embassy on the Arab world and Islam, and the so called clash of civilisations.

I did not take notes so can not summarise his speech, but there were several parts of interest I recall.

He refuted the notion that most Muslims simply hate the USA, pointing out that if the USA abolished green cards and opened its borders there would be more Muslims living there than in the rest of the world. And he is right. They hate certain aspects of the US, but would still choose to live there if they could.

Quite a bit of time was spent how Islam does teach infidels are inferior to believers and women inferior to men, and that much resentment of the west does draw from the way women in western societies are portrayed as being a threat to their values. There was discussion on how much one respects local customs (ie women not speaking on maraes) and when does it become a human right issue.

He mentioned the case of the Saudi TV presenter who had her face fractured in 13 places by her husband. Her crime was to answer the telephone without permission. She went on TV to show the beating and was reviled by many in her country for doing this.

I queried whether Islam could modernise with no central authority or hierarchy to provide leadership. Dr P-J said that in fact in most Arab countries the religion is controlled by the state and used by it as a political tool, so one can get change through Governments. He pointed out that the supreme council in Saudi Arabia has put out over 1,000 statements and not one of them has ever been critical of the Saud royal family.

Also discussion on the Palestinian issue, and how in fact many Arabs revile the Palestinians, and only provide lip service to their issue. He suggested, as many did, that the US is not hated because of Israel but in fact it is more Israel being hated because of the US.

On the issue of hatred, he said one of the great catalysts for hatred of the US by many Muslims is what people like Michael Moore and Sean Penn say. If Michael Moore writes books and movies pronouncing that the US is run by a bunch of criminals, who rigged elections, kill off dissidents ect, then why on earth would Muslims not believe this, and think it is true. Robert Fisk tells them every week the US is evil, so why would they think otherwise.

Many will not agree with Dr Pryce-Jones but he is no arm-chair academic. He has spent much time over many decades in the Middle East and speaks from first hand experiences.

He actually praises the Arab family structure being superior in some ways than the West. They have no rest homes as families look after their elderly. He also speaks of Arab civilisation over the centruries as one of the world’s greatest.

However his conclusion was that Arab culture and civilisation is not modernising to face the world today, and if it does not do so, then it may be the only great civilisation in history to simply become irrelevant.

Comments (25)

Login to comment or vote

%d bloggers like this: