European IslamIslamic TerrorismMiddle East Peace Plans

Paradise Lost: The Decline and Fall of Arabia

Thomas Friedman once wrote, “Terrorism is not produced by the poverty of money. It’s produced by the poverty of dignity.” 1 If that is so, then the Arab world only has itself to blame. It is the West, they maintain, that is to blame for their decline. That attitude is now common in the Middle East with villains ranging from the Mongols to Anglo-French imperialists to the Jews to Islam itself. But that is only a small part of a much larger story. The classic works of Bernard Lewis, Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton University go far in explaining how the great Islamic Empire of Moorish Spain has been reduced to the cultural and economic backwater that is the Arab Islamic world today. Islamic hatred, according to Lewis, is the outcome of a collision between Western and Islamic civilizations and an Islamic historical response to secularism, the Renaissance and the Jewish-Christian heritage.

In his books on “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” and “What Went Wrong,” Lewis details how massive social, economic and scientific changes in the West during and after the Renaissance barely made a ripple in the Arab Muslim world for almost a millennium, and only with the dawn of the 20th century did they begin to realize the implications of their backwardness – illiteracy, poverty and political and religious repression. When the realization that the greatness of their medieval Andalusian caliphate had been eclipsed both culturally and militarily by the West, they chose to portray themselves as victims, searching for scapegoats and excuses, rather than confronting their own inadequacies. 2 The case Lewis makes is that the early success of Islam was more a curse than a blessing in that it had the effect of retarding the development of the Arab Muslim Middle East resulting in a particularly negative reaction to the rise of world dominance by the West. As the Reformation, the Renaissance, the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions took root in Western Europe (beginning in about the 16th century and accelerating through the 19th and 20th centuries), the West grew in wealth, power, scientific and technological accomplishment. It fought its religious wars and ultimately separated church from state resulting in the creation of an educated, secular, free thinking middle class unfettered by religious dogma – a middle class that was prepared to challenge ancient traditions of learning in virtually every field of human endeavor – art, literature, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, scientific research and philosophy. It was this Renaissance in thought that led to the growth of secularism and the technological and scientific supremacy of Western civilization, the transformation of public institutions, the rise of individual freedom and responsibility, and it left the Arab Muslim world behind and bitter.

Lewis argues that the success of Muhammad in establishing not merely the Muslim religion, but a state dominated by and inseparable from that religion, served to create a society that was totalitarian by its very nature, bound by rules and strictures that made it too static to adapt and compete with a West where Christianity, after the Reformation and the Renaissance, no longer demanded control over the political and economic spheres. In short, Islam, by never separating church from state, retarded the development of a freethinking, educated, secular middle class – the foundation stone upon which modern technology, invention and enterprise are built.

Because of this non-evolution, the Islamic faith itself became implicated in the decline of the Arab Muslim world relative to the West. Muslims were taught to regard Christianity as inferior to Islam. In the midst of these sea changes, the Islamic mentality was unmoved. Relatively few Muslims visited Europe and their governments didn’t establish consulates in the Christian West. They simply didn’t think much of anything useful could be learned from these infidels. After all, Islam represented the final and true faith, Christianity and Judaism were flawed precursors, and “one does not go forward by going backward.” 3

This is the fundamental flaw in Islamic culture – an implacable belief in its own superiority. This idea is rooted in the Quran and Islam – that the revelation to Muhammad represents the final and perfect revelation from the one true God. All previous revelations (including the Torah and Gospel that form the foundation of the culture of the non-Muslim West) were abrogated and those who followed them (primarily the Jews and Christians) were infidels who rejected this final revelation out of corruption and malice.

By the 11th century ijtihad (or independent thinking) was halted amid an atmosphere of intolerance. Previously, Muslim rulers (especially during the Golden Age in Andalusian Spain) had allowed scholars to delve into experimentation not only from existing interpretations, definitions and legal precedents but also from their own perusal of the texts. But, that now ended. Religious narcissism became incorporated into Islamic culture. Any innovation became suspect. This ethnocentrism led to the belief that anyone not completely fluent and observant in the literal word of Islam (as revealed to Mohammad) was the descendant of an animal and a barbarian, and since Islamic culture was divine, and since Islam was the only true religion, other religions were apostasies.

But there were other, more dangerous implications that flowed from this narcissistic interpretation of Islam. The Arabs had been transformed from a conquering enlightened nation into a conquered nation as the empires of Mehmet the Conqueror and Suleiman the Magnificent began to shrink. As a consequence, Islamic religious law closed in on itself and became “jihad law” prohibiting any imitation of or interaction with infidels. The superiority of Islam became a given so the defeat and colonization of the Islamic nations at the hands of Christendom could only be accounted for by Christendom”s use of lies, treachery and deceit.

Ever since Sheikh Ibn Taymiya (a 13th century Syrian scholar and an ideological forefather of what we now refer to as Islamic fascism) stated that conflict with the infidels was one of the goals of Islamic law, this superior attitude has created a psychological barrier between the Muslim Arab and modern culture and led to an internalization of the view that the institutions, sciences, universal values, and even the technology created by the infidels were heresy.

Ibn Taymiya believed that for Islam to regain its power, Muslims had to adhere to the original literal texts of Islam as revealed by Allah to Mohammad – stripped of any accretions or creative interpretations. Consequently, everything imported by the Muslims from outside the Arab world required a fatwa permitting it. Those who today advocate jihad Islam (martyrdom) seek vengeance against the modern Crusaders (epitomized by the United States and Israel) and the infidels. Islamic scholars assumed that the only knowledge that a Muslim needed to acquire was that of Islam. Knowledge was interpreted as “knowledge of Islam,” and the study of other kinds of knowledge was regarded as either sinful or as lacking in merit unless it contributed to jihad. As a result, the pursuit of knowledge as we know it in the Western world (other than the knowledge that flows directly from Islam) was neglected even banned.

In a series of articles written in the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat by an Arab diplomat (writing under the pseudonym Abu Ahmad Mustafa), the current backwardness of the Arab world was addressed in terms that were strikingly similar to those of Bernard Lewis: “The inquiry into why the West has advanced and why we continue to endure backwardness would lead us to study the difference between the two mentalities – the Arab and the Western. “”””The [Arab] concentrates on the past, lives in it, and longs to return to it, and clings to everything related to it: rituals, customs, and fantasies. On the other hand, the Western mentality is no longer occupied with these matters and does not consider them important in achieving what societies aspire to and what the common people long for. Rather, it has relegated these matters to a small number of people specializing in the past and benefiting from it. They, however, do not claim sanctity; nor do they deny it to others””.The Westerner believes that the spirit of a religion is more important than its writings, and that religion is a personal obligation that cannot be imposed by a small group of people who claim to possess its truth even though none gave them the right to harass others because of their interpretation of its immutable scriptures. Western societies have not achieved their scientific progress and institutional development through talking about the past, but through an effort to give priority to the circumstances of the present and to learn lessons from the crises of the past… [an attitude that] pushes society into a state of constant motion, thus avoiding an inflexible clinging to the letter of the [religious] writings.” 4

The Birth of the Arab Nation-State

As the last caliphate that theologically guided Sunni Muslims for more than 500 years ending at the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottomans failed to grasp the Christian West’s love for advances in technology, the sweeping changes in public institutions, the rise of individual freedom and responsibility, the changes in law that supported and encouraged those changes, and the arrival of the concept of modernity. They squandered their vast wealth that had been accumulated during the days when they controlled the land route between west and east, and never allowed mass education or industrialization to become part of the social fabric of their empire. They restricted literacy to male study of the Quran – wholly inadequate to a modern industrial society – and compounded the problem by importing the guns, military advisers and factories from the West, but not the latter’s values.

After the First World War, Britain and France inherited the Arab provinces of the Ottomans, and carved out new Arab states. These states were shaped as instruments for protecting and/or furthering the strategic objectives of the colonial powers. Boundaries were drawn irrespective of the tribal distinctions that had been in place for a millennium. Iraq was created to protect the oil fields of Mosul and Kirkuk without regard to the tribal lines established over the centuries by the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiites (the consequences of which we are seeing today in Iraq). Egypt”s role was to help protect the Suez Canal. Transjordan was created to keep an eye on the Arabian Peninsula and to provide a Western base (should it become necessary). As a result of these historical indignities, many Arab Muslims chose to blame their fate on the actions of foreign powers, above all European imperialism starting with the Crusades and carrying through to the colonial era, and, later, Zionism, Israel and the US.

In a quandary, they began to suffer from a pervasive malaise resulting from the contrast between the Islamic belief in their God-given supremacy and the state of backwardness, poverty and impotence of the Muslim countries. Seeking a model of government to emulate, they looked to their former colonial rulers and discovered that the only European political model that really worked in the Middle East was that of the one-party state, either in the Nazi or the communist version, which did not differ greatly from one another. 5 In these systems, political parties are not, as in the West, organizations for attracting votes and winning elections. Rather, they are part of the apparatus of government, particularly concerned with indoctrination and enforcement. 6 The Ba”ath Party was the classic model and became the center of power and political repression in Iraq and Syria.

As the colonial powers created armies to enforce their will, so the de-colonized Arab countries of the Middle East followed suit. By the end of World War II and the coming of the de-colonization era, these newly created Arab armies were no longer obliged to serve their colonial masters. Instead, they seized power in a series of coups under the guise of nationalism rather than religion. The conservative masses identified with the call for pan-Arab nationalism as it retained much of the Islamic legacy from their past. The term umma, traditionally used in reference to the Islamic nation (ummat al-Islam), was adopted by Arab nationalists like Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt to refer to the Arab nation (al-umma al-‘arabiyya) and their calls for jihad against the enemies of the Arab nation (notably Israel) evoked the familiar calls for jihad against the infidels, as these enemies – whether Jewish, English, French, or American – were indeed infidels.

Thus, pan-Arab nationalism seemed a suitable political vehicle for both the modernizing intellectuals and for the still-religious masses. 7 The success of pan-Arab nationalism originated with the Arab defeat leading to the birth of the State of Israel in 1948. Coup leaders blamed poor Arab performance on incompetent or treacherous Arab monarchs and vowed that, once in power, they would “restore Arab honor”. Ruthless Arab dictators assumed control in most Arab states on the premise that “force was the only law”. In most cases, the military overthrew traditional monarchial regimes that had based their legitimacy on Islam and tribal loyalties for centuries. In its place, they substituted the Western concepts of “nationalism” and “socialism.”

These military coups led to a gradual militarization of Arab politics to such an extent that, even today, Arab society has been degraded to a point where meaningful change can rarely, if ever, evolve from within. Violence became the main source of legitimacy. Directed against its own citizenry, this violence was designed to destroy any and all potential sources of opposition. Rather than unite the Arab world, pan-Arab nationalism only succeeded in keeping Arab states at each others’ throats.

Once the Arab military dictators had consolidated power, they turned their attention to the religious authorities that had been independent for a millennium. The mosques were infiltrated and eventually brought under state control. The billions raised through Muslim charitable donations (zakat) and the properties acquired by the religious establishment fell under military control thereby depriving their populations of an important source of income for social and economic development. The military also annexed the educational system, nationalizing thousands of private Quranic schools and dictating the curricula. Writing in National Review Online, Amir Taheri noted that even trade and craft guilds, some with centuries of history, were attacked and disbanded.

Nor did political parties and cultural associations escape the destruction. By the end of the 1970s, all that had been part of the Islamic tradition had been destroyed. The elimination of the independent press, the ownership and control of radio and television networks by the state and the vast resources allocated to “information” ministries enabled the new Arab dictatorial regimes to stifle dissident voices and impose their own version of reality and any conspiracy theories that could be doled out to their illiterate populations to account for the appalling state of affairs in their own countries.

The fact that the state controlled the largest sources of national revenue (the canal in Egypt; oil in Iraq) facilitated the imposition of an economy that was not dependent upon standard market forces. As a result, Arab dictators and despots had no real need for their populations. They drew little or no revenue from taxes and met their budgetary revenue from national assets such as oil, the canal, and, from the 1950s on, foreign aid. Whatever expertise they needed to run their economies was imported. The vital sectors were managed and operated by foreign experts and workers. Universities languished. The repressed middle classes left their countries to seek the economic and educational opportunities offered by Western society.

These new military regimes, holding no real elections, did not need the people to vote for them. They controlled most decision-making positions, were ideologically confused, unsure of their legitimacy, addicted to violence, ridden by nepotism and corruption, and most importantly (to them), they were protected by their ruthless intelligence and security services that dominated all aspects of Arab life. Thousands were executed and imprisoned, millions fled into exile as the moral fabric of Arab society was systematically destroyed. 8 Terrorism eventually became an instrument of policy. As the 1970s drew to a close, the last representatives of liberal, progressive thought that had persisted in the Arab world were either dead, languishing in prisons or living in exile.

Today, five decades after the wave of independence swept through the Arab world, the political regimes of the Middle East have failed to deliver on their promises. In most Arab countries, the military has managed to steal the fruits of independence. Military commanders have become autocratic rulers and military discipline has become the rule of law. Their failures have now opened the way for the emergence of Islamic fascism as an alternative to their mukhabarat regimes.

The Rise of Islamic Fascism

With the Arab League fragmented into clusters of states and with the Arab world having no political or military power center, Arabs increasingly were drawn to Islam. For many secular Arab ideologists, the defeat by Israel in the Six-Day War (1967) represented the ultimate crisis in Islam – lethargic, backward Arab Muslims defeated by a modern enemy. Only a few million Jews defeated a billion Muslims. The insult, the indignity was almost beyond comprehension to the average Arab in the street. Zionism and Israel now became the cutting edge of the Western whirlwind that was robbing them of their beloved world. The Islamic fascists saw the collapse of the Arab armies during the Six-Day War as divine retribution from Allah. As happened during the inter-war period in Germany, Islamists began fostering the perception that Arab Muslims were a superior people robbed by others of their rightful place in the sun. To regain their past glory, they would have to fight not only the mukhabarat regimes in their own countries, but the infidels and their influence that was invading and permeating the Muslim umma. For the Islamists, the 1967 defeat by infidel Israel had laid bare the worthlessness of secular Arab nationalism, Nasserist and Ba’athist alike. The masses began turning to religion for solace and consolation and the appeal of Islamic jihad (couched in religious terms) to undo past wrongs and regain past glories became a credible force in the Arab world. The maxim “Islam is the solution” was now proclaimed and the ideas and writings of Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader who was hanged at Nasser’s order on August 29, 1966 began to be widely disseminated. 9 Qutb is considered the father of the anti-Western jihad and the leading intellectual figure of modern Islamic fascism. So pervasive is Qutb’s influence that he has been called “the brains behind Osama (bin Laden).”

Qutb”s philosophy can be reduced to the following – “The goal of the Islamic fundamentalists is to abolish the Western, secular world order and replace it with a new Islamic divine order….The goal of Islamic fundamentalism is a new imperial, absolutist Islamic world power.” 10 What Qutb has to say makes Samuel P. Huntington”s controversial “clash of civilizations” appear relatively tame. He saw the confrontation between Islam and the West as a “zero-sum” game, the outcome of which had to be the absolute and total victory of Islam in the twenty-first century. “After the complete breakdown of democracy, Western civilization has nothing else to give humanity….The dominance of Western man has reached its end. The time has come for Islam to take the lead,” he wrote. The common theme in his writings is his prognosis that the Western, secularized world, which is deeply inferior to Islam, must and will be replaced by a new Islamic world order.

Qutb”s disciples assassinated Anwar Sadat in 1981 and the blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (currently in prison in the United States for his part in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing conspiracy) considers himself a disciple. In fact, the leaders of several major terrorist groups including Hamas and Islamic Jihad regularly cite Qutb’s works. His worldview, quite simply, was based on the concept that “Islam” means “submission” to the authority of Allah. All else was commentary. The fundamental principles of Islam, he believed, and the injunctions of its laws were one seamless garment woven by God for his creatures. As Robert Spencer wrote: “From its inception, Islam has presented itself not just as a religion in the Judeo-Christian sense of the term, but as a comprehensive set of laws for the ordering of society, including political life. Pious Muslims generally believe these laws to be the laws of Allah himself, and therefore immediately superior to any societal structures arrived at through elections – you don”t vote on the law of God.” 11

According to Qutb, Islam’s underlying aim was to change the process of history and create a new human being, unfettered by subservience to other human beings or institutions. To be a Muslim was to believe in the fundamental principles of Islam in its entirety. In effect, Islam is the solution to every conceivable problem. According to Qutb, “There are two parties in all the world – the Party of Allah and the Party of Satan – the Party of Allah (which stands under the banner of Allah and bears his insignia) and the Party of Satan (which includes every community, group, race, and individual that does not stand under the banner of Allah).” He believed that there was an inherent contradiction between Western culture and the religion of Islam. His interpretation excluded the validity of all other values, concepts or religions. Paganism (jahiliyya) was his generic designation given to all systems of thought other than Islam, both ancient and modern. He believed that since the dawn of history human, society has been a battleground between belief and unbelief, right and wrong, religious faith and idolatry. There is only one truth, he wrote, and that truth is Islam.

Qutb also marked the differences between the doctrinal foundations of Islam and modern philosophical currents. According to Islamic fundamentalism, the essential nature of human beings is religious and atheism is an aberration. Throughout human history, he writes, there have been only two methods of organizing human life – one that declares God to be the sole sovereign and source of legislation and another that rejects God, either as a force in the universe or as the lord and administrator of society. These two methods are irreconcilable – the first denotes Islam, the second paganism (beliefs of the infidels – Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc.). Once human beings accept “legislation” to be dependent on the will of an individual, a minority or a majority (i.e.: democracy), and not as the prerogative of God alone (as interpreted by the fundamentalist religious clerics), they lapse into “paganism” be it a dictatorship, capitalism, democracy, theocracy, the Enlightenment, secularism, nationalism or communism.

For Qutb, religious, economic, political and civil society were all based on the Quran (the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad) and the Sharia (Islamic law). As such, Islam regulates religious beliefs and practices as well as the administration of the State, the conduct of war, the making of treaties, matters pertaining to divorce and inheritance, the status of women, property rights and contracts (as if a complex modern economy can be constructed based upon unbending principles set down over a millennium ago). Islam, he wrote, provides the entire framework of life for Muslims and, in this sense; he taught that it is impossible to practice Islam within a secular context. 12 As a result, science has no value unless it is explained within the context of Islam.

Applying his interpretation of Islam to science, we arrive at something like this – the connection between a cause and its effect is assumed to be the result of God’s action. Thus, to account for why a piece of cotton is set on fire by a flame, Qutb would argue that the fire has no other cause but God. A piece of cotton is not set on fire because of an act performed by the heat of the flame, but as a result of God’s will to render the piece of cotton combustible. This simple, all-encompassing interpretation has survived for a millennium and represents in the clearest manner, the reason that the Arab Muslim world is in decline in virtually every field of scientific endeavor. Qutb contended that since the West and Islam were based upon fundamentally different principles, there was no way that Islamic society could compromise with the West. Either the West (or, in its broadest sense – Western influence) would prevail, or Islam would prevail. There was no middle ground. As a consequence, he argued that only by purging Western influences and returning to “true Islam” could the Muslim world ever recover its past glory.

His work concludes with an endorsement that true-believing Muslims must stand up for Islam against the Western infidels and against those “apostate Muslims” who have sold out to the West for money and power. Only through martyrdom in such a war, according to Qutb, would the Quran promise prosperity and paradise in the next world to those who follow his interpretation of the will of Allah. In effect, Muslims will never have honor, unity and strength until they return to Islamic Sharia. It follows that Islamic fascists consider Western prosperity, pluralism, and sexual equality to be worthless since the “true” Islamic society is superior to Western society and these concepts are alien to Islam. Therefore, regardless of the interpretations by modern Islamic scholars, the extremist interpretation of the language on the waging of jihad has allowed Islamic fascist scholars sufficient intellectual space to develop a concept that now threatens the Western world. In short, America is hated not because of what it has done wrong, but, ironically, because of what it has done right – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, democracy, economic prosperity, social equality, scientific progress, and religious and cultural tolerance and diversity – all of which are abhorrent to Islamic fascists who believe that they are the sole interpreters of the will of Allah and that the infidels are the “evil blasphemers.”

Islamic fascists like Qutb found the atmosphere in the Arab world a fertile ground for recruiting those who felt deluded by their weak, corrupt and incompetent military dictators and opulent despots. With the assistance of the religious media and religious education, they provided an easy answer – Since the Arabs have given up their religion, Allah had given up on them. Therefore, they had to embark on a campaign of return to Allah and to the Golden Age of Islam, and to do so, they had to return to jihad. After Qutb was executed, those who adhered to his world view of Islam argued that the Arabs had lost the Six-Day War because they had lost their faith and direction. They had disconnected themselves from the “true” Islamic way. Thus, the Arabs were easy prey for the infidels. Islamic society, they maintained, needed a rigid system of beliefs, an ideology to guide it. Their contention was that a strict literal interpretation of Islam as the uncompromising word of Allah offered that system of beliefs and could do what no other imported doctrine could hope to do – mobilize the believers, instill discipline, and inspire people to make sacrifices and, if necessary, to die for Allah through martyrdom. Pursuit of the Afterlife became life’s highest calling. They argued that the entire Muslim world was now being challenged by another Crusade – Western influence – one that sought to penetrate the mind of the Muslims and to rearrange it. 13

In July 2003, MEMRI (Special Dispatch Series 539) translated a speech by bin Laden addressing his “flock” after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan by what he termed “the betrayal by the Arab regimes of the Middle East”. “Great evil,” he said,” is spreading throughout the Islamic world – the imams calling people to hell are those who appear more than others at the side of rulers in the region, the rulers of the Arab and Islamic world. Through the media and their own apparatuses, through their ruin of the country by their adoption of destructive ideas, and laws created by man… from morning to evening, they call the people to the gates of Hell… The heresy against Allah and His Prophet is being carried out before the eyes and ears of all in newspapers, television, radio, and symposiums, and none oppose it… The (Islamic) nation has never been as damaged by a catastrophe like the one that damages them today.”

Islamic movements and groups have succeeded in the past three decades in fostering the notion of a global cultural war in which they confront a global conspiracy against Islam as a religion, culture and way of life. Jihad and Istishhad (martyrdom, notably by suicide) are now viewed by many in the Islamic world to be Islamic religious duties. The central notion is that of being in a state of siege which requires “self-defense” on their part. According to Reuven Paz of the Global Research in International Affairs Center, the confrontation justifies the use of any and all means – particularly when those means are given religious legitimacy. Groups like al Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and many other Islamic movements have succeeded in convincing many in the Muslim world that they represent the only true interpretation of Islam as they appear in the original sources of the faith. According to a Zogby International poll undertaken in March 2003 in six Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon – a huge majority of people in those countries said that, if given the choice, they would like their Islamic clergy to play roles larger than the subservient ones currently prescribed by most Arab governments. The democratic election of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the rising power of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the disruptive power of Shiite Iran and its growing influence in Iraq, Syria and throughout the entire Middle East represent the greatest threat to the Western democracies since the Third Reich.

The Arab Human Development Reports

The Arab Muslim world today is a living encyclopedia of outmoded forms of government, from sultanates such as Oman and emirates such as Qatar to dictatorships such as Syria and dynastic monarchies along the lines of Jordan. They all share a common religious and historical experience, which means they have also been betrayed by every political trend in their region for the past half-century – pan-Arab nationalism, Arab socialism, Arab despotism and now, Islamic fascism. They are stuck in systems that don’t work, they have no voice and no future, and they blame America for preserving the status quo that they hate and backing the regimes that have lied to them for decades. Today, the Arab states of the Middle East are little more than a string of what Bernard Lewis has referred to as “shabby tyrannies”, ranging from traditional autocracies to new-style dictatorships, modern only in their apparatus of repression and indoctrination – what Reuel Marc Gerecht terms “the nexus between autocracy and Islamic extremism.”

The Arabs have tried all sorts of political slogans since the end of World War II. The nationalists had the dream of pan-Arab unity. The Islamic fascists had the dream of a global Islamic state. As a result, the Arabs are living part of their daily lives in a dream world. They have sunk into a political morass fed by the backlash to American rhetoric that is eagerly seized upon and enhanced by Arab intellectuals. The leaders of the Arab world are afraid to dispel or to challenge those dreams since they have no way to justify their own ineffective governments.

The failure of today”s Islamic scholars to bring the original tenets of Islam from medieval to modern times has had a disastrous impact on the Arab world. In three articles posted by MEMRI (Special Dispatch Series 576) from translations of the liberal Arabic-language website “” during June 2003, Tunisian intellectual Al-Afif Al-Akhdar discussed the Arab identity crisis and education in the Arab world. He posits questions that, in total, spell out the future challenge. He notes – “Why is it that our countries are among the wealthiest in natural resources…and the poorest in human resources? Why does the world’s human knowledge double every three years… while with us, what multiplies several times over are illiteracy, ideological fear, and mental paralysis? Why do expressions of tolerance, moderation, rationalism, compromise, and negotiation horrify us, but [when we hear] fervent cries for vengeance, we all dance the war dance? Why have the people of the world managed to mourn their pasts and move on, while we have established, hard and fast, our gloomy bereavement over a past that does not pass? Why do other people love life, while we love death and violence, slaughter and suicide, and [even] call it heroism and martyrdom…?”

In a Freedom House study, “Freedom of the Press 2004: A Global Survey of Media Independence” of the 19 Middle Eastern and North African countries, only one, Israel, is rated “Free,” with 90% of the countries in the region rated “Not Free.” The Middle East is the only region in the world with an average rating of “Not Free.” But a lack of press freedom belies a far greater systemic problem in the Arab world. The Arab Human Development Reports prepared by a group of 26 regional Arab scholars and policy analysts under UN auspices shows the extent to which the Arab world has fallen. 14 To their credit, rather than blame the Arab condition on a lack of foreign and humanitarian aid from the West (as most Arab regimes are prone to do), the Arab authors of the 2002, 2003 and 2004 UN Arab Human Development Reports identified “the lack of democratic and efficient governance as a major obstacle to economic growth . . . the need for a transparent rule of law, and a fair and fast legal system with a professional judiciary.” Privatization and economic freedom (both necessary ingredients for modernization) are meaningless without the rule of law. The Reports were revolutionary in their findings, although their recommendations may never be applied.

The first Report, issued in 2002, diagnosed the three fundamental deficits in the Arab world – deficits in political rights, women’s rights and knowledge. 15 The second Report issued in 2003 looked into the state of knowledge acquisition at the beginning of the 21st century and concluded that the production and dissemination of knowledge in Arab countries remain weak despite the presence of significant Arab human capital. 16 The third Report was subtitled “Towards Freedom in the Arab World.” It offered anecdotal evidence of improvements but no evidence of sustainable changes in the political culture. By the Report’s own admission, there has been considerable regression in the areas of human rights violations, torture, and mistreatment in detention centers of human rights activists and imprisonment of journalists; indeed, in 2004, the countries under study held the world’s worst record regarding the freedom of press. (pp. 39-40) 17

Collectively, the Arab Development Reports describe in precise detail the failings of the Arab world as it enters the 21st century. Newspapers circulate in the Middle East at one-fifth the rate of the developed world; the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Arab world is less than the GDP of Spain; and Arab countries constitute only 4% of the world’s trade even though they make up 20% percent of the world’s population. The Reports note that Arab countries have not learned from the lessons of the past and “the field of translation remains chaotic.” Some, like John Loftus, trace the beginning of the great Arab decline to the Turkish edict to ban the printing press on the Arabian Peninsula. Consequently, in the thousand years since the reign of Caliph Mamoun, the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in a single year! In the first half of the 1980s, the average number of books translated per 1 million people in the Arab world during a 5-year period was 4.4 while in Hungary it was 519 and in Spain 920. The number for Israel is approximately 380.

The Reports also criticize the production of knowledge and use the number of patents registered in the United States as an example. Between 1980-2000, Arab countries, as a group, registered 370 patents. In the same time period, Korea registered 16,328 patents and Israel 7,652 patents. What might explain this deficiency in knowledge production is the rate of expenditure as a percentage of GNP for R&D funding. In the US, the average expenditure is 3.1% of GNP; in a number of major European economies it is 2.4%, but in the Arab states as a group, the corresponding figure is a meager 0.2% of GNP.

The Role of Women in Arab Society

The UN Report gives special attention to the status of women in Muslim societies. 18 Saudi law, for instance, does not give women the right to run a business by themselves even if they are the owners of the business. According to their commercial laws, women are not only banned from running businesses, but businesswomen who own a company or even a group of companies worth millions of Saudi riyals have to appoint a male guardian or agent to run the business on their behalf. Women are treated if they were minors or inexperienced, underage persons who cannot be trusted to manage their own money and affairs. In short, women, it seems, are allowed to work as employees in their own companies, but cannot administer their companies except through their agents. The UN Report was of the view that a society that fails to empower fully 50% of its population is a society that is acting against its own best interests.

The difficulty in changing this attitude was best demonstrated on January 14, 2004, when Sheikh Muhammad Kamal Mustafa, the imam of the mosque of the city of Fuengirola, Costa del Sol was sentenced by a Barcelona court to a 15 month suspended sentence and fined for publishing his book ‘The Woman in Islam.’ In this book, the Egyptian-born Sheikh Mustafa writes, among other things, on wife beating in accordance with Shar’ia law. The imam explained how it should be done: “On pages 86-87, Mustafa states: “The [wife-] beating must never be in exaggerated, blind anger, in order to avoid serious harm [to the woman].” He adds, “It is forbidden to beat her on the sensitive parts of her body, such as the face, breast, abdomen, and head. Instead, she should be beaten on the arms and legs,” using a “rod that must not be stiff, but slim and lightweight so that no wounds, scars, or bruises are caused.” Similarly, “[the blows] must not be hard.” Mustafa noted in his book that the aim of the beating was to cause the woman to feel some emotional pain, without humiliating her or harming her physically. According to Mustafa, wife-beating must be the last resort to which the husband turns in punishing his wife, and is, according to the Quran, Chapter 4, Verse 34, the husband’s third step when the wife is rebellious: First, he must reprimand her, without anger. Next, he must distance her from the conjugal bed. Only if these two methods fail should the husband turn to beating.” 19 In his verdict, the judge said that Sheikh Mustafa’s book contained incitement to violence against women, that today’s society is completely different from society 1,400 years ago.

The Educational Crisis

John Loftus was not far wrong when he described the goal of Arab dictators as keeping their populations in a state of perpetual ignorance – “dumb,” he said “meant docile…..Illiterate populations can be easily manipulated with religious nationalism.” Failures in educational reform have left the Arab world bereft of a labor force with the required skills to run a modern economy. Failures in civil society have propelled more and more Arabs into the ranks of Islamic fascist movements, whether the Wahhabi sects of the Arabian peninsula, the Islamic Brotherhood of Egypt, the Salafis of Europe, the revolutionary guerilla army in Algeria, or the transnational network of al Qaeda. You cannot build a 21st century economy with 10th century skills. According to the Human Development Reports with 80 million people in the Middle East living in poverty and 15% to 20% unemployment rates, the urgency of economic growth and job creation to absorb the growing labor force is vital. Arabs states are the only ones in the world with living standards that have declined steadily for the past two decades. The region’s access to computers and the Internet is among the most limited in the world, with only 1.6% of the Arab population having Internet access and only 1.2% having personal computers. Furthermore, over the past 20 years, growth in per capita income (0.5% annually) has been lower than anywhere else in the world except sub-Saharan Africa. One in five Arabs still live on less than $2 a day. The Reports note that sixty-five million adults are illiterate (almost two-thirds of them women) and ten million children have no schooling at all. 20

The Reports estimate that by the year 1976, 23% of Arab engineers, 50% of Arab doctors, and 15% of Arab B.Sc. holders had emigrated. Roughly 25% of 300,000 first-degree graduates from Arab universities in 1995/6 emigrated and between 1998 and 2000 more than 15,000 Arab doctors emigrated. The number of scientists working in Arab countries is about one-third of the global average and about a quarter of graduates from universities leave for the West. Even the Arabic language has become a barrier because the written form of Arabic taught in schools is no longer spoken and does not have an adequate scientific lexicon for 21st century technology.

In the case of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, for example, the 30-year totalitarian regime had driven more than 3 million Iraqis outside the country, including some of the most educated. It was estimated by the Iraqi daily Al-Zaman that 2,000 Iraqi doctors work in British hospitals. The dilemma boils down to this – “It is one thing to call a friend on a cell phone, and quite another to realize that one’s society cannot make the phone, cannot fix it, cannot improve upon it, and cannot even use it as desired – and is reminded of these failures by the very fact of the imported device’s daily use.” 21 Arab societies governed by 10th century Islamic laws cannot prepare their peoples to be competitive in the modern world.

Among the other findings reviewed by the Reports were authoritarian and over-protective child rearing, the deteriorating quality of education in many countries in the region, curricula in schools that encourage submission, obedience, subordination and compliance rather than free critical thinking, the lack of autonomy at universities and the poor state of university libraries. Muslim commentators note that Arab educational systems are not preparing students to succeed in the 21st century. Abdel Hamid al-Ansari, Dean of the Faculty of Sharia at Qatar University identified the problem when he wrote: “A significant part of our educational discourse is cut off from the modern sciences and is based on a one-dimensional view, creating a closed mentality and an easy slide towards fanaticism. It plants misconceptions regarding women and religious or ethnic minorities; it is dominated by memorization and repetitive methods.” 22

In short, education continues to be based upon rote memorization not questioning and challenging. In Saudi Arabia, religious studies make up about 40% of the school curriculum – “From their school days on, Arabs are instructed that they should not defy tradition, that they should respect authority, that truth should be sought in the text and not in the experience. Fear of fitna (civil discord) is deeply engrained in much Arab-Islamic teaching. “The role of thought,” wrote a Syrian intellectual “is to explain and transmit…and not to search and question.” The largest donors to Middle East educational reform include the World Bank, the European Union, USAID, UN agencies and others who sponsor endless workshops and conferences on how educational reforms can be achieved. They have suggested changes in syllabi and curricula, teacher training, the introduction of computers and access to Internet in classrooms. The response from most of the official recipients of this funding, however, comes in the form of lofty, idealistic speeches, followed by virtually nothing.

The Report also suggested a radical restructuring of Arab society: “It recommends bold strategies for improving the crumbling educational systems of the area through better governance, greater citizen participation, more government transparency, a larger role for women, better quality technical and scientific education, more qualified teachers and encouragement of “free critical thinking” rather than “submission, obedience, subordination and compliance.”

The Freedom Gap

The failure of the political regimes of the Arab world to deliver on democracy, coupled with their failure to deliver on economic development and their failure to respond to rapid social change have made many of their impoverished masses begin to see Islamic fascism as an alternative. It is simple, safe, requires no debate or scientific inquiry and demands only unquestioned submission to the literal meaning of the Quran in order to reap the blessings of Allah and the benefits of the Afterlife. 23

Those who now rule the Arab world face the ultimate dilemma – either begin the slow process of democratizing their societies (and risk losing their power) or lose their societies to Islamic fascists (and risk losing their lives)”and the gray area between the two options (i.e.: a peaceful transition of power and authority to the rising reform-minded, educated Arab middle class elite) is fading fast. “War would be a shock to the whole region,” said Hala Mustafa, an analyst at the Al Ahram Center in Egypt: “But that shock could push us toward raising the level of discourse, toward examining our internal problems. We need to start being self-critical and stop blaming others for everything. We need to stop dividing the world into them and us. In this transitional period, we might not enjoy stability, but in the end, the change would be change for the good.”

On March 3, 2004, the Jordan Times summed up the options: “The Arab countries are part and parcel of the globalization process and cannot escape the external pressures that are applied on all nations. International standards on democracy, human rights, and rule of law have been adopted by the international community. The Arab states were part of the process that articulated these international norms and adopted them in due course as legally binding conventions. The Arab world cannot now claim that these international standards reflect only Western culture and perspectives.” 24

But joining global modernism will require the Arabs to cut themselves off from the norms, institutions, and values of the past that are not suited to the demands of our time and the needs of their people. The norms of our day require a transition from an economy ruled by Sharia law to an economy ruled by proper market laws in the hands of internationally agreed-upon institutions. These norms require a transition from an autocratic regime to a state ruled by law; from a perception of the ‘natural’ differences between men and women and between Muslims and infidels to a perception of equal civil rights and obligations; from persecuting minorities to respecting their rights; from demands for traditional law to demands for the law of reason; from the era of the rights of Allah to the era of respecting human rights; from a culture of hatred to a culture of respect and civilized discourse; from religious fanaticism to religious tolerance; from a culture of blind faith to a culture of questioning; and from a culture of absolute truth to a culture of relative truth. 25

Democratizing Islam

To reinterpret the Quran to accommodate 21st century globalization will be a profoundly difficult task for much of Islamic history is rooted in tribalism and a historical evolution totally different from that of the Western experience. “Denominated by faith, animated by folklore and daily language rich in religious allusion, and remembered overwhelmingly through military victory and defeat, Islamic history is an emotional keyboard for even the least educated and least faithful.” 26

Part of the reason is Islam itself. Although Islam is complex, its political implications are fairly simple – it supports authoritarianism by rulers and submission by followers. Islamic political culture permits no independent public sphere, and no separation between the spiritual and the temporal. Islam’s emphasis on divine sovereignty rather than popular sovereignty (with the former being expressed through the Sharia and interpreted by religious scholars) puts many of the most important issues of public policy outside the realm of public decision-making. According to a literal interpretation of Islam, only two options exist – dominate or be dominated. Like Christianity, Islam is a universal faith that envisions the ultimate transformation of the world in its image. But unlike Christianity in our time, Islam has yet to consider the option of religious pluralism based on the equality of all faiths.

Islam has been a force in the region for well over a millennium and reconciling it with freedom and the consequences of modernization will be difficult. Any Islamic Reformation will necessarily involve separating the Muslim faith and clergy from the political state and from the economy. It would mean that governments will not always act in accordance with Islamic tradition, and may not even make a pretense of trying to maintain some of those traditions. In real life, as opposed to textbooks on civics, democracy is something of an acquired taste. There is a world of difference between democracy and anarchy, but the only reason that we, in the West, understand the difference is because we’ve had the experience of both as part of our history. The Arabs have not. It has taken the West four centuries to reconcile freedom with religion. In England, what is now considered “the democratic tradition” included a march toward parliamentary government that began with the Magna Carta in the 13th century and involved four centuries of persecutions, Crusades, Inquisitions, religious wars and a Renaissance in thought culminating in the separation of church and state, and the creation of an educated, free-thinking, secular middle class. In the end, a stable, progressive system of human governance was established.

It is possible then, that our hopes and dreams for a new Arab enlightenment may be a tad high. That is because democracy cannot exist in an environment without parties and Islam condemns the dividing of the Muslim ummah into such parties and groups. Any division, whether along sectarian or political lines is unlawful. Traditional Islamic scholars maintain that only the Sharia (the Quran and the Hadith which contains the vast collection of sacred laws developed in the 7th century) can govern men, even though it is impossible to manage a modern-day economy and sustain scientific development on the basis of unbending principles set down over a millennium ago and designed for conquest and domination.

The religion of Islam must somehow find a way to live in the modern world. It cannot compel religious obedience through murder and expect to emerge from the Dark Ages. As Brink Lindsey of the CATO Institute wrote in the National Review: ”Any faith that makes rote memorization of ancient texts, suppression of critical inquiry and dissent, subjugation of women, and a servile deference to authority the center of its existence, cannot create anything other than its own decline.”

Separate and apart from issues related to Islam and Islamic culture, Middle East scholars see several factors that make the Arab World less receptive to sweeping democratization. The first comes as a result of almost constant inter-Arab conflicts. War and the preparations for war have played a major role in causing the Arab states to be less inclined to democracy. Wars traditionally concentrate power in the hands of leaders. This, in turn, has lead to greater state control over the economy. Wars also limited the power and authority of the private sector – the most likely sector to push for economic liberalization. Unfortunately, war and preparations for war that have characterized most Arab countries also resulted in larger roles in the political system for such coercive institutions as the army and the secret police. Leaders continue to use such institutions against their political foes and populations rather than allow free political competition that could end their rule.

The second factor mitigating against the development of democratic institutions in the Arab world is external revenue. Reliance on oil revenues has reduced the need of the Arab regimes to respond to the demands of their populations for political change. Since these regimes do not rely upon taxing their populations to fund their state budgets, they can ignore demands for broadened political participation. Western oil revenues have allowed Arab governments to devote a greater percentage of their budgets to their military, intelligence and security apparatuses rather than to concentrate on their countries” social welfare and educational sectors. As a consequence, their political systems have become dysfunctional.

The third factor has to do with Bedouin or tribal values. A central obstacle to democratic growth is the harsh natural environment that led to the development of Bedouin values, ideas, and ways of behavior in the Arab world. According to MEMRI (Inquiry and Analysis Series – No. 240) some 90% of the area of the Arab countries is desert ” a fact that led to the formation of Bedouin tribes and patriarchal clans that had to defend themselves and their interests under the harshest of conditions. Since water and food sources were limited, tribes fought one another for control of them which explains the warlike nature of desert society. Their harsh desert history led the Bedouins to develop values and ways of behavior requiring them to repress other tribes (since in Bedouin life, a person either controls or is controlled). It also created a tribal mentality that was constantly preparing for war in order to achieve hegemony. That led to a patriarchal system, contempt for strangers; and an amazing ability to shift loyalties depending upon tribal interest. Although most Bedouins over time settled in Arab cities, they remained tribal in outlook which accounts, in large measure for why Iraq appears to be descending into its tribal past as opposed to developing an “Iraqi national identity”. The gradual movement of these nomadic tribes into Arab cities has not diminished the tribal nature of Arab society just as the majority of European Muslims have failed to integrate into European society. “This has become an obstacle to democracy, because democracy can develop only in a civil society in which bonds among people are stronger than their blood ties. A patriarchal society ruled arbitrarily by the tribal sheik can in no way accept the idea of a political party. If the idea is imposed on it, it will result in every tribe or ethnic group having a party (as we are seeing in Iraq). When these tribe-parties rise to power, they will… put together a government with their allies [only] ” and, ultimately, they will distribute the assets of the homeland amongst themselves [alone]. Slowly and gradually, they will take the place of the state…” 27

In order for this tribal influence on Arab political thought to cease, states must arise in the Arab world with institutions that can replace the tribe with a national identity to the point where tribal ties will not be able to supplant the laws of the state. Only if such a transition can be achieved, can Arab societies enter the modern age. Arabs will then join unions to defend their professional interests and national parties will evolve whose platforms will suit their aspirations. Only then will Arab societies relinquish their tribal instincts, but such a transition will take generations.

The fourth factor facing the Arab world in its transition to the modern age has to do the disinclination of moderate Islamists to confront the Islamic fascists in their midst. We often hear that fear is the reason for their silence, but there is a more profound religious reason for the silence. A fundamental element of Islam is that takfir (or the act of accusing another Muslim of heresy) is a very serious Islamic issue. Even moderate Muslims believe in the deeply rooted value that Islam places on “unity among the believers” and aversion to fitna (communal discord). Unfortunately, this religious imperative that was created as a tool to prevent internal debates from deteriorating into civil strife and accusations of heresy (as occurred in Christian Europe) has become a political tool in the hands of Islamic fascists who use it today to drown out any criticism of their actions. Consequently, even when pressure is put on Muslim communities, there exists a political asymmetry in favor of the Islamic fascists. Moderates are reluctant to come forward and risk being accused of apostasy. For this reason, many Muslim regimes in the Middle East and Asia are reluctant to crack down on Islamic fascists and satisfy themselves with dealing only with the political violence. They trade tolerance of jihad elsewhere for local calm. Thus, they lose ground to the Islamic fascists in their societies. In effect, the less observant or less orthodox will hesitate to challenge fundamental dogmas out of fear of being branded heretics. They prefer to pay their dues to the religious establishment, hoping that by so doing they are also buying their own freedom from coercion. 28

In short, bringing the Arab world into the 21st century has become the major challenge of our time. True democracy involves questioning the reasons for the failure of the current Arab regimes to raise the living standards of their citizens; changing state priorities; discussing the benefits of economic liberalization, privatization and development; recognizing the vast anomalies that exist within Arab society; instituting broad educational reform measures and raising literacy standards; systematically eradicating government corruption; introducing free elections; debating the status of women in Islamic societies; questioning the reason for the emergence of growing numbers of “street children” in the Arab world; and discussing issues relating to open access to information, communications, professional organizations, trade unions, fair laws and the judiciary, but these indicators will require a sea-change in Arab thinking. 29

If democracy is to come to Arabia, it will require the acceptance of less economic equality (egalitarianism is central to Islamic economic teachings) in exchange for greater wealth and rising living standards in the entire society. It will entail making women full participants in Islamic society. It will require accepting the existence of Israel in the Islamic world. Most of all, it will require acceptance of the idea that Islam itself will decline somewhat in popularity and in its centrality to society, and that it will suffer some significant doctrinal alterations all of which has happened both to Judaism and Christianity in the West. Islamic culture will begin displaying certain inevitable signs of moral degradation as people are freed from the strict religious observance of Islamic religious law. Even the late Pope John Paul II recognized that as societies became more affluent, they also became more secular. Historian James Q. Wilson notes that whereas the West reconciled religion with freedom, it did so by making the individual the center of Western society and the price that it has paid has been rampant individualism resulting in weak marriages, high crime rates, growing secularism, and often a sense of personal insignificance and alienation from society. Alternatively, when Islam kept religion as the center of Islamic society as in the case of the Tailban, Saudi Arabia and Islamic Iran, it has done so at the expense of freedom, made the individual subordinate to society, and the price that it has paid has been autocratic governments, religious intolerance, little personal freedom and economic decline. 30

It is possible that Islamic traditions can combine with the freedom and pluralism inherent in democracy to produce a new form of governance for the region. But before that can occur, the Arab world needs to overcome many challenges including its colonial legacy (that did nothing to transmit democratic values to the masses), socioeconomic factors (such as illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, education and food and water shortages) and Islamic fascism – each of which represents a major obstacle to Arab democratization. But the fundamental issue remains that the modernization of the Arab world and that cannot come to pass without freedom. For the Arab regimes of the Middle East to do nothing in the face of increasing unrest, poverty, unemployment, corruption and growing disenfranchisement in their societies will inevitably lead to the growth of Islamic fascism in their countries.

In most Arab countries, a new urban middle class is taking shape, and is looking for an alternative to the religious paranoia of the Islamic fascists and the corrupt ineptitude of the ruling cliques. The Arab middle class in the Middle East has no voice and is not permitted to share in the rich diversity of opinion that exists within the Arab world. In fact, there is no section of the Arab world that is more isolated than the democratic Left, the democratic right and the moderate center. The development of an Arab middle class represents the Arab world”s best hope for the future, America”s best hope for a stable region and the world”s best hope for a peaceful future for our posterity.


  1. Thomas Friedman, “The Land of Denial,” The New York Times, June 5, 2002
  2. George Melloan, “Puzzling Over What Makes Arabs So Fractious,” The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2002
  3. Fritz Lanham, ‘What went wrong: Bernard Lewis probes Islam’s response to the West’s power,” Houston Chronicle, Jan. 19, 2002
  4. MEMRI, United Jerusalem, July 22, 2003
  5. Amir Taheri, “The Ideas Battlefield: Restoring Civil Society,” National Review Online, March 31, 2003; Arab Development: Doomed to Self-Failure,” The Economist, July 4, 2002; Iranian Alert — December 22, 2003 — IRAN LIVE THREAD
  6. Bernard Lewis, “Democracy and the Enemies of Freedom,” The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2003
  7. Menachem Milson, “Reform vs. Islamism in the Arab World Today,” MEMRI, Special Report – No. 34, September 15, 2004; Amir Taheri, op. cit.
  8. Ibrahim Nawar, “Freedom of Expression in the Arab World,” The Arab Press Freedom Watch, Wye River, May 30 – June 1, 2000
  9. Menachem Milson, op. cit.
  10. Dinesh D’Sousa, “Osama’s Brain: Meet Sayid Qutb, intellectual father of the anti-Western Jihad,” April 29, 2002; “America”s Diminishing Influence in the World,” National Center for Constitutional Studies, March 2003
  11. Robert Spencer, “Why the Iraqi Uprising?” FrontPageMagazine, April 6, 2004
  12. Dinesh D’Sousa, op.cit.
  13. Ibrahim Nawar, “Freedom of Expression in the Arab World,” The Arab Press Freedom Watch, Wye River: May 30 – June 1, 2000
  14. Wall Street Journal, “Arabs and Democracy,” July 8, 2002
  15. MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis Series No. 104, “Human Development in the Arab World: A Study by the United Nations,” July 25, 2002.
  16. MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis Series No. 151, “The Failure to Establish a ‘Knowledge Society’ in Arab Nations: Arab Human Development Report,” November 6, 2003.
  17. Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli, MEMRI: Inquiry and Analysis ” Reform, “The Arab Human Development Report III: An Appeal for Openness and Freedom,” April 29, 2005, No. 219. See – “United Nations Development Programme, Arab Human Development Report 2004 – Towards Freedom in the Arab World” New York, April 2005.
  18. Near East Report, “Discrimination Against Women in the Arab World is Pervasive,” July 29, 2002, Vol. 46, No.15, p. 60
  19. Steve Stalinsky and Y. Yehoshua, “Muslim Clerics on the Religious Rulings Regarding Wife-Beating,” MEMRI, March 21, 2004
  20. Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli, “Human Development in the Arab World – A Study by the United Nations,” MEMRI – Inquiry and Analysis, July 25, 2002, No. 104; “Self Doomed to Failure,” The Economist, July 4, 2002; George Melloan, “Puzzling Over What Makes Arabs So Fractious,” The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2002
  21. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, December 5, 2003
  22. Richard Haass, “Transcript: US Has Responsibility to Promote Democracy in Muslim World,” Washington File, December 4, 2002
  23. Zvi Bar’el, “The Silence of the Rabbits,” Ha’aretz, December 28, 2001
  24. Jordan Times, “Towards Promoting Democracy,” March 3, 2004
  25. “Arab Identity Crisis,” FrontPageMagazine,, September 22, 2003
  26. Reuel Marc Gerecht, “Democracy Anxiety: Iraq’s Shiites are nervous they won’t get to vote; Americans are nervous about letting them,” The Weekly Standard, February 2, 2004, 02/02/2004, Volume 009, Issue 20.
  27. A. Dankowitz, “Libyan Intellectual Dr. Muhammad Al-Houni: The Arabs Must Choose Between Western Civilization and the Legacy of the Middle Ages”, MEMRI, Inquiry & Analysis ” Reform Project, September 12, 2005, No. 240.
  28. Shmuel Bar, “The Religious Sources of Islamic Terrorism,” Freeman Center Broadcast June 13, 2004
  29. For a discussion on both aspects of the subject, see World Policy Journal Article, Vol. 18, No. 3, Fall 2001 at
  30. James Q. Wilson, “The Reform Islam Needs,” The Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2002

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