Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Islam - Study Warns of Stagnation in Arab Societies
NewYorkTimes ^ | July 2, 2002 | BARBARA CROSSETTE

Posted on 07/01/2002 8:05:15 PM PDT by swarthyguy

blunt new report by Arab intellectuals commissioned by the United Nations warns that Arab societies are being crippled by a lack of political freedom, the repression of women and an isolation from the world of ideas that stifles creativity.

The survey, the Arab Human Development Report 2002, will be released today in Cairo

The report notes that while oil income has transformed the landscapes of some Arab countries, the region remains "richer than it is developed." Per capita income growth has shrunk in the last 20 years to a level just above that of sub-Saharan Africa. Productivity is declining. Research and development are weak or nonexistent. Science and technology are dormant.

Intellectuals flee a stultifying — if not repressive — political and social environment, it says.

Arab women, the report found, are almost universally denied advancement. Half of them still cannot read or write. The maternal mortality rate is double that of Latin America and four times that of East Asia.

"Sadly, the Arab world is largely depriving itself of the creativity and productivity of half its citizens," the report concluded.

An advisory team of well-known Arabs in international public life was assembled to oversee the study. They included Thoraya Obaid, a Saudi who is executive director of the United Nations Population Fund; Mervat Tallawy, an Egyptian diplomat who heads the Economic and Social Council for West Asia; and Clovis Maksoud, who directs the Center for the Global South at American University in Washington and was formerly the Arab League's representative at the United Nations.

A team of nearly 30 authorities in various fields, including sociologists, economists and experts on Arab culture presented papers. A core group drawn from these authors and representing a wide variety of Middle Eastern and Arab majority African nations then completed the report.

Nader Fergany, a labor economist and director of the Almishkat Center for Research in Egypt, was chosen as the lead author. The report was published in Arabic, English and French, with an editorial team in each language. Women were represented at all stages of the formulation and writing of the report.

Planning for the report "started over a year ago, when we thought that there was a serious development problem in the Arab countries," Rima Khalaf Hunaidi, director of the United Nations Development Program's Arab regional bureau and the driving force behind the survey, said in an interview in her New York office. "There were some very scary signals that were specific to Arab countries and not other regions."

Then came the attacks on the United States, giving the report unexpected new relevance as explanations for Arab anger against the West are being sought.

The report, the first United Nations human development report devoted to a single region, was prepared by Arab intellectuals from a variety of disciplines, who do not fault others for what they see as the "deficits" in contemporary Arab culture, Ms. Khalaf Hunaidi said.

Ms. Khalaf Hunaidi, 49, a former deputy prime minister of Jordan who led its economic policy team, said that she had asked the authors, "to come and look at this problem and decide: Why is Arab culture, why are Arab countries lagging behind?"

"It's not outsiders looking at Arab countries," she said. "It's Arabs deciding for themselves."

There are 280 million people in the 22 Arab countries covered by the report, which was co-sponsored by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, a development finance institution set up by members of the Arab League. The number of Arabs is expected to grow to between 410 million and 459 million by 2020.

For the Palestinians in particular, the report says, human development is all but impossible under Israeli occupation. Moreover, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "has been a cause and a pretext for delaying democratic change," contended Ms. Khalaf Hunaidi, who was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents. She studied at the American University of Beirut and Portland State University in Oregon, where she received a doctorate in systems science.

The report does not directly criticize Islamic militancy and its effects on intellectual and economic growth, although Ms. Khalaf Hunaidi said this was implicit in passages that refer to a less tolerant social environment.

Despite growing populations, the standard of living in Arab countries on the whole has advanced considerably. Life expectancy is longer than the world average of 67 years, the report noted. The level of abject poverty is the world's lowest. Education spending is higher than elsewhere in the developing world.

But the use of the Internet is low. Filmmaking appears to be declining. The authors also describe a "severe shortage" of new writing and a dearth of translations of works from outside. "The whole Arab world translates about 330 books annually, one-fifth the number that Greece translates," the report said. In the 1,000 years since the reign of the Caliph Mamoun, it concludes, the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in just one year.

Laila Abou-Saif, an Egyptian writer and theater director whose theater in Cairo was closed in 1979 after she produced a play that satirized polygamy, said in an interview that the Islamic factor must be acknowledged in explaining the condition of the Arab world, which was a center of arts and sciences.

Ms. Abou-Saif, a Coptic Christian who now lives in the United States, said that creativity among Arabs now often hewed to religious themes.

Books are not being translated, in part because of Islamic pressures, said Ms. Abou-Saif, the author of "Middle East Journal: A Woman's Journey Into the Heart of the Arab World" (Scribner, 1990). "A whole gamut of religious literature are best sellers," she said.

Fouad Ajami, director of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the author, most recently, of "The Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation's Odyssey" (Vintage Books, 1999) said in an interview that there is a pervasive sense that life in the Arab world is repressed by both the state and religious vigilantes.

"Arabs today feel monitored," he said, attributing a decrease in intellectual freedom to the growing power of a lower middle class whose members are literate but not broadly educated.

This group shows "its lack of hospitality to anyone of free spirit, anyone who is a dissident, anyone who is different," he said.

Mr. Ajami said that for many Arab intellectuals the only option has been exile. "There is a deep, deep nostalgia today in the Arab world," he said. "Societies looking ahead and feeling a positive movement never succumb to nostalgia."

Above all, there is no movement in politics, he said. Rulers, even elected, stay in power for life and create dynasties. "People just don't know how to overthrow, how to reform, how to change them."


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: arabia; araby; clashofcivilizatio; islam; islamist; moderatemuslims; muslim; muslims; newyork
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-40 next last
Doesn't look good, does it, if you have a faith, hope and belief in our strategic campaign to entice the "moderate" arabislamic states to our side and win the hearts and minds of the jihadis. This 'hearts and minds" campaign is looking like a multigenerational effort.

I'd rather have 'em by the short hairs!

1 posted on 07/01/2002 8:05:15 PM PDT by swarthyguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: 4ourprogeny
Arabs say Arab World Hopeless.
2 posted on 07/01/2002 8:07:53 PM PDT by swarthyguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
This report will have zero impact because so few Muslims will ever read it. The MusloManiac world will keep on banging out 7-10 kids per family in it's demographic warfare with the rest of us. Impoverished masses of MusloManiacs will flock to Jihadist doctrines and the young unemployed men will be drawn to fighting the bloody Jihads.
3 posted on 07/01/2002 8:13:00 PM PDT by dennisw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
No doubt it's a multigeneration effort, and unfortunately if the hearts and minds don't come around soon enough the shorthairs will come first. Murderous cults masquerading as religion aren't generally won over with reason.
4 posted on 07/01/2002 8:18:16 PM PDT by EaglesUpForever
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
See: [Arab] Businessmen hit out at US move to target Saudis, Arab News, July 1, 2002, by Dhafir Al-Julfan (posted by SJackson).
5 posted on 07/01/2002 8:26:58 PM PDT by First_Salute
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dennisw
Unless we destroy the jihadis and their state allies, we will not have any peace. The Jihadistans will never change until they are destroyed and the populations are either scared, tired or defeated to hate the world. Then the muslims in turkey, india, the CentralAsian Stans can redefine the religion.

Although there are some sensible voices in EuroAm Muslims, they are certainly drowned out by the Saudi sponsored voices. It's a tragedy and worse, treasonous even, many would say, including me, that the speech and actions of American Muslims have convinced America that she must cast a wary eye on her muslims, to say the least.

This impression and reality has built up since September 2001 and i cannot see how muslims here will counter those perceptions held by Americans.

Often it seems that they do not wish to change American attitudes towards them; they just want to convert us all.
6 posted on 07/01/2002 8:27:47 PM PDT by swarthyguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: dennisw
"This report will have zero impact because so few Muslims will ever read it. The MusloManiac world will keep on banging out 7-10 kids per family in it's demographic warfare with the rest of us. Impoverished masses of MusloManiacs will flock to Jihadist doctrines and the young unemployed men will be drawn to fighting the bloody Jihads."

Yes, and it shows how self-defeating the Saudi Royals' spending on the Mullah's has been.

7 posted on 07/01/2002 8:29:12 PM PDT by NetValue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
"The whole Arab world translates about 330 books annually, one-fifth the number that Greece translates," the report said. In the 1,000 years since the reign of the Caliph Mamoun, it concludes, the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in just one year.

That explains a lot. And my guess would be that most of the ones they do translate are obscure rants against the U.S. and Isreal.

8 posted on 07/01/2002 8:31:58 PM PDT by PsyOp
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: EaglesUpForever
Right, applying rules of rationality and invoking the premise of benefits to both parties is a complete non-starter with the jihadis.
9 posted on 07/01/2002 8:32:50 PM PDT by swarthyguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
They're about 700 years late in their conclusions.
10 posted on 07/01/2002 8:34:26 PM PDT by Tench_Coxe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PsyOp
Ha! I bet the biggest all time translated bestsellers are the Protocols and MeinKampf.
11 posted on 07/01/2002 8:34:47 PM PDT by swarthyguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
"its lack of hospitality to anyone of free spirit, anyone who is a dissident, anyone who is different..."

           Is that Islam or [donning asbestos overalls] social conservatism?

12 posted on 07/01/2002 8:41:13 PM PDT by gcruse
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: EaglesUpForever
You know who the Arabs should be looking at? Japan. Japan closed itself off from the world for 250 years, until forced open in 1854 by Admiral Perry. 50 years later, Japan defeated a Western power, Russia, in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. What happened? Japan decided that it had to catch up to the West. It modeled it's government on Victorian England. Business law it took from Germany. Baseball from America. Science and technology from everywhere it could. It sent its young people to study in Europe and America.

They should also look at any of the Asian Tigers; Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea or Singapore. Also look at the countries that are failing and find out why.

The Arab intellectuals say the problem is lack of political freedom. Wrong. The real problem is a lack of freedom, property rights and tolerance. Even if you have freedom, but the society clamps down on you, when you do something different, freedom is worthless. They need to develop an amused tolerance of eccentricity, just think of the wonderful eccentrics in 19th century England.

Of course, this means that orthodox Islam must go. An Islam which prescribes and proscribes every activity under the moon. People need security in their persons and property in order to take the risks to be creative and to start something, something as basic as a business.

The Arabs are in deep-doo-doo and some of their intellectuals know it. When the former representative of the Arab League, Clovis Maksoud, is part of this effort, you know something is bubbling.

Colonize Arabia? Fund it all with Arab Oil? Re-establish the Ottoman Empire? You know, when they're just above sub-Saharan Africa, you know it's bad.

13 posted on 07/01/2002 8:44:02 PM PDT by Kermit
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
bump
14 posted on 07/01/2002 8:45:21 PM PDT by timestax
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: gcruse
"social conservatism"

Statism. Using the power of the state to dictate personal behavior moraes. Entirely too much of that going around.

15 posted on 07/01/2002 8:48:37 PM PDT by swarthyguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
The UN says this. It's similar to what Musharraf said about Pakistan. Even some Palestinians say this about Palestine. It's going to be a struggle considering the deadweight anchor of those who control the masses. But there is plenty of upside potential if they can ever get moving.
16 posted on 07/01/2002 8:49:18 PM PDT by RightWhale
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
"Protocols and MeinKampf."

I bet those translations keep the presses humming over there. Ironic that 50 years later Hitler's biggest fans are those he would have considered √ľntermensch.
17 posted on 07/01/2002 8:50:34 PM PDT by PsyOp
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: PsyOp
No kidding. No way would he not have attacked the Arabs if he had won. That oil would have been German. And India east, all Japanese.
18 posted on 07/01/2002 8:55:13 PM PDT by swarthyguy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
There is a way to turn back the tide of Islamofascism, but it takes a lot of ruthlessness and a total disregard of world opinion. Assad did it in Syria. It's basically the same way you deal with fire ants. If the leaders of some of these other Middle Eastern countries, who have been funding this idiocy and allowing its proponents to use state-owned media to promote it, ever wake up and realize the damage it's causing to them and the danger it poses to their own wealth and power, they might suddenly grow the cajones necessary to do the dirty work and solve this problem for us. If that day ever comes, there are going to be a whole lot of bulldozers flattening a whole lot of madrassas (after the soldiers have first made sure the doors were locked with everyone inside, then riddled the walls with bullets.) That was the Assad solution.
19 posted on 07/01/2002 9:06:40 PM PDT by HHFi
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: swarthyguy
Islam peaked and hit its golden age about a thousand years ago, problem was, they kind of stayed there. Since the world has moved on without them, and to great success, they grew bitter, since they are supposed to be the true religon. The blame the world for their being ignorant, poor and weak. They have oil which should produce great streams of revenue to help the people, but instead does nothing. They produce nothing of great significance, and their intellect is built soley on religion of their knowledge and interpretation of it. Since they are religious in their culture, and the koran forbids interest or usary, they have no way to generate wealth or create capital or spur investment. Hamil Banks or true muslims banks are very volatile. Since they have dedicated themselves soley to their religon, and since they can not comprehend or admit mistakes, they blame. Israel consistantly defeats the entire arab world in wars, it must be somones fault. The United States is a dominant superpower, they got their on somones back, europe (as crappy as it is) is doing well compared to them, they exploited people or threw the muslims out of spain. They are of a self defeating culture without the motivation to change and succeed, since they are so hopeless in their lives, they look forward to death since the koran makes it look so good if you follow the religion and engage in jihad. When their is no hope, there will be rage and anger and blame and ignorancy (or stupidity).
20 posted on 07/01/2002 9:10:24 PM PDT by Sonny M
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-40 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson