One of a handful of Muslims -- two or three -- who have Nobel Prizes in real subjects (i.e., not Peace), Ahmed Zewail thinks the West should keep rescuing Arab and Muslim lands from their own endemic violence and aggression and inability to settle anything through non-violent means.
His piece at the Huffington Post includes this:
"Syria is the proud heir of an ancient civilization that has a unique spectrum of minorities that encompasses Muslims and Christians of various denominations. There are at least ten such ethnic and religious groups. For centuries they all lived together peacefully. Now, with the internal war intensifying, this unity is dissolving into a civil and tribal war that not only will end Syria's nationhood, but will also spill over to the rest of the Middle East."
If he includes in those "minorities" the Jews who no longer are to be found in Syria, their history can hardly be described as ideal. He might recall the pogrom in Damascus in 1840. If he means that at least the Christians always got along with their Muslim neighbors, he might be reminded of the massacre of the Maronites in Damascus in 1860. If he thinks the Alawites, whose faith is not exactly that of Shi'a Islam, as so many appear to think, but rather a syncretistic blend of Muslim and Christian elements, with a notable veneration of Mary (Mariam), fit in quite well with the Sunni Muslims of al-Shams, he should perhaps be reminded of how they were treated for centuries by those same Sunni Muslims, among whom they were forced to endure, like the Jews and Christians, constant reminders of their own low status, and subject to constant humiliation. That is why the grandfather of Bashir Al-Assad once wrote admiringly of the Zionists who, despite the Muslims, had managed to return and to rebuild their homeland; the father, and the grandson, however, decided they could best protect the Alawites if they adopted the protective coloration of Ba'athism, which meant pan-Arabism, whcih meant demonstrating, on every occasion, their violent anti-Israel sentiments and the role of Syria as a center of "resistance" against those same Zionists whom the grandfather had once written of admiringly.
Why does Ahmed Zewail ignore the real history of what minorities -- Jews, Christians, Alawites, Druse -- have had to endure from Sunni Muslims in Syria as elsewhere? Does he not know, or could ne not find out, that history? Does he not know that the only reason the Druse, and the Alawites, and the non-Arab Armenian Christians, have felt relatively safe in Syria over the past half-century is because the Alawite rulers ruthlessly suppressed the Ikhwan, that is the very Sunni Muslims who took Islam most to heart?
Perhaps Ahmed Zewail is, like so many Muslims who fancy themselves seculariss and liberals, in the end incapable of recognizing what Islam teaches, what the attitudes and atmospherics of societies dominated by Muslims, suffused by Islam, are really like. He, after all, has lived for many decades in the West. He's been favored in that West, and made the most of its freedoms. But he still can't bring himself to recognize what ails, and what explains the many failures of, Muslim societies.
He reminds me a bit of Shirin Whateverhernameis, another Nobel Prize winner, in Iran, who while able to withstand the pressure from the Islamic rulers, and while making special efforts to protect and defend the rights of women in that awful society, continues to pretend that the mistreatment of women is not connected to the clear teachings of Islam, but is, she maintains unconvincingly, merely a "cultural" matter. And those liberals and secularists in the Muslim world who cannot dare to analyze what Islam does to the minds of men, and who become furious at the mere mention of Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ali Sina, and Ibn Warraq, are not true liberals, not true secularists, for they remain wilfully self-deceived about the texts and tenets of Islam, and in misstating to the Infiidels the nature and history of Islamic societies, and the treatment of non-Muslim minorities in those societies, they are engaged, nolens-volens, in a propaganda Jihad on behalf of Islam. They may not think that is what they are doing, but that in the end is the only way to characterize their mispresentation of the truth.
Ahmed Zewail no doubt would be appalled by that description of what he has written. Let him be appalled. It happens to be true.