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Tuesday, 19 February 2013
When An Arab Denounces The Arabs For Their Backwardness, Etc. What Is It He Can't Say?

Every so often, at,  you can see a video of an Arab journalist, or professor, or political figure, who denounces the sorry condition of his fellow Arabs, deplores their miserable state, their plight, their wretchedness, their backwardness, their conspiracy-mentality, their everything. But what lies behind this vehemence? What is it that that speaker, brave as he may be or seem, cannot speak about?

Consider, for example, this denunciation of the Arabs by an Algerian journalist. , Khaled Omar Ben Guiga. He notes that the replacement of despots has not bettered the condition of Arabs, that the regimes or governments or semi-anarchies that have replaced the previous despots are not an improvement and may even be worse than what preceded. He concludes bleakly that the ,Arab peoples are, in his view, headed toward "Defeat, Decline, and Even Suicide."

Or consider the diagnosis of Arab society by  a Tunisian doctor who, back in 1982, published a book, David Pryce-Jones notes in The Closed Circle, "with the sardonic title" Why The Arabs Will Go To Mars. Here's his own summary: "The Arab despises himself, despises his reality, because he knows that the real facts go against what he is asked to think of them. Politics, news, intellectual life, is a weave of lies."

That Tunisian doctor was Moncef Marzouki, now the leader of the secularists in Tunisia, and a member of the Tunisian government, who has admitted that he has had to compromise with Ennahda, for that "Islamist" party (meaning: the party of those who take Islam most to heart, for "Islamism" is only a word to describe Islam as received, and acted upon, by such  Believers, who differ only in the present level of their passion and enthusiasm for the faith, and willingness to act upon both, and not in the content of that faith which are perfectly mainstream (in either the Sunni or Shi'a versions), has been unable to act to assure the triumph of his own secular (meaning: those who want to constrain Islam and its most fervent believers, for they sense the danger to freedom as they understand the word).

But both Omar Ben Guiga, and Moncef Marzouki, and many others, cannot say what some of them, if they were quite sincere with themselves, would have to say: the misery of Arab misrule, economic backwardness, social injustice, intellectual impoverishment, moral squalor, comes from Islam itself. This some of them cannot allow themselves to believe, because it would then call into question everything about their own societies, suffused as they are with Islam. And others allow themselves to believe this bleak truth, or truths,  but do not express openly  their thoughts because they know it would render them pariahs, and possibly subject to threats of death.

So those Arabs who see that something is wrong, but do not live in the West, and therefore cannot speak the truths that such people as Wafa Sultan or Ayaan Hirsi Ali speak, are not to be taken at face value. Look behind their denunciation of "the Arabs" to what they are really semaphoring: a denunciation of Islam.

Posted on 02/19/2013 11:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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