by Sami Alrabaa
Arab regime leaders and their affiliates swim in wealth (luxury private palaces with the finest and mot expensive man has ever produced, private jets, i.e. flying palaces), ignore the poor, repress the population, blame local backwardness on the West, and support fundamentalist Muslims.
Arab regimes have always been despotic and totalitarian. They have never believed in egalitarianism, economic opportunity, religious tolerance, and self-criticism. They have used medieval forces of governance: tribalism, especially in the Arabian Peninsula, authoritarian traditionalism, and most recently Islamic fundamentalism. Arab schools and universities turn out more graduates in Islamic studies, falsified history, and void nationalism than in science, engineering, and medicine. Critical studies and scientific research have screeched to a halt. The majority of Arab professors translate works and research done in the West and claim they are their own. Empirical work is almost non-existent. Students graduate without having the slightest clue about what is really going on in the Western world. The only things the majority of them know about the West is that it produces good car, but it is decadent; people drink much alcohol and women sleep with everybody.
Billions of barrels of oil, fertile land along the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates valleys, which in the past helped creating great civilizations, yield an excess of misery rather than riches like in North Korea or Hong Kong, for instance. Billions of dollars are squandered on armament and a lavish life-style enjoyed by corrupt despotic rulers of the Arab world and their affiliates. Totalitarian oil rich Arab grandees from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Emirates, and Qatar, who plunder their countries' resources, invest their billions of dollars in the West. Countries like Egypt and Jordan, which receive billions of dollars as aid from the America and Europe, spend the money on strengthening their regimes.
Tragically, prospects of improvement are dismal. Arab government spokesmen and the predominantly state-owned media entertain the illiterate and semi-literate population with anti-Western and anti-Israel propaganda.
The Arab media are a great charade and a simulacrum of the West. They lack life-giving spirit and self-criticism. The state-controlled media and the private ones, owned by rich Arabs affiliated to Arab regimes, like the Saudi tycoon Al Waleed Bin Talal, give the appearance of being modern and Western. But their reporters and anchormen and women are by no means journalists by Western standards of free and truthful inquiry.
For example, while BBC makes a point of talking to the victims of a suicide bomber in Baghdad and Kabul, al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and the other Arab TV stations would never interview the mother of an Israeli blown apart by a Palestinian terrorist. To add insult to injury, Arab journalists call Palestinians who clash with Israeli forces and die: Martyrs.
Most Arab television stations would never broadcast freewheeling debates, like Meet the Press style talk show permitting criticism of the government, or critical, liberal interpretation of Islam. Commercial TV stations quibble over a high degree of anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism and obfuscate criticism of official Islam.
Creative novelists, cartoonists, and bloggers like Najeeb Mahfouz, Salman Rushdie, Flemming Rose, and Alaa Fattah received death Fatwas (ruling) for blasphemy. Four Egyptian editors of four Egyptian newspapers, Ibrahim Issa, Adel Hammouda, Wael el-Ebrashi and Abdel-Halim Qandil were sentenced to a year's hard labour for offending the president, Hosni Mubarak. Instead of getting a prize for literary creativity and civic courage, critics receive a prison or death fatwa and a mob at their courtyard.
No wonder that a culture of zero-creativity and silence is pervading the Arab world. On the other hand, a culture of demagogy is spreading across the Arab world. Prime examples are the Islamist preacher Amr Khaled and the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darweesh. The Arab current furor is scripted, whipped up, and mercurial.
The Arab regimes and their media focus on and exaggerate the number of Arabs killed in clashes with the Israeli army and the coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, they deliberately ignore the thousands of Shiites, and Kurds butchered by Saddam Hussein and Hafez Asad of Syria.
The murder of some100.000 Muslims in Algeria by fellow Muslims, not by infidels, did not provoke so much indignation and violent demonstrations among Muslims as the so-called "Mohammed cartoons" did, although according to the holy Koran, "If someone kills a human being, it is as if he had killed the whole mankind."
All the conferences held in the Arab world about alleged Western bias and media distortion, and all those open-letters signed by Muslim leaders to Christians for dialogue cannot hide the self-inflicted catastrophe – and the growing ostracism and suspicion towards Arab regimes and evil forces in the Middle East. The Arab-Muslim message: "You accept our Shari'a or die" will never be accepted by the world community. The gloat over that Islam is engulfing the world is mere self-deception, vulgar and hallucination, at best. What is engulfing the world is extremism and terrorism. And the world will never accept a religion that approves of bloodshed and carnage.
Yet, in sum, Arab regimes remain objectively powerful, at least in one respect, not because of greater courage, higher IQs, or stronger economy, but because of their unique skills in cultivating fanatics and breeding terrorists. The cultivated West has not yet been able to find an antidote to the culture of terrorism. That is an area where Arabs and Muslims have proved to be superior.