This must have become a tradition while I was asleep or inattentive, espoused by illustrious people, princes and organisations in the Muslim world; in short, they hold that the problems that Islam faces is nothing but a Western media smear campaign, rather than recognising that there are fundamental problems with the doctrine, or at least how it is currently interpreted and applied and working toward addressing these problems, real or perceived, in a methodical and scientific manner.
This does not bode well for the future of Islam and Muslims. I can understand and just ignore it when this sort of thinking emanates from a deranged mufti here and there, but to have fifty seven Muslim countries actually believing that this is the correct way to go about correcting “our image” is disastrous:
Call to media tycoons
Riyadh: Muslim tycoons should buy stakes in global media outlets to help change anti-Muslim attitudes around the world, ministers from Islamic countries heart at a conference in Jeddah yesterday. Information ministers and officials meeting under the auspices of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the world’s largest Islamic body, said Islam faced vilification after the 9/11 attacks.
“Muslim investors must invest in the large media institutions of the world, which generally make considerable profits, so that they have the ability to effect their policies via their administrative boards,” OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said.
GDN :: 14 Sept, ’06 (pdf)
Money can buy a lot of things, of course, and influence is its bed partner. But this is a case best characterised as dogs barking up the wrong tree.
My humble advice to the OIC is simply this: save your money, it won’t make any difference if you propose to use it to control what is being said here and there, it just will not stop the criticisms which pain you. Spend your money instead on funding good educational programs for the young and work with long term perspectives to correct the vilification that our religion attracts from the whole world.
A good way would possibly be the scrapping of all those “Quran memorisation” competitions through which you expend an enormous amount of money, and change that competition to “Progressive Quran Interpretation” competitions instead and this is the time to do it as Ramadhan is now only a few days away. That will ensure that the self examination will start and we hope that people will start debating things without resorting to violence and calling each other heretics.
Using money to control editorials just won’t do what you want. What I can guarantee you that it will do if used in this sense; however, is turn whoever is not against Islam in the world against us!
Use the nut that God gave you for goodness’ sake. 57 countries and conferences and this is the recommendation?
i agree w/ you 100%.
Best sensible advice I’ve ever read out of any country in the Middle East, except for some of the more pragmatic hadiths of Muhammad. Once again, Mahmood, your personal ethic of self-critical introspection is wonderful to see.
‘Be free,’ Mahmood.
Mahmood, although I think there is something to be said for improving our image, it should be done hand-in-hand with finding real solutions to our problems. Unemployment, frustration, poverty, loss of hope, ignorance and the countless problems we suffer, cannot be brushed under the carpet with a media campaign. I am dissappointed that this was the OIC’s recommendation. Obviously the way forward is a much steeper-upward climb than I thought.
The problem I have is not with the subject. Its your continuous fleeting judgements and comments you make based on GDN articles. I question your views simply because you give full credibility to everything that is written in this propoganda rag. They tailor articles to suit their desired agenda with decorative quotes here and there. How about you get your hand on the full OIC report and then tell us what you think Mahmood?
I agree with Anon that we really need to see the full OIC report. ‘Canned’ news is perfect for people who just want to be updated about events. They do not have the time to look into the true nature of events. Of course, writing it out or reading it out, we will have an encyclopedia published every day or the news on the TV will be 20 hours long. 😉
However, I do believe all Muslim states need to get their houses in order.
We have many issues that are troubling our society, Lujayn mentioned
many of them.
Our leaders and our peoples require the WILL to do the right thing.
Funny, here in the US the problem is actually the opposite. We have the media, already owned by extreme liberals, run by wanna be preachers, who keep trying to indoctrinate the masses into believing that all religion is bad, and that the one true god is the state. I cannot see how a plan to purchase any stock in these media giants can succeed. They will fight you tooth and nail, and claim you are not allowed to have a god, and much less to tell others through their precious networks. Good luck trying though…and if they succeed, maybe others will follow!
note to Mahmood: I am still having trouble seeing some of the writing because the left panel is covering some of the right-most letters in the main body section…not a biggie, but you might want to look at it. Also, you still have not specified the kind of bulbs you want…
Can you take a screenshot and email it to me please Patty? What browser (and version) do you use when you see this problem?
I’ll email you the list, much thanks!
Anon you’re more than welcome to question my views. Don’t expect me to lose much sleep as a result though.
I do not give the GDN any credence at all actually, because I know that this rag does nothing more than reprint verbatim what is on the news wires, as such, this “snippet” is most probably fed to it and hundreds more publications as the “end result,” summary if you will of the OIC’s resolution.
This is further supported by Al-Waqt quoting our dear Minister of Information parroting the above and embellishing it a bit.
Last point: I’m not a political analyst. This blog is not made for this purpose. It is purely a personal space which I choose to share with you and I highly encourage you NOT to take my opinions as gospel, you have your own opinions and if yours and mine converge, then that’s fantastic, if they diverge, then it’s not like we missed a chance to cure cancer.
So get over yourself.
Patty: Funny, here in the US the problem is actually the opposite. We have the media, already owned by extreme liberals, run by wanna be preachers, who keep trying to indoctrinate the masses into believing that all religion is bad, and that the one true god is the state.
Oh oh your not going to start bashing liberals are you? The problem in the media in the US isnt who own’s the media its that they are allowed to own to many media outlets. The FCC is in the process of hearings in preperation for allowing them to own even more outlets backed by the Bush administration. Now thats funny Bush backing the liberal media. 🙂
Bill, no, not bashing. If the shoe fits…
(BTW, it is you’re as in you are, not “your” as in your sister, and too many, not “to” as in going to the movies…sorry…pet peeves).
There’s no doubt that the media in this country is left leaning. And there’s no doubt that, for many many years, we’ve been subjected to this liberal leaning media, trying to teach us how to think and what to think. I consider myself mentally stronger because I’ve been able to survive this indoctrination a-la soviet style. This is why I admire Mahmood so much. He too has been able to survive his own society’s pulls, and learned to think for himself, and not be told what and how to think.
Patty I agree with you about Mahmood and thinking for yourself. My point was that with fewer people owning media outlets we are going to be presented with fewer points of view.
Listening to music stations on the radio you can see the influence of 1 company owning 1600+ stations. Less deversity and standardized formats with less local news.
Mahmood The money is certainly there to do this. You think these great thinkers read arab papers and watch arab tv and analize the content? Not a bit of a media smear campaign against the west there.
The inability of leaders world wide to look in a mirror and see whats really there dooms us all east and west.
I look in the mirror I see a young hunk instead of a old overweight readneck beer drinking hippie. Doomed I tell you doomed 🙂
It didn’t take long for them to forget The Arab Human Development Report 2002
Milter: And all the subsequent editions, going on to 2005.
Mo: You hit it on the nail-head. We still live in our dream palaces, to paraphrase Fouad Ajami. We are being left behind, with little minds whiling in religious pontifications, and a belief that we can buy everything, while the rest of the world is creating knowledge and is advancing.
Our best minds are deserting our cess-pits of ignorance, to go where they can breath and create. Woe unto us.
I’m not very optimistic that the muslim community will start thinking critically re the Koran, and here’s the reason. Here in advanced dynamic secular Christian america, we have a large fraction of the population that are “fundamentalist Christians.” These people are totally resistant to anything that isnt “the Bible says…” The percentage of the population that believes in “intelligent design” is > 50%. The belief that the world was created in toto 6000 years ago is exrtremely popular. And dont even say “evolution.” And so on and soforth.
So I am left with the depressing conclusion that there’s something opiate-like about religions that encourages crazily literal readings. We certainly dont have creative interpretation of the bible contests and I dont think you will either. Too bad.
who keep trying to indoctrinate the masses into believing that all religion is bad, and that the one true god is the state.
Umm…all religion is bad, expecially in the 21st century, Patty. 🙂 Back in the old times when life was full of strife and backbreaking labour, I can see religion come in to provide some comfort. But we would hope that humanity is an advanced civilization by now, or at least trying to be. Religion has no place here, other than being a cultural curiosity, and a personal choice. Nothing more.
Of course, unless one were to come into some parts of the middle east, where everywhere you go that has religion mixed up in politics, you get an erosion of civil liberties. I do not know of one place on Earth – even history, that you can point out to, where you had a religious-oriented society that didnt suffer from violations of civil liberties. There is no place for it.
Now some of us here in the middle east would like to end this dispicable trend, and replace religious doctrine with secular thinking. This means that there should be no semblance of religion, no inkling of it, no smell of it, in any government corridors or buildings. This is the ideal that we are fighting for.
The American right wing, for the most part, is not with us in this fight. They are against us. They want religion and all its “niceties” mixed up with politics. We dont. Sorry, but no common ground here.
How do you see that happening without a lot of people being killed?
I had hopes of seeing Bahrain leading the way for the rest of The Middle East, but I’m not so sure anymore. The attemps that have been made so far to intruduce a secular form of democracy in the Muslim countries haven’t been very successfull, so far. As far as I can see, anybody trying to establish a political party based on secular values doesn’t stand a chance. Even the parties that are supposed to be “leftists” use, or are foced to, use religion as part of their ideology to attract followers.
Doesn’t that mean that religion is (and has been) such a strong part of the vast majority of most people’s lives that they won’t vote for anybody without agreeing with his/her religious stance?
The marxist ideology only existed and influenced people as a major factor in world politics for about 70 years. Yet, a lot of people had to die when it collapsed.
Islam has existed and created the guide lines for muslims for almost 1400
years. How do you see the Muslim world accept secularity without a bloody fight?
The sad truth is if that change is to happen, then sacrifices will be made, in their hundreds, probably thousands or more. Painful, yes of course, but if the intention is to reach a position in time where there is the rule of law, equality, democracy, and respect for human rights, then this is probably – sadly – the only way to do it.
There is an alternative of course: seculars just migrate in droves out of the Arab and Muslim countries and go integrate within countries of their choice which are secular and never look back, or just be back once in a while to “touch base with their roots”. The problem with this model of course is manifold, least of which is that people just give up and give in to religious nuts and their cohorts and regress these countries even deeper into darkness because the minute resistance to this trend has opted to just give up and leave where they came from.
My thinking is more and more leaning toward that.
Mahmood, you wrote:
I’d be happy to see you and your family here in Denmark 🙂
But if you think you can air your views here freely without any consequences, you may be in for a bit of a surprise.
Naser Khader , a Muslim member of the Danish Parliament, has been trying to promote ideas like yours and the result is that he is now under round the clock police protection.
And guess where the threats are coming from?
How do you see that happening without a lot of people being killed?
Umm … have I indicated otherwise?
Being a European yourself, I would imagine that you are aware of all the sacrifices that your forefathers made over the almost one millenia of dark ages that engulfed the continent. So you had the dark ages set in and almost 1000 years later, Copernicus and Galileo were still being harrassed by the church. And by the time John Locke came about and inserted some semblance of rationality into the system slaves were still being shipped into the port of York and repressed across the world. Some time later about 600,000 people died just trying to make some other people understand that slavery actually sucks, and they still didnt get it. It wasnt until the age of rock and roll that they finally got emancipated. Fully.
So count the years Milter. How many centuries between the burning cinder blocks of Rome’s remenants till Elvis’s peanut butter and banana sandwiches? Or maybe you would like to count pints of blood instead?
So in light of the above Mr Milter, do you see how…
I had hopes of seeing Bahrain leading the way for the rest of The Middle East, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not so sure anymore.
…is a ridiculous thing to say? You say you had “hopes of seeing Bahrain leading the way..etc” Im sorry – “hopes of seeing”?? Hopes of seeing what Mr Milter? Seeing how you want freedom which has historically taken root in societies over a period of 1500 years make its mark in 10? *chuckle* Are you serious?
A child will reach puberty in about 10, 11 years. Human civilization and societies have progressed over a millenia. Now you want to measure human progress on the scale that it takes a kid to grow pubic hair? heh. Thats ridiculous.
“Seeing how you want freedom which has historically taken root in societies over a period of 1500 years make its mark in 10? *chuckle* Are you serious?”
As usual Ibn is right; there was no viable society in Bahrain 1500 years ago.
There are very few viable societys at the present time much less 1500 years ago.
1 : capable of living; especially : having attained such form and development as to be normally capable of surviving outside the mother’s womb
Mom being Islam it doesnt look like it will happen untill there can be a seperation of church and state.
2 : capable of growing or developing
Again it doesnt seem to be happening. See 3
3 a : capable of working, functioning, or developing adequately b : capable of existence and development as an independent unit c (1) : having a reasonable chance of succeeding (2) : financially sustainable
Oil money gives financial sustainability in the short term but if middle east goverments dont realize that educating and giving their people a true voice in their countrys futures they are going to be another Africa.
There is such a intelligent voice from the middle east on this blog I wonder why change hasnt happened by now. Then I look at my country and see the same problems.
You have made it very clear several times that you want to see an end to the power of the mullahs, shayks, and imams in the Middle East. You are also saying that you are not alone in this wish.
What’s on the agenda at the discussions you’re having with your friends about this? Are they limited to cursing religion and political leaders, or do you also talk about how to bring about changes? And, if you do, do you prefer violent, revolutionary style solutions or are you also looking for less bloody approaches?
My thoughts about Bahrain are based, maybe a bit sentimentally, on the 11 years I spent there.
I saw the impact the arrival of Ayatollah Khomeini in the Middle East had on Bahrain, but I also saw the Christian church there and how it could exist peacefully next to the mosques.
Bahrain also had a relatively big group of well educated middle class people, which is normally one of the conditions for creating a stable society.
And with the arrival of BBC World News and CNN I thought: “Great, this will make people ask questions they never even thought existed”.
Unfortunately all this doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact, yet, on the tribal and religious values that still seem to be governing Bahrain.
And as for the 1500 years you are talking about, it doesn’t have to take that long. Other countries in Asia have made it in much less time. In my own country (Denmark), we got rid of the absolute monarchy in 1849 and women weren’t allowed to vote until 1915.
That again is a very long period. I would prefer to use the French Revolution and the wah-wah sound of Jimi Hendrix 🙂
Bahrain today is not where Europe was 1500 years ago, though some of the religious leaders would prefer it to be mentally were it was 1400 years ago.
I know, Milter; I was just being silly.
And with the arrival of BBC World News and CNN I thought: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Great, this will make people ask questions they never even thought existedÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Unfortunately all this doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to have had much of an impact, yet, on the tribal and religious values that still seem to be governing Bahrain.
Thats exactly the point Mr Milter. You speak of wanting to see an “an impact”. I am telling you – the “impact” will not happen in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, or 10 years. It will happen on an order of magnitude longer. Centuries, or decades. Thats the root – you will see that in history, change is not on an individual time scale – it is on a generational one. Thats why it is inaccurate and wishfull thinking to expect a society to change on such small time scales.
In my own country (Denmark), we got rid of the absolute monarchy in 1849 and women werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allowed to vote until 1915.
Why didnt Denmark abolish it in 1776 when the Americans decided to go constitutional instead of a Monarchy? Why the delay? Why didnt the Americans abolish slavery in 1776 when we heard the mantra of “all men are created equal” and not wait for so many decades? Why the delay?
You see? Its a ridiculous thing to ask.
A little bit of psychology will help you understand this further: When was the last time you convinced an 80 year old old-timer to change his religious and political views? In fact, when was the last time you convinced an old timer to have his eggs scrambled instead of sunnyside up in the morning without having your shin become well acqainted with his walking cane?
Psychologically – even neurologically, people become “set in their ways” as they age, and it becomes exponentially harder to break the mould their brain and mind are in as time goes by.
So imagine for a minute about 100 such old timers, say, 60 years of age, sitting around stroking their beards in a Bahraini parliament somewhere. One day a great discovery is made in the field of political science by the greatest minds, and it is discovered that monarchies and tribal laws blow, and that a constitutional republic with a government elected by the people is the way to go.
Now do you honestly believe Mr Milter, that those 100 parliamentarians are going to get up, throw their dentures into the air, and say: “Mashallah! Oh we had it wrong all along! Of course! Tomorrow, I am going to go to my tribal leader who ive known for a good 60 years of my life who also happened to help out my mother when her brother died and tell him the good news – that he is no longer needed, and neither is his silly political advice.”
Of course thats going to happen! And after that, maybe this parliamentarian will also learn how to figure skate, and do the splits!
*chuckle* 🙂 tsk tsk.
So you see Mr Milter, the reality is very different. It is more likely that this parliamentarian will brush off such discoveries as more “corruption”, and more likely that he will get on the podium and start bitching and moaning about the good old days when tribes ruled and matters were so much simpler to deal with. And if this parliamentarian survives for another 30 years, you will hear another 30 years of his bitching and moaning. And if his children are a little different, you will get 80 years of their opinions. Now his grandchildren are born, and are alot more diluted by him, but you will get about 80 years of them too. We’re up to 30 + 80 + 80 = 190 years already! (minus some overlap, so lets say 130 years instead). Already more than a century!
But gradually, very gradually after this great discovery, a generation will come closer and closer to this realization. And as much as I share your impatience on this subject, human societies are elephants. As much as I wish people would “just get it”, that is not the case. Our learning curves are not steep enough. And that just might be our damnation.
In the meantime, we can have a chitchat over some coffee with a parliamentarian’s kid somewhere. Or maybe write a book for them to read.
I don’t know how long it’s going to take, I never used any timeline for it. But, I hope people in the Middle East will try to learn from history. I know some people say humans never learn from history, but not to hope and try is wrong. That’s giving in to admitting we just behave like animals.
Sometimes reforms grow from the wishes of the people, sometimes from intellectuals and the upper class. Sometimes it is a combination of the two, like when the people of most communist countries said “NO!” in the late eighties.
When my own country decided to abolish absolute monarchy it was not because of an overwhelming demand from ordinary people. At that time “the people” didn’t have any say or influence at all. The changes came because intellectuals and influential people could see that leaving all power in the hands of one person (the king) could lead to disaster (which it did)!.
Yoy still haven’t said anything about what you see as the best way of moving forward with as little violence as possible. Just saying: “We have to get rid of the mullahs” is not enough. You must also have an idea of how to get rid of their influence and at the same time time leaving them a place in the “new order” That way everybody will win.
Have you heard of Ahmad Al-Baghdadi ?
In the Middle East I think reforms can only start with people of his calibre. A few more people of his kind and a bit more support for him would help a lot.
That is a good question, and I do not know – I havent thought about it in detail yet.
But it is important nonetheless. History also teaches us that the message can be as important or sometimes even less important than the tactics used to deliver it. (American blacks preached non-violence to correct the implmentation of the American constitution. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if they had used violence against the federal government instead, even when it was justified).
Anyway, I think for the moment, it is enough to write, and talk. Those are afterall unalienable rights for all. We can use that as a starting point. There are instances when violence is justified, but might be a bad strategic move. (Simply because you scare everyone around you).
In the short-term, I would wholeheartedly sanction and warrant blogs, underground periodicals, peacefull yet really annoying protests, satire, and leaflet bombs. 🙂
Patty, do you HONESTLY believe that tripe that gets spread around that there’s this big Liberal media conspiracy going on? In fact if I were to look at the news, it’s hardly left leaning, and is in general centered more towards the right.
Yeah, like going back to the “conservative” media is a good thing. Whatever.