UK: Bad news for leftists!
Yes, Islam really is to blame for systemic poverty and oppression.
[Owen] Jones has a point. It is unfair to denounce ‘Muslims’ as intellectual failures: two Muslims have won Nobel prizes in science. And lively sophisticated Malaysia is a world away from dismal violent Yemen or Libya or Syria or, now, Egypt.
But Jones studiously ignores the key point Dawkins was getting at, namely the fact that Islam as such in its mainstream Middle Eastern form is a powerful force for holding back society. Jones needs to get out more and read the Arab Human Development Report of 2002. The calamitous results of generalised backwardness across the Middle East were explained bluntly by Arabs themselves. They identified freedom, knowledge and the subordinate position of women as the major factors.
But wait. What underlying force creates that climate in which freedom, knowledge and the role of women are in such a dismal state? Let’s not mention the I-word:
Most secularists believe that the pervasive Islamisation of society, which in several Arab countries has largely replaced the frightening militancy of the 1980s and early 1990s, has played a significant part in stifling constructive Arab thought.
From their schooldays onwards, Arabs are instructed that they should not defy tradition, that they should respect authority, that truth should be sought in the text and not in experience. Fear of fawda (chaos) and fitna (schism) are deeply engrained in much Arab-Islamic teaching. “The role of thought”, wrote a Syrian intellectual “is to explain and transmit…and not to search and question.”
Such tenets never held back the great Arab astronomers and mathematicians of the Middle Ages. But now, it seems, they hold sway, discouraging critical thought and innovation and helping to produce a great army of young Arabs, jobless, unskilled and embittered, cut off from changing their own societies by democratic means.