Over 1000 people killed in Iraq in January
More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in January, official data revealed on Friday as security forces grapple with a surge in bloodshed and a standoff with militants.
Europeans suffered from intellectual autarchy in the Middle Ages for reasons known to all. The Enlightenment played an important role in saving the West from this terrible scourge, which still dominates intellectual and cultural issues in the Arab and Islamic world. It seems that the East is different from the West. While democracy was born in the former by means of a normal delivery, and while the transition in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union came naturally, more or less, with a few exceptions like Yugoslavia and Romania, the birth of modernity and the establishment of real democracies in our region seem worse than Caesarean deliveries. Whenever Arab and Muslim intellectuals try to open a window for change, the oppressive ideology and cultural practices of some sectors of society have blocked the roads and ports and kept the light of modernity and a civilized way of life away on the pretext of remaining true to our religion and our heritage.
We consider China to be the best model of an Eastern state that has overcome the stiffness of reason and intellectual autarchy. Because China has opened its doors to the ideas of new cultural, scientific and economic challenges, even though its Communist ideology kept it closed off from the outside world for decades. Now compare China to North Korea and the Islamic world to understand what we are trying to say in this regard. Of course, North Korea has tremendous potential to rebuild quickly if the people are given the opportunity to open up to the outside world.
I don’t want to be pessimistic, but our situation really is unique in the world: it would seem that we are living in the past. In addition, the flaws in the overall intellectual performance of Arabs and Muslims in terms of activities, effectiveness, and their role in forming and formulating the current global civilization make ours very fragile compared to the rest of the world.
We are familiar with the crises in the Islamic world and with the suffering of its people; we have lived the struggle to maintain cultural values and our inability to integrate into the modern democratic system. The time has come to acknowledge our failure in giving adequate room for the sort of free thought and culture that gave rise to the great civilizations of the modern era.
This has led our societies to the dire situation they find themselves in today; to the bullying and oppression of men in the name of religion; to our failure to deal with religion and heritage objectively. We have lost focus on our future and consider our ancient culture to be heaven-sent and thus as something that must be neither altered or renewed. With that, we have rejected freedom and pluralism and embraced restrictions of thought and the mind.
We need to focus on the future of our people and take steps in the right direction; we need to separate religion from the state. I am certain that the best way to fulfill this kind of system is to have a strong elected authority which can shrug off governmental and religious mind control—for our region has always been used to control minds and guarantee their loyalty to authoritarian regimes.
However, despite the pessimistic outlook on the reality of our situation, there are still some grounds for optimism in some areas like Egypt, Tunisia and the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, which clearly indicate a definite desire for change on the part of Islamic peoples.
I am proud to bear witness as a citizen of Kurdistan to the economic achievements and progress that has been made towards the co-existence of different ethnic and religious groups. I bear witness to the freedom of opinion we enjoy, to the employment opportunities available to most inhabitants of the Region, and to the reconstruction of all vital facilities since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003.