What is Really Wrong with the Middle East?

I have written a book review in what is now my monthly book review slot for Executive Magazine on Brian Whitaker’s new book What is Really Wrong with the Middle East. It is a really interesting book that certainly made me think about the issues of the Middle East in a much broader way. Click at the bottom to read the whole thing on the Executive website:

There are many people in the Middle East who hold an opinion on the region’s ills, but whatever their view, very few choose introspection over finger pointing. Brian Whitaker, the former Middle East editor of The Guardian, in his new book “What’s Really Wrong With The Middle East” aims to realign the trend of shifting blame. “The problems of the Middle East are always someone else’s fault,” writes Whitaker. “While the West blames dictators and extremists, Arabs often turn the tables, blaming centuries of foreign interference. Both sides are right, up to a point, but they both also ignore a large part of the picture.”

The picture that Whitaker offers after interviewing “intelligent, independent minded people” (meaning not government officials or religious extremists) covers four central issues: knowledge, equal rights, secularism and citizenship. In surveying these four topics, Whitaker leaves no doubt that there is something deeply wrong with the region, underlining his views with a damning array of statistics. Whitaker explains that, “Arab societies have, in the past, [balanced] science and Islam very successfully. But many of Islam’s contemporary manifestations are backward looking and anti-intellectual, while the high value placed on conformity in Arab societies is suffocating change.”



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