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Friday, February 20, 2004
One of my favorite sites on the web is MEMRI. It gives me hope to read a lot of the stories over there. More and more people are talking about rights and freedoms in the Middle East everyday and as long as people are talking, progress will be made towards those goals.
As more and more people come to realize how life could be better, not just the same old propaganda the government puts out, blaming others and everyone but themselves. People's desire for more rights and freedoms will grow as word spreads from one town to the next.
Even up until a few years ago, would you have heard things like this coming out of the Middle Eastern media?
"It is unfortunate that many Muslim religious scholars have a mindset that belongs to the distant past. In earlier times, Muslim rulers called for translations of Greek and Roman works in order to use their knowledge. Building on what they learned, Muslims were pioneers in astrology, medicine, geology, physics, mathematics, and biology at a time when Europe was struggling in the Dark Ages".
"We have come up with tourism as a new economic venture in addition to oil. What? Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination? A visitor interested in coming to this region might think of Dubai, Oman, or Bahrain, but certainly not Saudi Arabia. For starters, we do not issue tourist visas. The only visas are for business and work. Even journalists sometimes have to wait for months before finally getting a visa from one of our embassies abroad."
"Other disturbing signs that reflect our intolerance and rigidity appear in our streets and our malls - faceless people on signs. The faces of men in an advertisement are covered with paint, tape, or plaster. Others, displaying women, are the same. Even the faces of children are blotted out - and let's not forget about women's products sold in pharmacies. And then there is sexual segregation and what almost amounts to a phobia when men and women are together. How many times has a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight been delayed because stewards and stewardesses are busy rearranging seats because a man and a woman - for cultural reasons - feel they cannot sit next to each another?"
"We must begin by looking carefully at our education system. We must look at textbooks that do not encourage tolerance and teachers who take advantage of their jobs to spread poisonously destructive bile and venom. "
"Imagine a 22 year-old college student whose ultimate desire is to become a suicide bomber! The killer of scores of people who believed that not only would she go to heaven but that the act would also be good for the country since it would plant fear in the hearts of infidels, causing them to leave the country! This same college student with her twisted ideas may one day be a mother, responsible for rearing a few members of another generation of Saudis. It is a frightening possibility but also a very real one which must be confronted and overcome."I hope you get my point, some of these things were thought before, but now they are said in the open, put in newspapers and discussed between families. Times are changing in the Middle East, the hard-liners are trying to hold on to power while new exciting ideas are being exchanged though out the population, ideas of freedom and civil rights and these are powerful ideas indeed.
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