October 20, 2003

UN Report: US War on Terror Radicalizes Arabs

"The U.S.-led war on terror has radicalized more Arabs angry both with the West and their autocratic rulers who are bent on curbing their political rights, a U.N.-commissioned study released Monday showed."

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1020-08.htm

Published on Monday, October 20, 2003 by Reuters
UN Report: US War on Terror Radicalizes Arabs
by Suleiman al-Khalidi

AMMAN, Jordan - The U.S.-led war on terror has
radicalized more Arabs angry both with the West and
their autocratic rulers who are bent on curbing their
political rights, a U.N.-commissioned study released
Monday showed.

The Arab Human Development Report 2003 said Arab
countries lagged other regions in dissemination of
knowledge. Readership of books was relatively limited,
education dictated submission rather than critical
thought, the Arabic language was in crisis.


Dozens of Indonesian Muslims hold up anti-U.S. banners
during a protest in front of the U.S. embassy in
Jakarta on October 17, 2003 prior to a scheduled visit
by President Bush on Oct. 22. The U.S.-led war on
terror has radicalized more Arabs angry both with the
West and their autocratic rulers who are bent on
curbing their political rights, a U.N.-commissioned
study released Monday showed. Photo by Supri/Reuters


The report, launched in Amman, blamed an absence of
"effective and peaceful channels for dealing with
injustices" for pushing radical political groups to
seek change by violence.

Rima Khalaf Hunaidi, the top U.N. official behind the
team of Arab intellectuals who wrote the report, said
anti-Arab sentiment in the West after the September
11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities was a further factor
radicalizing Arabs.

The U.N. Assistant Secretary General and regional
director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Arab states
said educational opportunities were further limited as
an anti-Arab backlash made young Arabs retreat from
studying in the United States.

Arab student numbers in the United States dropped
between 1999 and 2002 by an average 30 percent,
Hunaidi added.

Arab disenchantment was deepened by autocratic rulers
who were given a "spurious justification for curbing
freedoms on the pretext of fighting terrorism" by
Washington's war on terror.

The report, on Arabs by Arabs, cited wider censorship
-- from restricting internet access to suppressing
publication of material deemed encouraging to
"terrorism."

Non-governmental groups suffered more legal and
practical constraints in 2003, while progress toward
women's empowerment regressed in some countries and
slightly progressed in others.

OUTDATED UNIVERSITIES

The U.N. report that focused on addressing challenges
of modernity illustrated how far the 270 million Arabs
lagged behind other regions in 'acquisition of
knowledge'.

The report said even a best selling novel sold on
average only 5,000 copies compared to hundreds of
thousands elsewhere.

In general, the usual print run for novels ranges from
a meager 1,000 to 3,000 copies. The number of books
published in the Arab world did not exceed 1.1 percent
of world production though Arabs constitute 5 percent
of the world population.

It cited official educational curricula in Arab
countries that " bred submission, obedience,
subordination and compliance rather than free critical
thinking."

The U.N. also touched on the state of Arab
universities, decrying lack of autonomy and the direct
control of governments that ran them on political
whims. Arab universities were overcrowded with old
laboratories and poor libraries. Enrolment figures
were a political gesture to appease society more than
a product of educational needs. The Arabic language
was in crisis, as it confronted the challenges of
globalization. No more than 10,000 books were
translated into Arabic over the entire millennium,
equivalent to the number translated every year into
Spanish.

Research and Development in the Arab world did not
exceed 0.2 percent of Gross National Product (GNP).
Fewer than one in 20 Arab university students were
pursuing scientific disciplines, compared to one in
five in South Korea.

The number of telephone lines in Arab countries was
barely one fifth of that in developed countries.

Access to digital media was also among the lowest in
the world. There are 18 computers per 1,000 people
compared to a global average of 78. Only 1.6 percent
of over 270 million Arabs have internet access, one of
the lowest ratios in the world, the report said.


Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd

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Posted by richard at October 20, 2003 10:06 PM