Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Arabs close the book on reading

Well, more like it's been slammed shut for them -- and then burned. Then again, if not for fundamentalist Islam protecting Arabs from the corruptions of the outside world, who would? The Chicago Tribune reports:
Across the Arab world, a region of 280 million people, a best seller is a book that sells just 5,000 copies. Translation of foreign works into Arabic lags far behind translations into many other languages: Five times as many books are translated each year into Greek, a language spoken by just 11 million people. Some of Cairo's most-storied old booksellers have given up entirely and been replaced by cell-phone vendors, clothing shops and shoe stores.

This is why the opinion of the oft-cited "Arab Street" means little to me, it's mostly indoctrinated and certainly not an opinion formed with any insight beyond what the Mullah/Shia/Cultural Ministry have allowed to get in. With over 20 different government standards of information censoring it's a wonder any books are published in the Arab world, and one can only imagine the bland uniformity of those that do get a pass. Perhaps what is most disturbing though, is the near infinitesimal number of books that are ever translated into Arabic. This is the inevitable product of an oppressive regime, and as I've noted here before it is this dictatorial oppression that culturally, economically, and intellectually isolates the populous. I'm still waiting to hear, what, other than the core values of democracy, free speech, and human rights can solve this. The whole Arab region is mired in stagnation. They are denied a real chance to personally develop their talents, innovate, or obtain a worldly education. Never a chance to push themselves, never a chance to achieve their potential, and never a taste of hope. That is the real tragedy.


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