February 17, 2010

Obama’s agenda for the Muslim world trivializes its problems

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010   No comments


President Barack Obama delivering his State of the Union address on Captitol Hill, Jan. 27, 2010.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Given the economic hardships that we--as a nation--are facing, it is understandable if the president dedicates more than ninety percent of his state of the union address to domestic issues. But if he felt the need to address the US-Muslim world relations, he should have done that appropriately and imaginatively; or leave out the subject altogether.
In his 7400 words speech, President Obama used 15 words to identify the problems and prescribe solutions for the Muslim world saying, “We’re working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science and education and innovation;” as if those were the most critical challenges or obstacles Muslims face.
Fifty-seven nations around the world constitute the Organization of Islamic Conference, which accounts for more than one-fifth of the world population (1.57 billion people). Most of the active wars in which the U.S. is engaged today are taking place in the Muslim world. OIC member states sell America an average of $200 billion worth of goods in the last several years, $147 billion of which in the form of crude oil, gas and refined fuels. A large percentage of more than $900 billion of US yearly export makes its way to Muslim countries. A community of this significance must have more serious problems than indifference to science, education, and innovation. The chronic problem from which the Muslim world is suffering is not science and learning; it is foolish governance that is the root cause of a brain drain.
There are knowledgeable, educated, and innovative Muslims all over the world. In fact, in America alone, one finds thousands of Muslims holding the highest honors in medicine, engineering, physics, mathematics, social sciences, and humanities, and the arts. Similar talents are contributing to societies in Europe, Japan, Australia, and South America. Few are working and inventing in few Muslim countries.
The majority of Muslim scientists, however, leave their homelands because of political corruption, abuse of power, and tyrannical governments. It is simply difficult for an educated person with an advanced degree to live in a country where his life and family are under constant threat unless he aligns himself with the ruling clique. It is even more difficult for a person to live within a system that subordinates the learned ones and glorifies brute, uneducated, tyrants who happen to have a monopoly on guns and institutions of subjugation.
The problem in the Muslim world, then, is not Muslims’ apathy to science, education and innovation. It is their leaders’ lack of commitment to their citizens’ inalienable right to respect, dignity, and responsible governance. And that is what the U.S. should be promoting in mutually respectful ways; not through wars.

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