The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) mourns the passing of Dr. Shaker Al-Nabulsi, a liberal university professor and author of over 40 books who was a courageous advocate for freedom and reform in the Arab and Muslim world. Over the years MEMRI has translated from Arabic and published many articles by Dr. Al-Nabulsi, as can be seen in the list below. His last article, on the subject of solving the crisis of terrorism, was published in the Saudi daily Al-Watan in October 2013.
October 18, 2013: “The Way Out Of The Severe Terrorism Crisis”
October 18, 2013: “The Way Out Of The Severe Terrorism Crisis”
In an article title “The Way Out Of The Severe Terrorism Crisis” published in the Saudi government daily Al-Watan, Jordanian liberal intellectual and author Shaker Al-Nabulsi discussed the ongoing support for terrorism by, inter alia, fatwas encouraging it, and called to establish a terrorism court for dealing with it. He wrote:
“Who is it who permitted some of them [i.e. preachers] to mount political pulpits and dispatch feverish fatwas, which are [later] fired from the mouths of bloodthirsty people from among the idle, the homeless, the ignorant, and those [who think they hold] admission tickets to paradise? [I am talking about those] who abandoned classroom, plow, factory machine, and employment office so that they could buy counterfeit admission tickets to heaven like the indulgences that the medieval Church sold to the same sort of ignorant dupes who have no faith in life.
“Undoubtedly, [a number of factors] – the Arab political void, the fragile Arab politics, the political parties’ failure, the vacuum in the Arab political discourse, the collapse and decline of most Arab political institutions, the Arab street’s lack of awareness, the absence of an active public opinion that can create change, the disrespect for the Arab mind (if there is such a thing) and the failure to use it, and the way in which impulse takes precedence over thought in the Arab world – all of these have made it possible for a few individuals to mount political pulpits in the Arab world, from east to west, in order to lead Arab political activity that is in essence a call for bloodshed and more bloodshed.
“This is clear proof that as a nation, we have become politically bankrupt. We have inherited this political bankruptcy and we bequeath it to our sons… We need an international political bank to rescue us from this bankruptcy…
“Most of the Arab regimes are incapable of restraining [these preachers] and cannot stop their activity – because some of this activity is aimed at benefiting those very regimes and strengthening their influence. The Arab political parties cannot join forces because of the extreme partisanship that predominates among them. There is no Arab street – only [Arabs who are] hungry, ignorant and exhausted, and who have lost all faith in the Arab political forces. So these ‘pulpit-mounters’ provide them with the only thing they want and [the only thing] that can alleviate their resentment and the oppression, hunger, neglect and plundering to which they are subjected by some of the regimes…
“The intellectual and political elites in the Arab world cannot stand against these [fatwa-issuers] for fear of the power they wield – for some of them maintain armed militias with blood on their hands that can behead any intellectual or politician who opposes them. The best proof of this might be the assassination of Lebanese [communist] thinkers Hussein Mroue and Mahdi ‘Amil, and Egyptian thinker Farag Foda, as well as the  assassination [attempt] against [Egyptian writer and philosopher] Naguib Mahfouz, the abduction of Egyptian journalist Reda Hilal, and other incidents. [Therefore,] most of the Arab voices opposing and attacking [these fatwa-issuers] reside in the West, far from the violence that they use against their opponents.
“So what should be done? One solution is for a vanguard of brave Arab intellectuals to draw up a progressive international communiqué, in 21st-century language, spirit, and logic. [They then must] submit it to the U.N. and ask the Security Council to discuss it and pass a resolution tasking the U.N. with establishing a Terrorism Court to prosecute anyone who calls for, engages in, or issues a fatwa encouraging or calling for terrorism – now that terrorism has become a global international problem that does not only concern the Arabs.
“Some will say, as usual, that [such a solution] internationalizes the Arab affairs and that Arab problems must be solved within the Arab homeland by Arabs. But no Arab problem has ever been solved within the Arab world… The Arab [debate] platforms will fill with preachers and pundits condemning colonialism, its forces and its history… and the satellite TV channels will fill with analysis, politicians, journalists, authors and artists who will prattle on and on about political issues. The Arab world will be in an uproar. So be it! When has the Arab world ever failed to calm down after an uproar?”
We as a nation have to get to the point where we can discriminate between people like Shaker (above) and people like Anwar Al Awlaki (below) and act on our better judgment. Until that happens, only a very few brave Muslims will dare call for reform. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_al-Awlaki) Until that happens, our prejudice will be blasted by the PC crowd and the UN. But this is as serious and important as the transition that America went through with slavery, rights for Negroes, and the civil war. Massachusetts led that fight, and Republican Senator Charles Sumner was beaten senseless while speaking on the floor of the Senate by a Democrat member of the House. Sumner never fully recovered.
There are few reformers like Shaker or Sumner. They are killed by their fellows. We have to protect them.
The civil war and those amendments and laws did not free many slaves. If we can believe the US Census, there were not very many slave owners or slaves relative to the population, only 1%. It was an overall change in attitude, a rectification. It became acceptable and even expected to reject slavery.
We are very far from such a rectification with Islam today. In fact, we have a President and an administration which accepts the Muslim Brotherhood, not only as leaders of other nations (e.g. Morsi in Eqypt) but also as members of his staff, high level advisors, administrators and high level bureaucrats within the administration. Apparently, John Brennan, head of the CIA and previously Obama’s top national security advisor in the White House is a Muslim, converted by the Saudis. Vice President Andrew Johnson became President after Lincoln was assassinated. Johnson was a slave owner, he was almost assassinated, and he was finally impeached, tried and removed from office for failure to implement laws passed by Congress. We are a long way from that today.
One of Muhammad’s most successful tools of persuasion and penetration was/is moral relativity…tolerance of intolerable acts…having been persuaded to do the unnatural, persuaded that we should not judge others. Judgment is a survival skill honed by millions of years of genetics. The US Constitution and the books of Islam are mutually, culturally incompatible. But today we have a President who ignores the Constitution and is working openly to change it, and this is apparently accepted by half of Congress and half of the country. We have a long way to go on the road back to national sanity.