My last article "Reformatting the Middle East" has generated many responses. Some were in agreement; others rationally disagreed.
Dr. Thuraya Arrayed is a prominent Saudi writer and women-rights activist. She writes: (I still hang on to my belief in true continuing reform. You do too. I hope to be there for it. How can we start our trip towards true reform in the Arab world?
What we need is a genuine sense of dedication as part and parcel of our value system. The norm now is "every one is for himself" and "get it any way you can". "Smear the others and even kill them to make sure you are the only one remaining on the scene.
Anyone who does not apply that norm finds himself with the short end of the stick. The grip of this destructive conception must be broken.
Reform has been either a dream or a nightmare because we continue to sleep and ignore our role in making our fate change direction.
Yet, it is a miracle that some of us still believe that reforms will become a reality. Our experience has been a past of continuous disappointments, a present that is reflecting the negative results of all the accumulation of wrong decisions and selfish actions by shortsighted individuals. No wonder it is also an experience of a dream future which never materializes as promised.
We have always been sold glittery lies, told what we would like to hear and believed it was honest promises only to find out it was the way to guarantee the "promiser" his self interests. So why are we still believing in reform??? Because nothing else is left to hang on to. The other options are worse: suicide, suicidal bombings or becoming suicidal bomber yourself. Who wants that? We all know that diffusing the power of these inciters of destruction and reestablishing the normal functioning of the brainwashed angry youth are the first step towards reform.
Rescue the educational system from the clutch of the perpetuators of ignorance and opponents of human rights, and you would have started a new generation that will demand reform as a right and as a continued driving force in their life style.
Egyptian political analyst Hatem Ezzeldin writes: (There was no revolution in Egypt and there were none in the Arab world throughout history. It is hard to compare what happened from army turnovers to true revolutions in Europe in nature, characteristics and outcomes.)
Saqib Bukhari (England) objects to the Western link to our reforms. He says : (It is wholly true that the Arab world and the wider Muslim world needs to be reformed and like you said, the push for reform has been at the loudspeaker for quite some time.
However, what I feel quite alarming is that you don't pay much attention to who are calling for these reforms and why. If one was to look at the political landscape of the Arab world and the aspiration of its populace, one finds that people can be categorized as "Nationalist", "Secularist", "Fundamentalist", "Socialist" and so on, calling for different types of reform. The reform debate currently at the forefront of global politics is extrinsically linked to the exportation of democracy and this odd notion of freedom and equality between the sexes.
For the West to be successful in such reforms, they can utilize the secularist (or sometimes called the modernists) coupled with military onslaughts as we are seeing in Iraq.
The cause for reform, then, is part and parcel of the war on terror, which in all intents and purposes, is a war on political Islam. Therefore, the current actions and policies of the West towards the Muslim world simply reinforce the rhetoric of the politicians in the early 20th Century. The "liberal" Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli held a copy of the Quran in the House of Commons and said, "Muslims can never be defeated until this (the Quran) is taken from them."
So, to conclude, the nature of these reforms is to counter the growing rise of the need for political Islam by millions of Muslims throughout the world. The Nationalist movements failed so if we want to call for reforms in the Muslim world, we need to realize that it's only through Islam we can rise and gain back our dignity.)
Virginia Johnston (Gainesville, FL) writes: (You must have heard about our special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. If the law cannot get to the truth of what has happen to the American people under the Bush administration, and as we hear the death rattles of our own democracy, we have no right reforming the Middle East.)