Leadership: Can We Blame the Turks?

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February13, 2007: Moslem leaders are getting more concerned about the growing number of reformers making themselves heard. These guys (and a few women) don't talk about religion, but mainly economics and education. Their message is brutally brief. They simply point out that the Moslem world has managed to compile a truly dismal track record in the past half century. While the industrialized nations average $27,000 per person in income, the Moslem world manages only 14 percent of that. And that's despite all that oil income. Half of all Moslems are illiterate, versus less than ten percent in industrialized countries. France has a larger GDP than all Moslem nations put together. Book buying in the Arab world is less than a tenth of what it is in the industrialized world. Books translated into Arabic are rare, compared to the rate of books translated into the languages of the industrialized nations.

Some members of the Arab Reform Movement is pretty blunt on the subject of what has caused all this. They blame it on Arab leadership. Now an Arab saying that sort of thing in an Arab country can get himself arrested, killed, or worse. For nearly half a century, the lack of progress was blamed on the "legacy of colonialism." Reformers point out that, for most Arab countries, the colonial ruler for most of the last thousand years has been fellow Moslems (usually Turks). That tends to be played down by Moslem media and politicians. The reformers point out, the short period of European colonialism gave the Moslem world an opportunity to start catching up in education and economic development. But instead, Moslem leaders fought among themselves and stole whatever wealth they could get their hands on. This condition has persisted, and the reformers simply ask, "why?" That's become a scary question, and that one Moslem leaders are having an increasingly difficult time dealing with. While there are still a lot of Moslem demagogues who continue to seek traction with the "blame the West" rant, an increasing number of Moslems are looking closer to home for the cause, and cure, for the problem.

 


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