Religion


Middle East: Europe to blame for authoritarianism in Islamic world, says expert




Rome, 11 Dec. (AKI) - A leading historian says Europe is to blame for the authoritarianism that exists in Islamic countries.

Speaking at an international Islamic conference in Rome, Bernard Lewis said many Muslim countries have adopted a political model imported from Europe in the 19th century.

"The authoritarianism present in the Middle East region is not part of the Arab and Muslim tradition, but it has been imported from Europe," said Lewis.

Lewis, a British born historian, is professor emeritus at Princeton University in the US and is a widely read expert on the Middle East. His latest book is entitled "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East"

He was speaking at a two-day conference, Fighting for Democracy in Islamic World, in Rome.

Referring to the Ottoman empire, he said during that period the sultan consulted all the dignitaries and when he ascended the throne he would greet the crowds and say "Allah is greater than you are."

Lewis said many Muslim countries imported a model from Europe from the 19th century when Islam felt it was behind the West and advancing by drawing inspiration from it.

In early decades of the last century, France reinforced its presence in the south of the Mediterranean and the German Nazis began to be very active in the region pushing its way as far as Iraq and exporting a kind of "remodelled Nazism".

He said it was that period that gave birth to the radicals of the Baath party that led to the leadership of Saddam Hussein and the current party in power in Syria.

Lewis said the reference to Nazism was important because German patriotism was great source of pride and had contributed to a perverse form of Islam.




 

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