Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Intellectuals and the Importance of Participation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Thousands of Arab intellectuals and academics were educated in the best universities and are well aware of the state of the world and the situation in their respective countries… However, do they take part in public life? Have they guided their fellow citizens and spread social and political awareness? Have they contributed to influencing public opinion?

A very limited number of intellectuals are actively engaged in their countries and questioning the stagnant ideologies popular in the Arab world. Yet, the majority behaves as if this was none of their concern and does not display any social responsibility towards the rest of society!

Those who appear on satellite channels commenting on political, economic and social matters are few and far between, to the extent that we have memorized their names and can predict their arguments. Journalists are also astonishingly very few, despite the ability of many academics and scholars to write and sway the public.

Often, we blame the majority for its lack of participation or for holding erroneous views. But, what of the thousands of educated university professors and intellectuals who are silent towards the problems of their country and people?

I was shocked to read on Saturday the names of those implicated in the “Oil for Food” scandal who had received bribes or sold their conscience. Amongst them were newspaper owners, talk show guests, writers and commentators who sold their principles for coupons. They mislead public opinion and lied for several years, not because of conviction, but for the sake of profit.

One angrily wonders why such individuals find receptive ears across the Arab world and why so many intellectuals sit back and allow this to happen without interfering.

Why don’t our scholars and thinkers express their honest opinion, expose the truth and take part in spreading awareness? Why don’t they rescue people from conflicting ideologies brought to them by liars and mercenaries?

This is a call for the thousands of silent intellectuals, thinkers and academics to participate in public life and promote fresh new ideas, instead of allowing the corrupt and dishonest to flourish.