Flower delivery in Iran

Flower delivery in Iran


Sehaty Foreign Exchange

Opinion * FAQ * Write for The Iranian
* Editorial policy

Cutting knowledge
Dialogue or clash of civilizations?

By Goudarz Eghtedari
November 23, 2001
The Iranian

Since September 11 we have heard in numerous occasions the "Why do they hate us?" question and answers to it. As President Bush maintained his line to assure his Moslem partners that this is not a war against Islam, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi went so far to say that; "They hate us because we have Mozart and Michelangelo."

There is little doubt that these comments and schools of thought are the conclusions of the theory of Clash of Civilizations that was offered in the summer of 1993 by Samuel Huntington in the Journal of Foreign Affairs. Huntington discussed the interactions among seven or eight major civilizations, of which the conflict between two of them, Islam and the West, gets the most of his attention.

President Khatami gave a high-level response from the Islamic side. In a speech to United Nations General Assembly in 1998 and on his first visit after a surprising landslide victory in the presidential elections, Khatami instead spoke of "Dialogue among Civilizations". The UN adopted this suggestion and ironically the year 2001 was named the "Year of Dialogue among Civilizations".

But in several TV interviews in the U.S. last week, Khatami said dialogue can only work if it is with a fair and equal conditions. All proponents of dialogue demand respect from the West, at least with regards to acknowledgment of the contributions of their culture to science and humanity. After all, such names as Khayyam, Rumi, Hafiz, Avicenna, Ibn Khaldun, Averoes, Biruni and Tusi, to name a few, have contributed tremendously to human civilizations.

Dennis Overbye in an article in Science Times titled "How Islam Won, and Lost, the Lead in Science" wrote, "Muslims created a society that in the Middle Ages was the scientific center of the world. A golden age that can count among its credits the precursors to modern universities, courts, algebra, the names of the stars and even the notion of science as an empirical inquiry. It was the infusion of this knowledge into Western Europe, historians say, which fueled the Renaissance and the scientific revolution."

The amount of interests in books and articles about the Middle East and Central Asia in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on our soil has been tremendous. One would have thought that we should expect more opening in the channels for the flow of information, encouraging dialogue. Unfortunately though, we witness some moves to block this exchange of knowledge and understanding.

One proposal that is now on the senate floor is to ban visa for all students from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Cuba and North Korea and put limitation on others. This bill titled "Visa Reform Act of 2001" was initially proposed back in 1997 by Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Proponents of the Bill Senators Fienstein and Kyle refer to one Iraqi student who studied here 30 years ago and went to lead Iraq's nuclear institute.

As Professor Ward, President of the American Council on Education, testified before the house committee on education, "The overwhelming majority of students who come here to study return to their home countries as ambassadors for American values, democracy, and the free market. More generally, the chance to study at an American college is often a life-altering experience. Many individuals who do so, such as Jordan's King Abdullah, United Nations Secretary General (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Kofi Annan, and Mexican President Vincente Fox, make an impact in their home countries and throughout the world. But even those who do not assume such exalted positions leave with a deep appreciation for the people of the United States and for the benefits of personal freedom, and democracy."

On the other hand Martin Kramer the editor of the Middle East Quarterly wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he requested downsizing of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA). Kramer claims that MESA and its affiliate schools around the country have not done enough to expose the Islamic world and extremists of the Middle East and calls for cutting of federal funds now available from the U.S. Department of Education.

It is clear in my opinion that while most of us are begging for more information on the Middle East and blame ourselves for not knowing enough about it, there are certain voices who want to shut down both directions of information and knowledge, consequently leading us into more clashes instead of the dialogue.

Curtailing these exchanges would only deprive our nation of one of its best tools for extending democratic values throughout the world, making us more susceptible to the distortions and myths of extremist organizations and movements.


Goudarz Eghtedari is a Systems Science researcher and a lecturer at Portland State University.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Goudarz Eghtedari

By Goudarz Eghtedari

What would Terry say?
Profiling Iranian passengers in the U.S.


Correcting the mistake of the older generation
By Ahmad Javan

The R-word
Youth increasingly opting for radical surgery to cure the intractable ills of the nation
By Shahriar Zangeneh

We had hope
Khomeini promised clerics would return to theological schools
By Sam Miller

More commentary


* Recent

* Cover stories

* Writers

* All sections

Flower delivery in Iran
Copyright © Iranian.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Terms for more information contact: times@iranian.com
Web design by BTC Consultants
Internet server Global Publishing Group