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Columns and Articles by Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman

November 03, 2011

Global Violence Declines---Except in the Middle East--Part 2.

As mentioned in Part 1 of our two-part look at the decline of violence in the world, daily violence has been on the increase in one region of the world, the Muslim Middle East. But even here, the numbers are terrible when compared with the rest of the world, but not when compared with the history of the region itself.

Violence in the daily life of people in the Middle East, once dictators are removed, is no different than the violence of daily life in Europe from the fall of Rome until the 18th century. It has changed for us, but not for them.

In the Middle East (with the exception of Israel and Turkey, the latter's democracy becoming wobbly), the three revolutions that propelled the West into modernity (Scientific Revolution, Industrial Revolution, and Political Revolution) have not transformed any Muslim countries. They all tried a variety of systems after being either colonies of Europe or colonies of the Ottoman Turks. All of them emerged from chaos followed by military coups that established governments headed by a dictator (Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Iraq) or some sort of monarchy (Jordan, the Gulf States, and Saudi Arabia). Iran, not an Arab country, had a modernizing monarchy that was overturned by a fascist Islamist government. The region hasn't been lucky.

Under military dictatorships that lasted for decades, there was some economic progress, some progress in education, and a more or less enforced peace among former ethnic enemies. There was less overt violence in the public sphere, but not so in the hidden private sphere where women have long lived with violence and murder. The only violence in warfare was created by the Arab states themselves, believing that they could destroy the democratic upstart among them, Israel. Israel is the beneficiary of the West's three revolutions, and despite its size, repeatedly trounced neighbors with populations of 100 million vs. Israel's 7 million. Culture does make a difference.

If not for our need for petroleum, on which the Middle East sits, we would have no need to care about their violence, any more than we care about violence in such outliers as the Himalayan states or Central Africa. But their violence does have a way of migrating, which it has in the rampant Islamist terrorism movement.

In Syria, which is embroiled in a very bloody revolution to topple a dictatorial regime, the formerly repressed (but peaceful) country has now become a hotbed of sectarian hatreds and violence. In a warning of things to come, Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun, Syria's top Sunni cleric, has warned the West that if they even think of intervening in Syria on behalf of the revolutionaries, “I say to all of Europe, I say to America, we will set up suicide bombers who are now in your countries, if you bomb Syria or Lebanon.” (All the fools who think the Muslim population in Europe is benign, should think again.)

In Egypt, the dwindling Christian population of Copts (once the majority, now less than 10 percent), is under attack by Muslim thugs and the very security forces that should be protecting them. On October 9, 24 were murdered and many more were wounded. This is the tip of the iceberg. In rural Coptic villages, the murders, destruction of churches, and rapes are going on, out of sight. The Arab Spring is now an Arab Winter.

The EU has expanded its sanctions against Iran for a sharp increase in human rights violations. As the Islamic government is increasingly hated, their violence meets not only protestors, but even protestors in thought only.

Meanwhile, in Israel, anti-Muslim vandals have attacked Muslim cemeteries, mosques, and farmlands. The Israeli government is hunting down the vandals, and in a clash in October, the Israeli army rushed to the scene of violence and broke it up, letting the Palestinian farmers harvest their crops. That is how violence is handled in a culture derived from the Scientific Revolution, Industrial Revolution, and Political Revolution. The Arab world isn't there yet.

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Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of How Do You Know That? You may contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.