Gates of Vienna blog posted a translation of an article from Der Spiegel (unfortunately, the original article is in German) of an interview with Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. Hoodbhoy is a nuclear physicist teaching at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.Hoodbhoy is quoted:
We are experiencing a huge cultural revolution in the Islamic world, not just in Pakistan, but in more or less every Islamic country. Pakistan is changing, Afghanistan has radicalized, Iran, Iraq, many countries in Africa and the Arabian world, Egypt, Algeria, now Mali. Sooner or later in Syria only veiled women will be seen. But let’s look at the Islamic communities in Europe or the USA — they are infected with the same virus. Why? I think people are noticing that they differ from others. A burka is essentially just a label to distance yourself from others. It says clearly: my identity is Islamic. This identity is closely linked to the feeling of being a victim of history. Deep down, Muslims feel that they have failed. This mix of sensitivities makes me afraid, because it leads to behavior that is very unhealthy.
... There are around 1.5 billion Muslims in the entire world — but they cannot point to a substantial achievement in any field. Not in politics, not socially, not in the sciences or art or literature. The only thing they do with great devotion is fast and pray. But there are no efforts to improve conditions of life in Islamic societies. Unconsciously, people naturally feel this is a collective failure.
Muslims in most of these countries know that something is wrong or different. It is similar to the question that underlay Jared Diamond's quest to understand why some cultures "succeed" materially and others don't. The Middle-East sees the prosperity of the West, but doesn't understand why they don't share in it. So they come up with excuses. They don't see their culture as an element of the problem. In fact, when they were most successful as a culture was in the Middle-Ages, so they probably view returning to that paradigm as a means to obtaining the success they once had.... The Arab spring was just an answer to autocratic systems and despotism, that is, to the factors which allowed the Arab world to sink into darkness. But the protests were not aimed at demanding a cultural or scientific renaissance. That is why not many changes are to be expected. A real liberation will only happen when the political changes are followed by cultural ones, and also by a change of attitude. Arab Muslims must get rid of the false but widespread belief that science contains any kind of religious elements. This Insh’allah mentality, according to which Allah is responsible for everything, is the opposite of the scientific way of thinking. Apart from this, the Arab working ethic is a bad one. There are always stops in order to comply with religious duties. In order to remain competitive in the modern world, things like punctuality and compliance with rules dictated by men, and not by Allah, must be dramatically improved.
In my view, Arab culture has never been successful as a civilization. It is a slave and tribute society. Even at its prime, Arab "civilization" rested on the back of the Christian and Jewish communities of the Middle-East. Once they drove the Christians and Jews out, their civilization sunk.
My concern is that as things get worse, they will see plunder of one sort or another as the answer to the problem.