The Internet and Middle East Reform
Thanks to a reader for letting me know about this article by Jonathan Rauch. The piece does a terrific job of outlining the disastrous effects of the lack of intellectual freedom in the Arab world, and how a few brave intellectuals are trying to change this situation, via the Internet:
Odd though it may sound, somewhere in Baghdad a man is working in secrecy to edit new Arabic versions of Liberalism, by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, and In Defense of Global Capitalism, by the Swedish economist Johan Norberg. He is doing this at some risk of kidnap, beating, and death, because he hopes that a new Arabic-language Web site, called LampofLiberty.org—MisbahAlHurriyya.org in Arabic—can change the world by publishing liberal classics.
Odder still, he may be right.
Interviewed by email, he asks to be known by a pseudonym, H. Ali Kamil. A Shiite from Iraq's south, he is an accomplished scholar, but he asks that no other personal details be revealed. Two of his friends have been killed in the postwar insurgency and chaos, one shot and the other "slaughtered." Others of his acquaintance are in hiding, visiting their families in secret. He has been threatened for working with an international agency.
Now he is collaborating not with foreign agencies but with foreign ideas. He has made Arabic translations of all or parts of more than two dozen articles and nine books and booklets. "None," he says, "were previously translated, to my knowledge, for the simple reason that they are all on liberalism and democracy, which unfortunately have little audience and advocators in the Middle East, where almost all publishing houses and press outlets are governmental—i.e., anti-liberal."
Please read the rest:
In Arabic, "Internet" Means "Freedom"