What's Really Wrong With The Middle East

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Overview

"A passionate call for political and social change in Arab countries . . . and a stern critique of the status quo."Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor

The problems in the Middle East are always someone else’s fault.

While the West blames dictators and extremists, Arabs often blame centuries of foreign interference. For many, both in the East and West, the root problem is a lack of freedom.

Looking beyond the turmoil reported on our TV screens,...

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What's Really Wrong with the Middle East

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Overview

"A passionate call for political and social change in Arab countries . . . and a stern critique of the status quo."Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor

The problems in the Middle East are always someone else’s fault.

While the West blames dictators and extremists, Arabs often blame centuries of foreign interference. For many, both in the East and West, the root problem is a lack of freedom.

Looking beyond the turmoil reported on our TV screens, Guardian journalist Brian Whitaker examines the "freedom deficit" that affects Arabs in their daily lives: their struggles against corruption, discrimination, and bureaucracy, and the stifling authoritarianism that pervades homes, schools, and mosques as well as presidential palaces.

Drawing on a wealth of new research and wide-ranging interviews, Whitaker analyzes the views of Arabs living in the region and argues that in order to achieve peace, prosperity, and full participation in today’s global economy, Arabs should embrace political and far-reaching social and cultural change.

Brian Whitaker was Middle East editor at the Guardian for seven years and is currently an editor for the newspaper’s Comment is Free website. He is the author of Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East (Saqi Books, 2006; also published in the United States by the University of California Press, 2006). His website, www.al-bab.com, is devoted to Arab culture and politics.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to Whitaker (Unspeakable Love), former Middle East editor at the Guardian, the various political, economic, and human rights deficits are too commonly shrugged off by the Middle East's civil society as “someone else's fault.” While acknowledging the huge impact of European colonialism, foreign interventions, and despotic leaders, Whitaker argues persuasively that “if Arabs are ever to take charge of their predicament they must stop asking 'How did we get here?' and instead say 'How can we move forward?' ” In looking for answers, Whitaker brings the conversation to the actual populations struggling against stultifying authoritarianism, cultural stagnation, corruption, and deep-rooted inequalities, in the process revealing “the debate among Arabs themselves about change—a debate that many in the west are still largely unaware of.” His analysis is accessible and instructive, and cuts deep, settling neither for easy explanations nor simple solutions. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780863566240
  • Publisher: Saqi Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Whitaker has done a variety of jobs at the Guardian including, most recently, seven years as Middle East editor. He is currently an editor on Comment is Free. He also has his own website devoted to Arab culture and politics: al-bab.com Author of 'Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East', published by UCP (2006)

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 7

Introduction 9

1 Thinking inside the box 17

2 The gilded cage 48

3 States without citizens 82

4 The politics of God 115

5 Vitamin W 148

6 The urge to control 179

7 A sea of victims 231

8 Alien tomatoes 260

9 Escape from history 290

Names 325

Bibliography 371

Index 375

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Realistic and Discontenting

    Whitaker touches upon the reality of living in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Morocco. In the US we take our first amendment liberty for granted. But in these countries using the internet, writing an opinion, starting a newspaper or being a woman is subject to ultimate control and often demeaning behavior. The US Foreign policy in recent years has not ultimately helped foster a relationship of trust especially when the Bush administration referred to this region as the new Soviet Union. This book uses real life experiences to illustrate it's assertions along with additional references and footnotes.

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