Syrian Actor Jamal Soliman Makes a Plea for Democracy: It Is a Culture, a Way of Life, Not a Magic Solution | MEMRI – The Middle East Media Research Institute

It isn’t often that we hear from actual Syrians about their own perspective on the destabilization of the Arab world.  Western news agencies and Western politicians are all too eager to feed us their simplistic opinions clothed as “fact,”  ignoring the perceptions and lived experience of those who actually live there.

Mr. Soliman brings a fresh pair of eyes to the problems that not only the Western world faces, but indeed the actual people who live in the region.

The ethnocentric blindness of Americans assumes that everyone, everywhere must needs adopt democracy and democratic values.  As Mr Soliman so succinctly puts it, democracy is a product of culture, a way of life.  What he doesn’t say is that many cultures are not even compatible with democracy.  We have seen some horrible disasters (think Afghanistan) when the “Democratic World” has attempted to impose democracy on a culture that is living in the 7th Century.  It doesn’t work.

Certainly it must be possible for the Arab regimes to abandon such atrocities as torture, honor killings, and extreme “punishments” such as stoning and amputations, without insisting that everyone in the world adopt democracy.

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  1. I think that an example of what you are saying is that some cultures would be better off with a kind of beneficent dictatorship that can over ride the horrors that you describe.


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