Monday, July 30

Why the Arab Spring will be difficult to sustain

Here’s one very good reason. I quote some excerpts from this rather shocking report.

Earlier this year, a debate on how to foster reading habits among Arab youth was prompted after the Arab Thought Foundation’s Fikr released its fourth annual cultural development report in January, saying that the average Arab child reads “six minutes” a year in comparison to 12,000 minutes its Western counterpart spends.
It also reported that an Arab individual on average reads a quarter of a page a year compared to the 11 books read by an American and seven books by a British person.

Another survey on reading habits in the Middle East in April 2011 made for a depressing read. Only one in five read on a regular basis and among those under 25 ─ nearly 65 per cent of the 3,667 questioned by Yahoo! Maktoob Research ─ about one in three seldom or never read a book for pleasure.

The survey’s results shows similar reading habits across countries. In an Arab League table of readers by nations, the United Arab Emirates placed fifth behind Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and Iraq. In the UAE, just 22 per cent of people described themselves as regular readers.

One thing which the report doesnt mention is the sheer rejection of secularism, the requirement for open minds and thoughts. When everything is going to be fed through your local mullah or you made to regurgitate what you have memorised, what’s the big point of learning to read?

Reading opens the windows of the soul and brain, religion closes it. I do not have much hope that this will improve in the short term, till the Arab lands remove the cancer of religion and become secular, this will remain an issue

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