Monday, March 13, 2006

Letter to Akaash Maharaj

This is the letter which I sent Akaash Maharaj after reading on his blog of his trip to Jordan for yet another pointless UN-sponsored event. Now the letter is addressed to him, but the message is consistent to all Western Politicians or anyone else who think anything constructive can come out of these conferences. And I'd also like to stress that I do not question Mr. Maharaj's sincerity regarding this trip. This is just one man's opinion on the impotence of organizations like this when ti comes to Middle Eastern matters:

Dear Mr. Maharaj

I was rather surprised to read on your blog that you will be attending the latest UN-Sponsored Middle Eastern event in Amman, Jordan which seeks to create dialogue about the status of Middle Eastern Politics and the democratic deficit which exist in that region.

The reason for my surprise is based on many ironic facts surrounding your trip. The first being that the very conference aimed at strengthening "democratic institutions" in the Middle East is being held in a country that has been known to crack down on its dissidents by locking them up without trial, but we'll just leave that embarrassing factor aside. Another irony is that the very "MP's" from across the Middle East whom you'll be meeting are mostly (if not all) unelected political hacks whom were appointed to their positions by the Arab dictators who have no interest in seeing any "democratic changes" take place.

I mean think about, you will be meeting with a wide range of politicians who are representing regimes that have repressed the very same values you aim to champion at this Conference ( freedom of expression and equality of citizens; the development of strategies for the diplomatic resolution of international conflicts; and peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.). I'd be interested to know how you will be addressing these issues to the very same politicians that have depended on the suppression of those values in order to remain in power.

Being an Arab-Canadian who was born and raised in the Middle East, and who have lived in 3 Arab States (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE) for a combined 11 years, I can tell you right from the beginning that these "Conferences" are nothing more than an attempt by the Arab Heads of States to put on a phony song and dance show just to offer some kind of proof that they are sincere in their efforts in reforming Human-Rights laws and Democratic Reform in they're respective nations. Since the days of Jimmy Carter's Presidency, countless Middle Eastern "MP's" have been attending conferences like these with very minimal impact. You don't have to look far to realize that, just find a list of the Middle Eastern Leaders at the time of Carter's presidency, and then get a list of the current Middle Eastern leaders. They're as different as Night and...well..later that night. The family names are the same, however the only difference is that the leadership has been passed from father to son! A quick look at the laws concerning Freedom of Speech and equality among citizens would reveal literally no progress. Heck, some laws have not progressed since the days of the Ottoman Empire.

All this to say, that these types of "conferences" are meaningless sir. They're just an opportunity for Western Diplomats to pat themselves on the back, convincing themselves that they offered something constructive for the interest of peace and democracy, while the Arab diplomats simply sweep the recommendations that come out of these conferences under the rug, and laugh it up in they're own inner circles how they suckered those "do-gooders" into believing they're efforts. Mr. Maharaj...25 years of useless "dialogue" is long enough. This is a time for action to speak louder than words.

Now I don't want you to take this as a criticism of your efforts. I do in fact believe that you are sincere in your efforts to contribute positively to a change in the status-quo in the Middle East which would benefit us all. Which is precisely why I'm urging you to ignore these "conferences" and focus your time and effort on other means of constructive action for change. For starters, you can speak to a number of academics, journalists and activists who have experienced the turbulent conditions of the Middle East first hand. People such as:

Wafa Sultan: An Arab-American psychologist living in L.A. who escaped Islamic persecution in the Middle East and who occasionally appears on Al-Jazeera Television debating many of the people who are standing in the way of Peace and Democracy.

Joseph Farah: Arab-American veteran journalist of over 25 years. Farah spent a big chunk of his career as a Middle Eastern correspondent and now runs his own News Organization: World Net Daily. He can be contacted at:

Amir Taheri: Iranian Born journalist who has an impressive resume in his experience in covering Middle Eastern matters. He can be contacted though his agency: Benador Associates here and is available for public and private discussions.

If your looking for something a little closer to home than there's reform activist Irshad Manji or Salim Mansur, who teaches Political Science at the University of Western Ontario.

These are just a few of the many experts who can offer solid, concrete analysis and recommendations and not just feel-good rhetoric and endless cycles of discussions that lead nowhere. However, I'd also like to offer you some recommendations on what you can bring up during this conference on some recent challenges that have been raised in the Middle East.

1. The jailing of Yemeni Journalist Mohammed Al-Asadi who did the tragic mistake of publishing a censored version of the infamous "Danish Cartoons" just for the sake of describing current events that were surrounding Yemenis (The burning of embassies, death threats, etc...). This might tie in well with the whole Freedom of Expression discussion.

2.Equality of citizens: I'm sure many Arab Christians and Women would really appreciate they're struggles for equality in that part of the world to be raised and debated. One of them being the disgraceful "Honour Killings" that are widespread in the very host country that your attending.

3. As for peaceful Co-Existence between Palestinians and Israelis: Perhaps you should point out to some of those Middle Eastern "MP's" how some of those Anti-Semitic Cartoons and Television Programs on State-Sponsored Media doesn't exactly give the gullible young generation of that part of the world an incentive to reach out to they're Israeli Neighbors in a friendly manner. (I know it didn't give me the incentive when I saw them when I was a child!)

Again, this letter was not a critique of your sincerity or efforts on the matter, but rather of the channels in which you decide to use your efforts. This is just a letter from one concerned citizen to another.

Thanks for taking the time of reading my e-mail, and good luck.


Okay...on second thought maybe I do have a good reason to doubt his sincerity, especially after this paragraph on the same post announcing his trip:

Equally, I am conscious that I live in the shadow of men and women greater than I could ever hope to be, who made the world a better place by projecting Canadian values into the international arena: Wilfred Laurier, who created the first genuinely bilingual state; Lester Pearson, who created international peacekeeping; Pierre Trudeau, who created multiculturalism as the post-modern nationalism.

Gut-feeling: this is nothing more than something which he can add on his resume to prepare for his upcoming political career. I'm sorry but his whole history screams out "Politician in Waiting!". But I hope I'm wrong.


At Monday, 13 March, 2006, Blogger jacobin said...

hey there arabian knight

i'll be the first to say that i don't much about all these conferences you speak off, but that these "Conferences" are nothing more than an attempt by the Arab Heads of States to put on a phony song and dance is not suprising to me anymore

i do applaud your goodwill and dedication to reforming Human-Rights laws in the middle east

p.s. be vigilant as to who really backs these impotent conferences for the mainstream news to cover after the fact and acclaim it to be a great success, only people like you that really question it and know the in's and out's, will be able to tell if they are indeed a tool to bring meaningful change to the middle east

At Sunday, 09 April, 2006, Blogger Jane Evans said...

This conference was a course offered by the UN leadership institute. It was an opportunity for him to self glamourize himself. If it was such an important conference why was there no media coverage?

At Thursday, 15 July, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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