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Jan 30, 2016
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Egyptian Philosopher Mourad Wahba: We Suffer from a "Backwardness Virus"; No Democracy without Secularism

#5312 | 04:23
Source: Al-Hayat (Egypt)

Egyptian philosopher Mourad Wahba, speaking on the Egyptian Al-Hayat TV channel, said that secularism was a cornerstone of democratic society. He further said: "There is such a thing as a 'backwardness virus'," which "concentrates on disabling the mind," and that "when a political authority strikes an alliance with a fundamentalist religious authority, there is no end to the backwardness." The interview with Wahba aired on January 30, 2016.


Mourad Wabha: "There is such a thing as a 'backwardness virus,' which has prevented us from developing a vision of the future. This 'backwardness virus' concentrates on disabling the mind. This disabling of the mind was conspicuous during the rule of the two previous regimes. What we need to do is to use our minds in establishing a new value system - a system which I think I managed to formulate in my four cornerstones of democracy in the 20th century. These four components are necessary if we want to establish a democratic state. The first is secularism. This is fundamental. According to my definition, secularism means thinking in relative, rather than absolute, terms.


[...]


"What to the supporters of theocracy do when they get upset about rational thinking? As soon as anyone uses his mind, they say to him: Beware, this is heresy. This has happened throughout Islamic history.


[...]


"When a political authority strikes an alliance with a fundamentalist religious authority, there is no end to the backwardness."

Host: "This is what happened in Europe for a long time."

Mourad Wabha: "Exactly. 400 years.


[...]


"We have Averroes in Islamic culture and Hypatia in Christian culture. Both tried to merge religious beliefs with Greek philosophy. The former was declared a heretic and his writings were burned, and the latter was slaughtered. Therefore, we must open up to others.


[...]


"Accusing people of treason or heresy is anchored in the notion of consensus. Consensus controls Islamic civilization, and anyone who deviates from this consensus is branded a traitor or a heretic.


[...]


"A peace accord was signed between Egypt and Israel. I have abided by this accord, which talks about restoring normal relations between Egypt and Israel. When I abided by that, I was accused of treason and of violating the consensus. This is not a mistake. It's a sin.


[...]


"The Egyptian Syndicate of Journalists purports to support freedom of speech. Whenever a journalist's freedom of speech is violated, the syndicate raises hell. So how come they passed a unanimous resolution, stating that any journalist who contacts an Israeli or goes to Israel, is to be expelled from the syndicate? This is what they did to Ali Salem.


[...]


"Our catastrophe is manifest in our intellectuals. We can no longer draw a distinction between the man on the street and the elite, because they have become on a par.


[...]


"(Egyptian Intellectuals) are opposed to secularism, and that is why they talk about a 'civil' state. 'Civil' (state) has nothing to do with secularism. By using this term, our intellectuals are demonstrating their cowardice.


[...]


"In order to be a liberal, you must be secular. If you consider yourself a liberal but don't have the courage to say you are secular, you are a phony liberal, who does not understand anything."