memri

February 4, 2018
Clip No.
6427

Jordanian Businessman Senator Talal Abu-Gazaleh: The Arab Spring Was the Region's "Dark Ages"; Predicts "Arab Renaissance" from 2020

Jordanian Senator Talal Abu-Gazaleh said, in a BBC Arabic TV interview, that the Arab Spring was not a movement for democracy. "What happened is that [the region entered] the 'Dark Ages' stage," he said, reminding the viewers of the Dark Ages of Europe. Abu-Gazaleh said that while democracy and human rights were important, "one cannot achieve democracy in a society of ignorance. Giving democracy to an ignorant person is like giving him a weapon to shoot." He predicted that "in the coming decade – starting in 2020 – we will enter a stage of Arab renaissance, and this region will regain its leadership role in world civilization." The interview aired on February 4.

Host: "[In the Arab Spring], the region witnessed a movement for democracy."

Senator Talal Abu-Gazaleh: "I beg to differ. Syria was not the least democratic country in the world, and neither was Iraq. There are countries that are less democratic but were not affected. What happened is that [the region entered] the 'Dark Ages' stage. We should bear in mind that Europe underwent such a stage – and this includes Britain, where you live. In some of these countries, the Dark Ages lasted 70 years. Since the beginning of the so-called 'Arab Spring,' I have been saying that these are the Dark Ages..."

Host: "The 'Arab Decline...'"

Senator Talal Abu-Gazaleh: "The Arab Decline. Well said. But my claim is that in the coming decade – starting in 2020 – we will enter a stage of Arab renaissance, and this region will regain its leadership role in world civilization.

[...]

"By no means am I saying that human rights and democracy are not important. They are. But as I always say, the longest way is the shortest way. One cannot achieve democracy in a society of ignorance. Giving democracy to an ignorant person is like giving him a weapon to shoot. I would like my nation, my people, and my country to become a society of knowledge, and this will usher in democracy in and of itself."