Following are excerpts from an interview withSyrian poet Adonis, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on September 7, 2007.
Adonis: If we compare the capabilities of the Arabs with what they actually do – the only conclusion I can draw is that we are a people that is becoming extinct. We are becoming extinct in terms of our civilization, like the Sumerians, the Greeks, the Pharaohs, the Romans, and all those great civilizations that have become extinct. We no longer possess the creative capacity that would allow us to establish a great human society, and at the same time, to take part in the building of the world.
I am not against religion – any religion whatsoever. What I am against is the misinterpretation of religion, and against the political and social exploitation of religion for the sake of other objectives, because this constitutes aggression against others. The prevalent interpretation is that the truth lies in the text, whereas by any intellectual standard, this is not true, and truth lies in research.
Even the early Muslims invented the concept of interpretation, in order to say that the truth does not lie in the text or language. The text is one form of the truth, and hence, truth is something that constantly changes and renews itself.
Unfortunately, the political regime allies itself with the prevalent religious interpretation, which is against freedom and against human beings, and it plays a role against freedom.
Interviewer: Even now?
Adonis: Yes, of course.
Interviewer: In your opinion, the political regimes in the Arab world are not harmed by these fundamentalist groups?
Adonis: Nevertheless, they do not grant other people the freedom to debate with these religious streams. These religious streams are given complete freedom on all levels, while all others are denied this freedom.
I had hoped, for instance, that there would be an Islamic awakening in the humanistic sense, that there would be a reexamination of Islam, and that Islam would take part in the building of today's world. But the entire "Islamic awakening" of today is based on violence, killing, and terrorism.