Syrian poet Adonis said that under the present circumstances, there can be no democratic regimes in the Arab world. Asking how come there are no important scientific institutes and universities in the Arab world and why the Islamic nation does not have a single intellectual who interprets Islam innovatively, Adonis said the Muslims have an internal problem with their heritage and that Israel is “a fundamental part of the picture.” A people becomes extinct “when it no longer has a creative presence that contributes to the building of the world,” he said in the interview, which aired on Al-Arabiya on August 11.
Adonis: There can be no democratic regimes under the current Arab circumstances. That's impossible. In addition, the various groups [in society] should be connected by the law, rather than by religion or sect. That's why there can be no democracy [in the Arab world]. Moreover, historically speaking, Islamic culture was founded on a system of government that has nothing to do with democracy. It was a separate system called "the caliphate."
The Arab region - as important as it may be as a bridge between Asia and Europe - is nothing but a strategic arena for the West, and a [supplier] of resources. The relations of the Arabs with the world should be studied. How come the Arabs are nothing but instruments? That's the first question. The second question is how come in the great Islamic [nation], there are no important scientific institutes and universities...
Interviewer: And research centers...
Adonis: There is not a single leading university throughout the Islamic world. How come among the 1.25 billion Muslims there isn't a single intellectual whom you could say interprets Islam in an innovative way? There are none. Islam today...
Interviewer: What about your colleagues like the late Sadeq [Jalal Al-Azm]...
Adonis: These people were ostracized. They were not Muslim intellectuals. They were ostracized. Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd is another example.
Interviewer: And [Mohammed Abed] Al-Jabri and Mohammed Arkoun...
Adonis: All were ostracized.
It is impossible to understand what is going on in the Arab countries as long as we continue to write "Israel" in inverted commas. Israel is a fundamental part of the picture. Secondly, it is impossible to understand what is going on in the Arab world if we exclude Europe and America from it. In the Arab-Islamic picture, there are two elements we must keep in our sights, in order to better understand our situation: We must examine the relationship between the Arabs, as a whole, and Israel - as well as the American and European "other," because they are variations of Israel in one way or another. This is our problem. Our first and foremost problem is internal, with our heritage.
Adonis: I once said, in a moment of despair, that we are a people undergoing extinction.
Interviewer: Yes, we have seen this interview before.
Adonis: When does a people become extinct? When it no longer has a creative presence that contributes to the building of the world.