Back in the Middle East for a few months, I find myself astounded by the absence of the strong voices of Arab intellectuals.
The region that has given rise to the likes of Michel Aflaq, George Habash, Rached al-Ghannouchi, Edward Said and numerous others has marginalized its intellectuals.
Arab visionaries have either been coopted by the exuberant funds allocated to sectarian propaganda, been silenced by fear of retribution, or are simply unable to articulate a collective vision that transcends their sects, religions or whatever political tribe they belong to.
This void created by the absence of Arab intellectuals (reduced to talking heads with few original ideas, and engaged in useless TV ‘debates’) has been filled by extremist voices tirelessly advocating a genocidal future for everyone.
It is no secret that Arabs and Muslims are by far the greatest victims of extremism.
Strange as this may sound, religious scholars seem more united in countering the voices that hijacked religion to promote their dark political agendas.
Yet despite repeated initiatives, cries of Muslim scholars who represent majority of Muslims worldwide have garnered little media attention.
For example, in June 2016, nearly 100,000 Muslim clerics in Bangladesh signed a religious decree (Fatwa) condemning the militant group, Daesh.
Such Fatwas are quite common, and many thousands of Arab Muslim scholars have done the same.
Although hardly popular among Muslims in the Middle East, Asia,…