Alaa Al Aswany on a Clash of Civilizations

al Aswany: I must tell you that it is not totally innocent in the sense that it is for the interest of some people in power in the West and in the Arab world to keep this conflict on, you see?  I don’t see, if you’re talking, if we think about the term clash of the civilization, it is terrible because it doesn’t make sense because it was, we had never in history a clash of civilization.  Why?  Because if you are civilized, you are tolerant, and if you are not tolerant, you are not civilized.  There was never a clash between civilization.  The clash was between kingdoms and empires to control more money and power, and that’s exactly what is still happening, you see?  I believe that it is the question of knowledge.  We must get closer to each other.  We must know that we could be different in many aspects but we are human beings.  We must know that nobody has the right to think that we are the good guys and you are the bad guys.  This is not true.  If you’re talking about the Arab world, the Arab world has been suffering from terrorists as much as the West, you see.  Osama bin Laden is not talking in my name, and Osama bin Laden is not talking in the name of millions of Arabs, most of the Arab world.  The vast majority of the Arab world see Osama bin Laden as a criminal and terrorist, you see?  And, also, I don’t think that George Bush, to me, has the right to present the West, you see?  To me, George Bush is not presenting the West.  I would say Ernest Hemingway is presenting the West and not George Bush.  George Bush is presenting the [machination] of corporations, you see.  And this is very important, to have the right vision of the world, you see, to get closer and to see that people are people everywhere and the conflict is not between civilizations.  The conflict is between the people who would like to make more money.  They don’t care about the human values and the ordinary people.  I see the world divided into two sides, in the human side and the non human side.  On the human side, most of the people are on the human side.  In the West, in the Arab world, in India, in China, I mean, they are ordinary people who would like to work very hard to get better education for their children, you see, and to have a free world and a life with much respect in human rights, and you have the non human side where the imperialistic people like Mr. George Bush and Dick Chaney were presenting the [machination] of corporations.  They are on that non human side.  The terrorists like Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and these other people, [our] Arab dictators and dictators all over the world are on the non human side, and I believe that this is the real conflict, you see, and it’s not the conflict between ethnic groups. 

If we just understood that we are all human beings first and foremost, we would not be witnessing many of the struggles we are seeing today.

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