Democracy and Dialogue Forum Discusses ‘Can Non-Europeans Think?’

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As part of its continuous efforts to educate and raise youth’s awareness, PalThink for Strategic Studies held today, Thursday, a book discussion session of “Can Non-Europeans Think?”, by Iranian writer Hamid Dabashi, within the activities of the Pal-Think Academy for Democracy and Human Rights project, supported by the German Federal Foreign Office’s funds by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), Funding Programme zivik.
Attended by nearly 40 members of the Democracy and Human Rights Forum, the session was moderated by Aya Ashour, who opened the session by welcoming the participants. “This session is part of a series of sessions, meetings, and workshops carried out by PalThink to raise youth’s awareness about contemporary issues,” she said.
For his part, PalThink’s Director, Omar Shaaban, said during the session in his welcoming speech that his organization “strongly believes in young people, and therefore, it works through this and other sessions to raise their awareness to enable them to exercise their role in the development and renaissance of society.”
The first half of the book was presented by Nour Nassar, who said that the book bears the same title as an article published by the author on Al-Jazeera in 2013, which gained unprecedented popularity. The book relies heavily on critical thinking, she said.
“The writer referred to Europe as ethnocentric, as it treats the rest of the ‘heretical’ countries with arrogance, considering them without an existential purpose, describing itself as the knowing subject, and the rest of the world as an object of knowledge. And Europeans describe themselves as the global intellectuals,” she said.
The second half of the book, it was presented by Muhammad Murtaja, who talked about the writer’s vision of the internal conflicts that the Arab region is going through, emphasizing the importance of uniting different forces such as Islamists and secularists and Sunnis and Shiites, pointing out that internal conflict in the Arab region reinforces Islamophobia.
Murtaja pointed to the writer’s view of the Arab Spring as a third Palestinian uprising, as it represents a rebellion against Western imperialism, of which Israel is its instrument in the region. Murtaja also mentioned that the writer criticizes Europe’s belief that capitalism can only succeed in the West because they are the only ones capable of thinking.
The audience raised several issues related to topics discussed in the book, foremost of which is the role of the Palestinian thinker Edward Said in defending the East and Europe before the Renaissance, when the Church fought science and philosophy. The participants agreed on the importance of freedom from mental colonization through thinking, writing, and knowledge and scientific production.