News and features editor, SciDev.Net
Ahmed Zewail was the star speaker here today. He is not just a Nobel prizewinner in chemistry but an intellectual at ease in both the Middle East and the West. So he took the opportunity to berate those journalists who represent the latter for the West’s negative perception of the Islamic world.
“Arabs are demonised,” he said, saying they are generally depicted as violent and anti-American. The Egyptians demonstrating “civility in their uprising” in Tahrir Square show this image is wrong, he said.
More relevant to science journalists, the common believe that Islam is in conflict with progress, is wrong, he said.
“There is nothing fundamental in Islam that is against science.”
And as for the “conflict of civilisations” theory that has gained currency, thanks to academics at Harvard University, United States, he said: “I don’t see any physics in such theories.
“The bottom line is that people want liberty and a good life to live.”