The Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Center (Opera House) organized a lecture on Nov 30 evening under the title ‘Culture of Luxury or Survival’. The speaker at the event was former Minister of Information Saad bin Tefla. The moderator of the event was another former Minister of Information Mohammad Al-Sanousi.
Professor Ben Tefla said the culture has several linguistic interpretations. It also means literature and business acumen. He added, the intellectual may not be educated, but polite in his behavior and this is not limited to education.
He said the culture also means civilization, and to be different from others and that the word takes its meaning from the opposite. In this perspective everything is contrary to the person and there is a need to live with it, not run away from it.
He continued saying the principle of cancellation has no place in culture because no one does away with either with their cultures or their diversities, or fights to promote one culture at the expense of another because the culture is the survival in itself and cannot be done away with. We must live with the cultural diversity to survive because it is not a luxury.
He said there are differences in the communities, most notably racism and sectarian, ethnicity and others, and there is no homogeneous society. But the concept of coexistence and acceptance of others are diverse from one community to another.
He said the acceptance of the cultures of others in spite of differences is not based on the principle of luxury, but this is done for the very survival. For example, if someone wants his/her culture to survive, he/she cannot demand that the cultures of others should be done away with, because you will fall prey to such behavior but the diversities and cultures shall survive.
I did not have the opportunity to be a part of the event, because I was abroad for medical treatment but my friend (the lecturer) and those who made their comments on the lecture were cautious on the subject of differences between peoples.
If the lecture was held behind closed doors, or in a more liberal and open atmosphere, we might have heard the words more clearly. However, that does not greatly reduce the importance of what was said.
It also found that the definition of the term ‘intellectual’ was incomplete as if this intellectual has nothing to do with religious issues and attitudes, particularly Islamic. In my point of view I think it is difficult to be extremists or committed to religion and at the same time claim to be educated, regardless of the degree of knowledge or literature or studies.
The followers of religions remain sharply divided in varying intensities from one religion to another. It is therefore difficult to describe a human being as intellectual while rejecting the followers of others either in affinity, co-existence or even fate.
In order for the educated human being to be accepted, without reservation, the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, must be fully accepted, knowing that a majority of the Muslims reject the most vital points of utmost importance, such as the rights of women, and the subsequent custody of children, inheritance and many others. Then can those who reject such principles be considered intellectual?
The relationship between faith and human rights not only come from the importance of those principles, but from the belief in them and the need to learn various sciences, how to be impartial, tolerant, benevolent, acceptance of others, doing away with extremism. All these basics form the definition of an intellectual.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf