Bernard Lewis citations

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Bernard Lewis

Date de naissance: 31. mai 1916


Bernard Lewis, né le 31 mai 1916 à Stoke Newington, un quartier dans Londres, est un historien, professeur émérite des études sur le Moyen-Orient à l'université de Princeton, spécialiste du Moyen-Orient, notamment de la Turquie, et plus généralement du monde musulman et des interactions entre l'Occident et l'Islam. Il est l'auteur de nombreux ouvrages de référence sur le sujet. De citoyenneté britannique à sa naissance, il a aujourd'hui également acquis la nationalité américaine et israélienne.

Outre ses activités académiques, Bernard Lewis est un intellectuel engagé dans le combat politique. Il est connu pour sa défense d'Israël, l'apologie de l'interventionnisme des militaires dans la politique turque et pour sa négation du génocide arménien pour laquelle, en France, il fut condamné au civil, en vertu de l'article 1382 du code civil pour « faute » et pour avoir causé un dommage à autrui[pertinence contestée]. Il fut conseiller des services secrets britanniques lors de la Seconde Guerre mondiale[réf. nécessaire], consultant du Conseil de sécurité nationale des États-Unis, conseiller de Benyamin Netanyahou alors ambassadeur d'Israël à l'ONU [réf. nécessaire] et reste aujourd'hui un proche des néo-conservateurs,.

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Citations Bernard Lewis


„Coming back to Iraq, obviously the situation has been getting worse over time, but I think it is still salvageable. We now have a political process going on, and I think if one looks at the place and what's been happening there, one has to marvel at what has been accomplished. There is an old saying, no news is good news, and the media obviously work on the reverse principle: Good news is no news. Most of the good things that have happened have not been reported, but there has been tremendous progress in many respects. Three elections were held three fair elections in which millions of Iraqis stood in line waiting to vote and knowing they were risking their lives every moment that they did so. And all this wrangling that's going on now is part of the democratic process, the fact that they argue, that they negotiate, that they try to find a compromise. This is part of their democratic education.So I find all this both annoying and encouraging. I see that more and more people are becoming involved in the political process. And there's one thing in Iraq in particular that I think is encouraging, and that is the role of women. Of all the Arab countries, with the possible exception of Tunisia, Iraq is the one where women have made most progress. I'm not talking about rights, a word that has no meaning in that context. I'm talking about opportunity, access. Women in Iraq had access to education, to higher education, and therefore to the professions, and therefore to the political process to a degree without parallel elsewhere in the Arab world, as I said, with the possible exception of Tunisia. And I think that the participation of women the increasing participation of women is a very encouraging sign for the development of democratic institutions.“

— Bernard Lewis

„There are other difficulties in the way of accepting imperialism as an explanation of Muslim hostility, even if we define imperialism narrowly and specifically, as the invasion and domination of Muslim countries by non-Muslims. If the hostility is directed against imperialism in that sense, why has it been so much stronger against Western Europe, which has relinquished all its Muslim possessions and dependencies, than against Russia, which still rules, with no light hand, over many millions of reluctant Muslim subjects and over ancient Muslim cities and countries? And why should it include the United States, which, apart from a brief interlude in the Muslim-minority area of the Philippines, has never ruled any Muslim population? The last surviving European empire with Muslim subjects, that of the Soviet Union, far from being the target of criticism and attack, has been almost exempt. Even the most recent repressions of Muslim revolts in the southern and central Asian republics of the USSR incurred no more than relatively mild words of expostulation, coupled with a disclaimer of any desire to interfere in what are quaintly called the "internal affairs" of the USSR and a request for the preservation of order and tranquillity on the frontier.One reason for this somewhat surprising restraint is to be found in the nature of events in Soviet Azerbaijan. Islam is obviously an important and potentially a growing element in the Azerbaijani sense of identity, but it is not at present a dominant element, and the Azerbaijani movement has more in common with the liberal patriotism of Europe than with Islamic fundamentalism. Such a movement would not arouse the sympathy of the rulers of the Islamic Republic. It might even alarm them, since a genuinely democratic national state run by the people of Soviet Azerbaijan would exercise a powerful attraction on their kinsmen immediately to the south, in Iranian Azerbaijan.Another reason for this relative lack of concern for the 50 million or more Muslims under Soviet rule may be a calculation of risk and advantage. The Soviet Union is near, along the northern frontiers of Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan; America and even Western Europe are far away. More to the point, it has not hitherto been the practice of the Soviets to quell disturbances with water cannon and rubber bullets, with TV cameras in attendance, or to release arrested persons on bail and allow them access to domestic and foreign media. The Soviets do not interview their harshest critics on prime time, or tempt them with teaching, lecturing, and writing engagements. On the contrary, their ways of indicating displeasure with criticism can often be quite disagreeable.“

— Bernard Lewis


„What we have now come to regard as typical of Middle Eastern regimes is not typical of the past. The regime of Saddam Hussein, the regime of Hafiz al Assad, this kind of government, this kind of society, has no roots either in the Arab or in the Islamic past. It is due and let me be quite specific and explicit it is due to an importation from Europe, which comes in two phases.Phase one, the 19th century, when they are becoming aware of their falling behind the modern world and need desperately to catch up, so they adopt all kinds of European devices with the best of intentions, which nevertheless have two harmful effects. One, they enormously strengthen the power of the state by placing in the hands of the ruler, weaponry and communication undreamt of in earlier times, so that even the smallest petty tyrant has greater powers over his people than Harun al-Rashid or Suleyman the Magnificent, or any of the legendary rulers of the past.Second, even more deadly, in the traditional society there were many, many limits on the autocracy, the ruler. The whole Islamic political tradition is strongly against despotism. Traditional Islamic government is authoritarian, yes, but it is not despotic. On the contrary, there is a quite explicit rejection of despotism. And this wasn't just in theory; it was in practice too because in Islamic society, there were all sorts of established orders in society that acted as a restraining factor. The bazaar merchants, the craft guilds, the country gentry and the scribes, all of these were well organized groups who produced their own leaders from within the group. They were not appointed or dismissed by the governments. And they did operate effectively as a constraint.“

— Bernard Lewis

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