OPINION

The great delusion

Islamic culture has made numerous significant contributions to medical science. At the peak of the Arab renaissance, when Baghdad was the center of science and arts, the Persian Avicenna wrote his famous «Canon of Medicine» that served as a medical textbook for Europe’s healers for six centuries. No profession carries more prestige in the Arab world than that of the physician. Some 1,900 Iraqis and 6,000 scientists from all over the Middle East are currently working in the British NHS. The British public has been shocked by reports that most of the suspects in the three recent failed car bombings in London and Glasgow were doctors or trained medical staff from Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and India. How can these young, talented people abide by the Hippocratic Oath in the morning, yet in the evening spread destruction in the service of another former doctor and son of Cairo aristocrats, Ayman al-Zawahri? We should be outraged but not surprised. The events of 9/11 were followed by a great delusion. Many Westerners took comfort in the reassuring thought that terrorism finds fertile ground in the mass of poor and illiterate people who easily surrender themselves to the sermons of the imam, preferring a glorious end to constant humiliation. The others, we thought, those who were fortunate to study at our own universities and enjoy themselves at our nightclubs would become the best advertisers of our own, superior civilization. We believed that the Iraqi who drove the burning car in Glasgow would forget not only the «Shock and Awe» campaign and the mutilated bodies he strived to save in Baghdad, but also his Western colleagues in Abu Ghraib. Finally, we thought that he would have no problem seeing those who bombed his country attracting its top scientists to fill vacancies in Britain’s crumbling health system. We are like train passengers waking up at the moment of the crash.