Communication and the Culture of Democracy: Global Media and Promotion of Democracy in the Middle East

By Al-Obaidi, Jabbar | International Journal of Instructional Media, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Communication and the Culture of Democracy: Global Media and Promotion of Democracy in the Middle East


Al-Obaidi, Jabbar, International Journal of Instructional Media


INTRODUCTION

The Middle East refers to the lands around the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. In this paper, however, the Middle East term refers to the Arab countries in specific. The central part of this general area was formerly called the Near East, a name given to it by some of the first modern Western geographers and historians (Encyclopedia Britannica.) The Middle East in general and the Arab world in particular have long held an important place in world affairs, as reflected in the selective attention given to the region in the western media and economic relations with the region, and the alternative policies and actions available. Perhaps, the most four important issues that draw much of the mid 1990s' selective attention of the western media were: proved reserves of oil, the peace process in the Middle East, the teaching of democracy in the area, and the issue of a more defined future of geopolitical relation with the West so that to keep such a healthy regional and global interaction with the concerned countries in the region. One must think that this is a positive sign for the region to have been considered by the global media and the world leaders and politicians. In fact, these four issues ate truly valid. The Middle Eastern countries should take great pride in their strategic locations and their cultural heritage and civilization. In addition, maintaining the notion of an unbroken continuity between ancient and modern Middle Eastern region is an essential element in the preservation of their self-image.

Historically, the Middle East region was the host of great civilizations and a theatre for the main three religions Judaism, Christine and Islam. Chester G. Starr pointed out "The term "civilization" has many meanings. (Starr, 1991, p. 27). He went on to confirm, a civilization, also comes with certain fundamental characteristics of civilized society. Among these characteristics are the following

   the presence of firmly organized states which had definite
   boundaries and systematic political institution, under political
   and religious leaders, who directed and also maintained society,
   the distinction of social classes; the economic specialization of
   men as farmer, trader, or artisan, each dependent upon his follows;
   and the conscious development of the arts and intellectual
   attitudes". :(Starr, 1991, p. 27) Certainly, the first civilization
   of Mesopotamia, and the second civilization in Egypt had maintained
   these characteristics with even a strongly recognized ways of
   sounded cc monumental architecture and sculpture, the use of
   writing to keep accounts or to commemorate deeds, and the
   elaboration of religious views about the nature of the gods, their
   relations to men, and the origin of the world". (Starr, 1991. p.27)

Currently, Middle East consists of 25 (this number includes Iran and Turkey) independent states, with different flags, national anthems, political systems, economic policies, and communication and mass media patterns. The majority of scholars and international experts view these countries as great partners because of their people, their potentials, and their outstanding civilization and history. Their contributions to humanity include almost everything, such as the invention of letters, first form of writing, Arabic numerals, and the exercise of the oldest form of oral communication.

WRITING AND LOGOSYLLABIC

A case in point is the ancient Egyptian writing. It was a logosyllabic one, having symbols representing either complete words or syllables of words; identical signs were used for syllables with identical consonants but different vowels. According to the external form of the signs, the writing is classified as hieroglyphic when it is found on inscriptions on stone. Furthermore, for ancient Egyptians, communication was seen as the exchange of meanings between individuals through a common system of symbols. …

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