Millions of disabled people in Arab and north African societies face exclusion and discrimination – and almost certain poverty
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 5 December 2009
"....This isn't just a question of Arab society acknowledging the existence of disabled people, it's about acknowledging their place within the spectrum of "ordinary" life.
The problem though, as Brian Whitaker points out in his recent book What's Really Wrong With the Middle East, is that the idea of society being vibrant, pluralistic and above all a forum in which individuals can legitimately carve out their own personal thought and space in their own manner – and still be an accepted part of the community – is one that is stubbornly denied through social norms inculcated through both the family and school systems. Educational models in the Arab World tends to encourage "submission, obedience, subordination and compliance, rather than free critical thinking"; in other words, children are taught that the best route to success is to accept their parents and schoolteachers vision of the world unquestionably and to learn it by rote.
It is little wonder, then, that the Middle East's disabled population struggle to be accorded the status of productive, self-expressive individuals that they deserve, but are instead diminished into caricatures. Government neglect of the disabled is unacceptable, but the real challenges start closer to home."