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Stephen Hawking: A Giant Who Was Not Acknowledged By The Arab World

Al-Mada, Iraq, March 20

With the unfortunate passing of Stephen Hawking, one cannot help but stop to reflect on the life of this great giant. I am surely not qualified enough to speak or write about Hawking’s monumental achievements in the field of physics, but like many other people I, too, couldn’t help but be amazed at the contributions he made to humanity; this, despite not being able to move or speak, a man given two years to live who ended up becoming the undisputed successor to none other than Albert Einstein. On a more personal level, one cannot help but admire Hawking for visiting Birzeit University in Ramallah a few years ago, while refusing to visit the Zionist entity or meet with its leaders. He was a staunch human rights advocate and did not shy away from expressing his admiration for the Palestinian people, despite strong pressure against him from the pro-Israel lobby. Sadly, however, Hawking never received the honor he deserved from us in the Arab world. Instead of celebrating his accomplishments, many of us labeled him an infidel. His teachings were banned and outlawed in more than one Arab country, as they challenged the teachings of Islam. This is a sad and uneasy truth, yet one that we must acknowledge. What have we offered to humanity? What has the Arab world done to advance mankind? Unfortunately, nothing. We have come to rely on Western inventions, use Western technologies and enjoy Western medical inventions—all the while dismissing Western science as useless and labeling Western researchers as heretics. This is the worst kind of hypocrisy. Let’s be honest: if Stephen Hawking had lived in the Arab world, he would have been a beggar on the street and not an accomplished scientist who left such an incredible legacy behind. – Udnan Hussein

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