"Nowadays the Arab countries are destroying their writers and cultures as such, but not a word has come from Western intellectuals," argued 86-year-old Adonis, who is regarded as one of the most influential Arab writers of our era. The man who released his first collection of poems in 1957 is still writing.
Various Islamic authorities and numerous scholars have issued death threats against Adonis for his criticism of Islam and have called for his books to be burned. Earlier, Adonis, who has a university degree from Damascus, had to leave his native country for Lebanon, since he was a member of a socialist party. As the civil war broke out in the 1980s, he moved to Paris where he has lived since.
A question of interpretation
"What is happening in the Arab countries is self-destruction. This is an economic, strategic warfare that is being forced upon the Arab world in the name of Islam, and the vast majority of Muslims are opposed. But they are denied the opportunity to express themselves," he said to Aftenposten.
"Islam was founded on tribal strife, conquest and lust for power. Today, Daesh enriches itself through oil, bank money and slavery," stated Adonis in his book on violence in Islam, nevertheless blaming the very emergence of Daesh on the USA.
Lingering responsibility for the colonial era
According to Adonis, some European countries historically bear a particular responsibility, he said.
"The three major countries that have colonized the world are England, France and Italy, yet they have not been entirely up to the mark as regards immigrants. They must also recognize that they have an ethical debt to the Arab nations. Germany and the Nordic countries have been much more generous than the former colonial powers," he argued.
Time to take action
"Most writers are merely clerks. When the Arab countries now destroy not only writers, but the culture as such, not a word comes from Western intellectuals," he maintained.
Colored revolutions not a panacea
"It's an incredible oversimplification to believe that everything will be okay, as soon as you change the regime. Over the past 50 years, Arab countries have been changing their regimes all the time, yet nothing has changed. Not only the state, but the society and the social institutions ought to change," he said.
"We dreamed that man was the center of the universe, and that everything should be about progress and clarity, but now we are experiencing the opposite. Nietzsche famously said that God is dead, but in fact it is man who is dead," he said.
Nobel Prize not an end in itself
According to Adonis, being persistently named candidate for the Nobel Prize without ever getting one does not bother him.
"It's not my problem at all. My problem is to write something good, that's what creating is all about," he concluded.