at a crossroads

President Bouteflika spoke eloquently and forcefully on the "cultural wasteland filled by a vindictive and reductive religious view," in his inaugural address to Arab writers, poets, artists and philosophers at the inauguration of the "Algiers, Capital of Arab Culture." He specifically referred to the "dark decade" in Algeria, when "the intellectuals who vitalize cultural life were targeted by a terrorism without faith or law," but also stressed that thoughout the Arab world the intellectuals and creative members of society are the wealth of the Arab nations, better able than anyone to know the social realities and to feel the "quiverings and aspirations" of the societies from which they come.

He continued (and please forgive any errors in translation): "We have, in our nations, paid a heavy price for this internal and external evolution in terms of the degradation of national expressions of Arab culture...We find ourselves now at the crossroads: either we will react and reinvent, if you'd like, the content of Arab culture which will regain its vitality and will participate, in its humanism, by heralding a society which is sure of itself toward the creation of a harmonious world, or we will be condemned by our own cultural errancy to become prey to the dominant cultures imposed by the hegemonic powers that be."

Clearly this is a critical time, or a crossroads, as he so well put it, for the Arab world.

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