Without education, success is impossible

David Busch

Abdullah al-Bayati, a professor at Mustansiriya University in Iraq, meandered slowly into Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s office, with his bloodied and torn clothes dragging on the ground and his untreated wounds on his face screaming calls of help. The next day the university was closed in Iraq.

Young students at International Islamic University walked to the university’s cafeteria to settle their hunger and give them fuel for further study. Suddenly there was an earth-shattering blast. Four were dead and 18 others were wounded. Following the attack, the university was closed in Pakistan.

Mustansiriya University is one of the most prestigious universities in Iraq, but since the beginning of the U.S. invasion it has been run and controlled by a military gang called the Student League. If the Student League doesn’t like their grades, they beat their professors, even kill them at times. Al-Bayati is just one case. If the Student League doesn’t approve of the curriculum, administrators are attacked. If other students disagree with the gang, the students themselves become targets.

Since 2007, The New York Times reported bombings at the institution have killed or injured more than 335 students and staff members. A 12-foot-high blast wall has been built, making the university look more like a prison.

Islamic International University in Pakistan enrolls students from all over the world and stands out as a true ivory tower in a region ravaged by war and misunderstandings. With the growing Pakistani Military forces building in Waziristan and the drone attacks by the U.S., this university, sadly, has become a target of the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Although college may be tough to afford with rising tuition costs, as Kent State students we know that our lives are not at risk by studying Nietzsche or economics. Suicide bombings and military gangs are unfathomable here at Kent State. But for students at Islamic International University and Mustansiriya University, it is a reality that they must face every day; a reality that puts their college education – their broader understandings and connections to the world – at risk.

My college education has enabled me to study Ibn Battuta and Nana Asma’u. I’ve learned about the expansive Islamic empire of the Middle Ages that stretched from the Philippines to Northern Africa and Spain. I’ve learned about the glorious intellectualism that pervaded in Baghdad during this time. I’ve learned about the Ottoman Empire that defended itself against European imperialism for centuries. However, I have also learned about the Armenian Genocide, Saddam’s greed and the struggle of women within Islam. My education has given me a realistic view of the Arab world: the pains, the glories and the complexity.

Students at Islamic International University and Mustansiriya University have the opportunity to study Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and the founding of the U.S. Constitution; the opportunity to study Thomas Paine, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and understand the hidden rebellious spirit of America.

However, they also have the opportunity to study America’s treatment of the Native Americans, the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the extensive death toll of Filipino civilians in the U.S. offensive in the Philippines at the end of World War II.

Education will offer these students a realistic understanding of the American identity and spirit: filled with good-hearted intentions but imperfect and full of mistakes.

Education opens up doors and makes connections across ethnicities and religions. Education crosses national borders. Education empowers us to question authority intelligently and collectively. Education is power, more powerful than a build up of troops and weapons.

This education is not safe in Pakistan. This education is not safe in Iraq. And without education, without an educated populace that demands equality, democracy and understanding, no military gain or political handshake will make a lasting difference. ?

David Busch is a junior history and psychology major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]