Robert Kilroy-Silk is a former British Labour politician turned TV pundit who recently made a fool of himself by branding Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb amputators, women repressors. The learned Kilroy-Silk went on to argue that: " We owe Arabs nothing, apart from oil, which was discovered, is produced and is paid for by the west, what do they contribute?" Well, quite a lot it seems, according to an informative rebuttal by Derek Brown in today's Guardian. The pointed arch, for example, which characterizes gothic architecture, was an idea brought back from the Middle East by the early crusaders.
In the field of literature:
Writing is a key part of the Arab nation's bequest to the world. Paper was introduced from China before the end of the first Christian millennium, freeing Arab writers from the costly straitjacket of parchment and papyrus, some 300-400 years before paper reached Western Europe. The result was a torrent of poetry and prose, philosophy and scholarship, learning and entertainment. This was the era of The Thousand and One Nights and of vast public libraries. There were astronomical observatories, pharmaceutical laboratories and medical schools. And most of these were flourishing before England's King Alfred was born.
Brown includes "some useful links for Mr Kilroy-Silk".
Arab achievements in mathematics
Abbasid golden age in Baghdad
The Defra view
Arab search engine
Early Arab literatureArab music
The importance of poetry in Arab life
The Thousand and One Nights
Ancient and modern Arab art
Astronomy in Baghdad
Early Arab architecture (pictures)Contemporary Arab architecture