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The New Arab

Stephen Hawking: Between scientific brilliance and humanitarian principles

On Syria, Hawking asked: Where is our emotional intelligence, our sense of collective justice?

Date of publication: 15 March, 2018

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Tributes poured in on social media as the Arab World remembered the renowned scientists' achievements and pro-justice stances.

Tributes poured in on Wednesday as the world remembered prominent British physicist Stephen Hawking, not only for his brilliant contribution to the scientific world, but also for his humanitarian stances.

Hawking, who passed away on Wednesday aged 76, achieved international acclaim after he published his book A Brief History of Time, tackling general relativity and quantum mechanics.

In an article in the Guardian in 2014, Hawking said, "What's happening in Syria is an abomination, one that the world is watching coldly from a distance. Where is our emotional intelligence, our sense of collective justice?"

"Today in Syria we see modern technology in the form of bombs, chemicals and other weapons being used to further so-called intelligent political ends. But it does not feel intelligent to watch as more than 100,000 people are killed or while children are targeted. It feels downright stupid, and worse, to prevent humanitarian supplies from reaching clinics where, as Save the Children will document in a forthcoming report, children are having limbs amputated for lack of basic facilities, and newborn babies are dying in incubators for lack of power."

Social media users also remembered his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which also calls for an academic boycott of Israel. In 2013, Hawking withdrew from a conference in Israel based on the advice of Palestinian academics, saying he has decided to "respect the boycott".

But Hawking's support for Palestine was not limited to the academic boycott. He invited millions of his followers on Facebook to donate to the first Palestinian Advanced Physics School, which offered physics lessons to master students in the occupied West Bank.

He also spoke out against the Iraq war, slamming the American and British involvement in what he described as a war crime "based on two lies."



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