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In fact, I've just realised that if you want to run around splitting the world up into cultural groups then Europe and the Mediterranean basin and stretching through the Arab world is a natural grouping: shared religion, significant ancient trading and political links, shared philosophical and political heritage to a large extent until very recently.
Greek philosophy was kept alive in Arab (and persian) lands for centuries before they communicated it to the Europeans in time for the Renaissance.
Secularism ? See Turkey, and a fair share of the Arab world was ready to secularize 50 years ago. Except the people willing to secularize were commies, so the west funded the religious fundies.
Treatment of women? 30 years ago a wife couldn't open her own bank account without the husband agreeing, in France.
Most of the Arab and muslim world is undergoing a fundamentalist propaganda campaign funded by Saoudian oil. If a similar amount of money was poured into religious organisations in the West, it would very quickly unsecularise.
I'm not sure about 400 years ago, but
Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
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