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Marriage and democracy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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What links the experience of marriage and the experience of democracy in the Arab world?

This is not a trick question, like the riddles aired during the “fawazir Ramadan” television shows.

The short answer is that both are painful and tiring experiences riddled with problems in the first hundred years, after which everything becomes easier!

Of course the meaning of my answer is that Arab marriage and Arab democracy are not stable at all! Perhaps one of the reasons for a failed marriage is “personal stubbornness”, whereby each side is keen to uphold their own ego, and thus the partnership of marriage transforms into a game of personal animosity with each side trying to impose their style and manner and defend their interests alone, without taking the other side into account.

“Personal stubbornness” and an inflated sense of self-importance are also causes that have led to the failure of governance experiences in the Arab world.

Rarely have we found in the Arab world a ruler engaged in a state of objective disagreement with his opponents, and most disputes that reach the stage of arrests, clashes and assassinations can be traced back to personal reasons.

Because of this we see disputes laden with tribal, family, regional, sectarian or historical origins. We find forces in the Arab world in a permanent state of disagreement primarily because there is a traditional “historical culture” of dispute between the people of one region and another, or the members of this tribe with that one, or the followers of this doctrine and that one, all carried out without strong reasons or motives in the first place.

When you ask someone for the reasons behind their current conflict, they will simply reply: “We have been brought up since we were children to believe that the followers of this sect are infidels, or that this tribe is treacherous, or that this regime is corrupt!” Then you return and ask what they consider to be the most appropriate solution to the matter? They will respond, with utter calmness: “We must overthrow and destroy them down to the last man and woman”!

We talk about democracy but we practice exclusion, we call for the transfer of power but we also try to rule forever, we promote the slogans of justice, equality and civil liberties, but in reality we consecrate injustice, discrimination and repression!

Did I not tell you: democracy in our countries is like marriage; very painful for the first hundred years!