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Waiting for courage! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Disagreements may spoil goodwill as evidenced by the sequence of events in the Arab world. Polarization over positions and viewpoints and infighting can soon develop into slander and defamation and even exchanged accusations of sedition and treason. There is an increasing number of worrisome examples regarding the rising anger in the Arab street and this is visible in the media, our mosques, and on our streets. In fact, the absence of needed avenues to vent this anger is now something that can no longer be overlooked.

The absence of an approach that encourages debate and dialogue in schools and educational institutions has resulted in intransigent opinions, with any voice of dissent being considered alien and strange and therefore deviant. As a result, there is a belief that such opinions must be suppressed and confronted, creating an unrestrained climate of suspicion and exchanged accusations of treason. This is something that has developed and increased until it created a general culture of rejecting “the other”, which is clear to see in various different sectors and fields. Therefore it is ultimately no surprise when we see concerning examples of this in the new media, and this includes cursing and insults, as well as the defamation of ethnicities, sects, ideologies and races. This is something that reveals critical social failings and represents a lethal human defect.

It is therefore clear today that the ideological, religious, social and sectarian struggle – which is very flammable in the Arab world – can be attributed to the absence of dialogue, culture and the principle of accepting others in a civilized and decent manner. The Arabs desperately need to reconcile with one another. Previously, they expelled the Jews from their states (whether willingly or unwillingly), whilst now we have the on-going displacement of Christians thanks to the emergence of a reckless hard-line extremist voice that completely rejects understanding or coexistence.

The Arab world will soon be free of Christians. Signs of this have become increasingly apparent and it will only be a question of time before this is achieved. Following this, it will be the turn of other Islamic sects and denominations to face the chop; we will see the “purification” of all voices of dissent in an on-going and sustained manner. Such episodes will be endless once they start, as humanity’s appetite for exterminating voices of dissent and “the other” can be attested to by history, and this is something that we have seen in different forms in past civilizations and ages. Indeed there are literally dozens of examples that confirm this in a crystal clear manner.

The Arab world is the cradle of different cultures and civilizations. It is the Arab world’s fate to be the home of human diversity. Hence, the assumption that everything can be “revised” to produce a “homogeneous” form is completely naïve. Such discourse cannot be considered serious, acceptable or respectful. Nevertheless, such fundamental discourse does exist and we must neither ignore nor forget this.

Alongside the Arab Spring, there are those who will jump on the bandwagon, feign religious belief and the promotion of virtue. Such slogans facilitate the betrayal of principles, as well as the spread of rumours that incite panic, fear, worry and suspicion, creating a fearful and panic-stricken society whose members will not be able to produce anything, think for themselves or feel reassured or safe about anything. This is how fragile societies are created and controlled; those seeking freedom, dignity and hope must not be treated with suspicion regarding their religious affiliations, doctrines or indeed innermost desires, based on naïve reasons.

However these laudable demands have been reduced to comic scenes that are insulting to a great religion and society, but which benefit a category that is completely ignorant of religion, tolerance and benevolence and which is driven by a half-ignorant mob. Arab societies are in desperate need for a serious review which will allow sources of extremism and fanaticism to be exposed and confronted. This is something that has yet to be fulfilled and it requires considerable courage. All the discourse that we have seen in this regard has lacked the requisite courage and steadfastness; this means that the upheaval and anger in the Arab street will continue until further notice. This state of affairs will persist until this issue can be comprehensively tackled and resolved, however ultimately what is required is unprecedented courage and unexpected daring.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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