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It was assumed that with the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime that Iraq would become a center of modern enlightenment, from which other Arab states would learn the democratic process from based on the consideration that Iraq will influence and be influenced.

It was also believed that Iraq would be transformed into a scientific center and an educational hub for both European and American scholars, where we would see Iraqis there as students and researchers, rather than political asylum seekers fleeing from post-Saddam Hussein suppression.

But what has happened instead? Today, we see the doors of scholarship widely open for Iran, where convoys of new students have formed! The most prominent example here is Mr. Muqtada al Sadr, who wants to be awarded the title of ‘authority’ overnight, without even completing the basics required in obtaining such a degree.

Qualifying Mr. Muqtada al Sadr (which according to some Iraqi sources is with the goal of making him the ‘Hassan Nasrallah’ of Iraq), will likely be done through the Iranian Minister of Interior, who recently claimed to have an honorary doctorate from Oxford, something the university flatly denied.

And that’s not all, instead of Washington setting up educational activities that justify their military presence in Iraq; we find ourselves in front American centers that aim to teach ‘true Islam’ in Baghdad, similar to what is happening inside the Boca detention camp in Iraq, where a ‘repentant’ extremist arrested twice on charges of terrorism teaches the Sunnis and Shias ‘true Islam’.

Dear God! This simply means that our turbulent region is in for many long nights. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) have their own vision of true Islam, the Iranians have another vision, the results of which can be seen in Lebanon, Iraq and many regions in our Arab world, which has resulted in black turbans (Shia Authorities Headdress) and subversion.

We have our own vision of what true Islam is and our extremists have another, the results of which are seen in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. It has culminated into terrorism that is almost ravaging our Arab countries without exception. The question is; when will this end?

The fierce power struggle between Fatah and Hamas has also reached the Educational system and naturally the victims here are an entire generation of the Palestinians, whose minds will be contaminated by education instead of weapons this time around. While in Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh addressed the imams of the mosques and the members in charge of the propagation of virtue and prevention of vice, specifying what is permissible and impermissible for them.

This is all done in the name of democracy, and each party’s perception of the righteousness they claim to have. The truth is that all of us are victims of the politicization of religion and the absence of political awareness. A few days ago, Dr. Jaber Habib Jaber wrote an informative article called ‘The Political Amoebae’, explaining the reality of the situation in both Iraq and Lebanon in terms of the absence of awareness of political and partisan action; an important and useful article.

The danger of what is taking place in our region, is that our politics is shrouded in a religious cloak by all involved including fundamentalists, revolutionaries, secularists and even the Americans. In addition to striving too much for simple solutions where no one wants to say stop this tampering, starting with the exploiting of religion.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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