Monday, 3 January 2011

Avé Maria

Almost three years ago, I wrote two articles "here and here", on the effect of Identity and Faith on the collective mindset of people, and among what I wrote was that All aspects of human interaction contribute to the creation of culture, and before settling; the storm of culture-building acquires and sheds many aspects of the life of people as it takes the shape of Identity; language, Faith and even tolerance or ethnocentrism.

I'm mentioning this in the aftermath of the heinous crimes against Christian citizens of the East, namely Iraq a couple of months ago, and with the passing first few minutes of the year in Egypt.

Whomever is the perpetrator of these crimes is very much aware of the idea of National Identity, and as I have explained in the previous post, Nation states are extremely hard to fragment, with their solid backbone of historical -and in many cases genetic- composition, they're almost impossible to destroy, both Egypt and Iraq are in more ways than one considered to be Nation states; both are the cradles of the oldest civilizations in humanity, which has guaranteed continuous existence of a "nation/أمّة" with a distinct identity on both lands for thousands of years, and both have the sociological potential to survive as independent nations in the present and the future. I've chosen the term sociological, and not political or economic; since society is the heart of any human endeavour; it's the most consistent element that keeps people together through time, social contracts are the basis of constitutions; a collection of unwritten agreements to build -together, regardless of primary differences- an organism called a society, which in turn is the seed of collective identity, as it evolves into a melting pot of cultures and traditions, and eventually, distinguishes people with their unique texture, by it -the society- being One, among many.

The targeting of Christians in the East is a direct premeditated blow to an integral component of the Near Eastern societies of the Levant, Egypt and Iraq; the Christians of these lands are the descendants of the disciples of Jesus Christ and represent the longest continuous existence of Christianity in the world. It's an aware attempt to stir never before seen -or long forgotten- feelings of animosity and disengagement between people in the Holy Land; which can extend to include both Iraq and Egypt in both the Islamic and Christian narratives. It's been brewing in Lebanon for 30 years with a hit and miss approach, but has never seized to be instigated. Lebanon too, despite its size and limited resources, has the historical and human potential of survival as a singular nation state, at least in theory, and the survival of Lebanon despite all odds in the past 50 years is an indication of the above mentioned long-term potential.

In his book "طبائع الإستبداد" The Nature of Despotism, Al Kawakibi argues that the only way to achieve political reform is to achieve religious reform; this came from a man who was a religious teacher by virtue of his education, and a nationalist philosopher by trade.

In the 100 years since Kawakibi, nationalism has mutated into sub-genres of identities which in the eyes of their advocates are called national identities; the 22 nations of the Arab League each have their own version of that mutated national identity, but the fact remained that multi-denominational societies like Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and one can include Jordan, Syria and Palestine for the sake of scientific accuracy, have seldom had religious identity used as the primary means of self identification, -except for Lebanon due to its complex political composition- this diversity always complimented the pride of national affiliation to the land they're from, an Iraqi was always an Iraqi, so was an Egyptian, and certainly the Palestinian, even when he's faced with a counter identity called the Jewish state which has made a sudden but not surprising come-back in the Israeli political literature. When that national identity began to rattle under the feet of Iraqis, Egyptians or even the Sudanese with their imminent referendum of the cessation of the predominantly Christian south, Religion became the more concrete first line of defence -being part of a religious group- aka society, took over, and has become the means of finding distinction.

I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here but this is merely an attempt to comprehend; Why is it, that Christians are the target of whomever is targeting them, and why now? I would answer the first question with the following analysis:

Some disillusioned ignorant Muslims see Christians as an extension to foreign invasion, many of these suicide bombers come from societies that do not have Christians to begin with, like the gulf states for example, so to them Christians are alien infidels by default, or they're an extension to the Western Crusade against Islam, and if the recruits come from multi religious societies, they're brain-washed into believing that redemption begins with the cleansing -both ethnic and physical- of the land of Islam from "The Other" with an eerie reminder to the Jewish term Goyim, using misinterpreted Muslim narratives to prove their point, including the expulsion the Jewish tribes from Arabia when Islam conquered Mecca in 630 AD, for example.

We're facing a sociological crisis, which can only be resolved with democracy, and that is the key to economic progression, even with the involvement of the public sector, social justice is the key for economic justice, and political justice in the shape of equal opportunity is the key to civic peace; for as long as there's a group of people that feels that it is discriminated against with the power of the law, or another group that believes that those who are of a different faith are destroying the Islamic identity of any given nation; any loop hole of this kind which allows the passage of bad elements, or as they're known in our genius media "The Few Rotten Apples"- to invade and feed hatred between compatriots, will have us fall and never rise from our own self burned aches; The Nature of Despotism -the human behaviour, not the book in this instance- so predicts.

In Jordan, the religious card isn't really viable, but rather the one based on the cardinal directions of Earth, a compass is all you need to stir tensions in Jordan, with the likes of the paper doll leaders of the Faisali-Wihdat incident who would ride any wave to achieve their 15 minutes of fame, which is another story for another day.

The enduring rule of thumb remains, that the Illusion of knowledge is far more dangerous than Ignorance itself.


  1. Very interesting Ammar. I totally agree with "We're facing a sociological crisis, which can only be resolved with democracy, and that is the key to economic progression, even with the involvement of the public sector, social justice is the key for economic justice, and political justice in the shape of equal opportunity is the key to civic peace"

    Its a sad sad situation !

  2. Hi Tamara, unfortunately it is, and it's getting worse by the day.