Thursday, September 8, 2011

Minorities And Tyranny

By Abdullah Iskandar
Following the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, hideous murders, human tragedies and unprecedented violations were committed in Iraq at the hands of extremist terrorist groups and armed militias, but also at the hands of the regular and occupying forces. However, civil infighting and the behavior of the local forces were the ones that remained engraved in memories, thus causing a bitterness which will not be forgotten soon, especially in the ranks of the religious and ethnic minorities. For its part, the political process failed to dissipate the fear of seeing the return of blind violence to the country.
And following the toppling of the regimes of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the Islamic powers – whether the moderate or extremist ones – surfaced on the political arenas, and some of their slogans raised fears in the ranks of the political and religious minorities. In Libya, the Islamists played a prominent military role in the fighting against Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi’s regime and the remnants of his rule, which also raised questions in regard to the role of these forces in the future of the country and the extent of the stringency they will impose on it.
Before the eruption of the revolution and the toppling of the ruling regimes from Iraq to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, a stability in form prevailed over societies in these countries. This gave the impression that these regimes constituted some sort of protection shield to the minorities and that change would introduce the Islamists and extremism in a way threatening these minorities.
The latter experiences might have been on the mind of the Maronites’ spiritual leader Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi when he expressed - during his recent visit to Paris - fear over the minorities from change, but also when he hinted at the repercussions of any change in Damascus over the status of the Christians in Syria and Lebanon.
However, this logic in form links societal stability, including the status of the minorities, to the tyrannical regimes that existed in the past, but also links change to the possible placing of these minorities at risk.
This logic in form is ignoring the factors that prompted extremism to grow beneath the ashes under tyrannical regimes that hijacked political life in their basement and prevented all the other factions from participating in it. Moreover, it ignored the fact that these regimes encouraged and sponsored this extremism through their apparatuses, and equally practiced oppression against the other powers in the country. One can thus confidently say that tyranny is the source of extremism in all its forms, and especially the religious one.
This is not only true at the level of these groups which were sponsored and exploited by the security apparatuses in their battles, but also at the level of the development of fundamentalist ideology in some circles, under the rule of the tyrannical regimes.
Change in Iraq occurred in light of a military invasion, while the political process was launched under an American occupation and an Iranian hegemony over the Shiite groups in the country. This cannot be generalized at the level of the other Arab uprisings being staged against tyranny, and yearning to get rid of it through the establishment of the bases of a civil and democratic state.
In the presence of such a state, the minorities will be rid of two persecutions: the persecution of tyranny and their persecution as minorities. In other words, change toward civil regimes and states of institutions will serve the minorities – whether they are religious, ethnic or political – just as it will serve the majorities.
Society in Lebanon is suffering from a multifaceted tyranny, mostly linked to the tyranny in the surrounding states. As for the extremism and fundamentalism in it, they are also linked to this tyranny. Consequently, any change within the neighbors toward a civil state and a state of the law will serve all its factions, whether they are majorities or minorities, and such a change should be demanded by the minorities instead of provoking their fear.
-This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 07/09/2011
-Abdullah Iskandar is the managing editor of al-Hayat in London

No comments:

Post a Comment