Adonis Diaries

Are “Arab Moderates” on the Brink of Extinction? How do you define a moderate person anyway?

Posted on: May 7, 2013

Are “Arab Moderates” on the Brink of Extinction?

Around 1840, the Christian Maronite peasants working for the Druze landlords in the Mount Lebanon, in the Chouf and the southern part of the Mountain, experienced a huge increase in these provinces.   Maronites peasants became sort of majority in many villages.

The Maronite clergy wanted to extend its power base and incited the Maronite peasants to confront the dominant leadership. A quick massacre of the peasants who were not equipped to face the warlike Druze convinced the Maronite clergy that the timing was deadly wrong: The Egyptian Ibrahim Pasha (son of Muhammad Ali) had retreated from Lebanon and Syria and Emir Bashir II, who supported the Marnite and the Egyptian forces, was dispatched by the British into exile to the island of Malta.

In 1858, the Maronite peasants surged against the Maronite feudal landlords in the Maronite province of Kesrouan. The clergy supported the upheaval because the landlords went overboard by treating the peasants as chattle and displaying disrespect to the power of the clergy. The movement was successful and the landlords cowed down.

Actually the peasant movement was so successful that a convention was held in the town of Antelias by the leader Tanios Chahine in 1858 to demand further rights and due election process for the muhktars and community leaders…  This time around, the clergy sided with the landlords and crushed the peasant movement.

In order to divert the passions in the Maronite districts, the clergy incited the Maronite peasants in the Druze dominated regions.

It is chronicled, as most history stories go, that in 1860, a dispute erupts between two children in a village of Mount Lebanon.  One child is a Moslem Druze and the other Christian Maronite. The dispute leads to the massacre of 25,000 people across Lebanon and Syria, particularly in Damascus.  Many Maronite fled and took refuge in Shiaa villages for protection. That’s how you find Christians in south Lebanon.

Abdel Kader, the Algerian who led the resistance against the French occupation of Algeria in around 1850, was in exile in Damascus and played a key role in diffusing the sectarian passions, and prevented more massacres across the other major cities in Syria.

Years later, a lapse of century and a half, the situation in the Middle East has not changed.

Tensions between the diverse religious, social, and ethnic groups are at a peek and may explode with the slightest trigger. The Arab spring is turning grey, and fear of extinction is spreading among minority groups, moderation is no longer an option.

Cedric Choukeir,  Regional Director, WYA Middle East, posted this April 25, 2013:

“Tunisia, the first country that experienced the Arab uprising, is finding it difficult to agree on a common vision for the future of the Tunisian society. The toppling of the government provided an opportunity for change, a change that may include the political, economic, and social elimination of national counterparts.

This fear has led the Muslims in Tunisia to become more extreme and the secular population to go more secular. With the disappearance of moderate views, channels of communication between opposing views are decreasing:  leaving violence as the only way of mediating conflict.

This violent trend is clearer in post-revolution Egypt.

The government after the Tahrir Square mobilization is paralyzed and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are continuously clashing with the supporters of a secular rule. The clash of ideas is no longer a academic debate, it has become a real danger resulting in the death of Egyptians on a daily basis.

The minorities, including the Coptic Christians, have been targeted several times. Burning churches and mosques is not a thing of the past, it is happening today.

The above scenarios are similar in most of the countries across the Arab region with violence erupting between Muslim Sunnis, Muslim Shiites, Alawites, Christians, Kurds and Berbers.

We need to advance moderate views and open more channels of communication, built on a common understanding of who the human person is. We need to see each other as equals with different views in one global family.

Hopefully, we will be able to reverse the trend before the next regional war is triggered by a dispute between two children…” End of Cedric’s post

Arab moderates? Arab moderate leaders?

It is about time to establish a set of operational indicators that determine who is this faceless” moderate”.

So far, “Arab” leaders and leaders in developing States have been middlemen between the developed State and their local financial institutions that are the real owners of means of production.

A moderate leader, if moderation is a good connotation in community setting, should:

1. Focus on increasing the development of UN human indicators, such as infantile mortality…

2. Promoting universal rights to all citizens in healthcare and quality education

3. Encouraging syndicates and associations to lead local communities to negotiate with authority figures…

4. Disseminate and enhance freedom of opinion and gathering…

5. Instituting equitable and fair election laws…

Foreign governments will learn that they are dealing with a people-citizen who regained dignity and are not about to play the role of  vassal, waiting for the ultimate order from outside forces to dictate the political and social reforms…

Note: There are no Abdel Kader hero figures in current Syria to help stop the bloodshed.

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May 2013

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