It’s 1860, a dispute erupts between two children in a village of the Lebanese mountains, one Druze and the other Maronite. The dispute consequently leads to the massacre of 25,000 people across Lebanon and Syria. 153 years later, 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.
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 become 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 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 push for 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.
By Cedric Choukeir, Regional Director, WYA Middle East.