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Sat, 14 Dec 2019 18:03 GMT

Why the Revolution Against Sectarianism


Dr Nasr Arif

Thu, 14 Nov 2019 12:24 GMT

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” The prominent American-British poet T.S. Eliot once pondered. 

Amidst accelerating events in the political arena, a myriad of information flows, but the truth is not often revealed. In order to get to the bottom line, we need to delve deep beyond the surface of the current political and social events.

Today, we witness an enormous number of historical changes brought about by Iraqi young people in the Shiite-dominated southern provinces, a generation whose values and beliefs have been shaped by the governments that took control after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Such a generation has been raised in an environment that was fully governed by sectarian culture and slogans. The Shiite community there were elated after the fall of the Baath regime that banned them from practicing their religious rituals. It is this very generation that was brought up to believe in the “Shiite House”, a term coined and applied by sectarian parties coming from Iran. As a creative generation is revolting against all the sectarian-oriented leaders who have always pretended to be protecting them. So what happened? Why the drastic change? Why are sects, whether in Iraq or Lebanon, revolting against ‘sectarianism’? 

These questions seem confusing to many and some have attributed the entire situation to the conspiracy theory. But to me, when these questions came to mind, I immediately remembered an article I wrote for “Al-Ain News” on January 3rd, 2018 under the title “Saudi Arabia’s Reforms Trigger Revolution in Iran”. Back then, there were waves of protests staged in different Iranian cities against price hikes. My article was drawing a sort of comparison between the philosophical depth of the religious ideology in both Khomeini Iran and Saudi Arabia after the seizure of the Grand Mosque of Mecca in 1979, which coincided with the Iranian Revolution. 

Saudi Arabia has always stood as the religious antithesis to the ideology of Faqih state, on which Khomeini founded his revolutionary theory. The dialectical tension between Saudi Arabia and the Khomeini model has continued for decades; that Shiite community around the world believe Saudi Arabia and its Islamic model pose the main threat to them. Saudi Arabia and Iran are now the two main arch-rivals across the Islamic world where any success achieved by Iran is considered a knock-back to Saudi Arabia’s power and so on. 

Rivals usually imitate each other unconsciously in an attempt to take one step forward, and that was a real blow to the Iranian model that spread the concept of sectarianism in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and west Africa in its bid to establish the empire that has always haunted the Persian mind. When Saudi Arabia launched its recent reforms in 2017, there was a kind of revolution, both on the social and cultural level, mainly to empower and liberate women, and on the economic level, to combat corruption. It is at this point that Saudi Arabia broke away from the circle drawn by Ayatollah’s system in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon; a system that was employed to give excuses to corruption in Iran, exploitation of Iraq, and involvement with militias in Lebanon and Iraq. Saudi Arabia was finally achieving the dream of the Shiite community that has long been deprived of the pleasures of life under a religious pretext. In the eyes of its Shiite rival, Saudi Arabia was leading a real cultural and economic revolution in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon. That was the push start that prompted Iranian society to revolt and it will continue to do so time and time again. The same applies to the Shiite community in Iraq and Lebanon where the simplest pleasures of life were prohibited under religious justifications. 

Saudi Arabia has successfully eradicated the repercussions of the 1979 incident through peaceful political and legal measures, that were accepted by Saudi society wisely and prudently. The Shiite revolution in Iraq erupted to achieve the same goals; to liberate the Shiite community from Iranian grip. In the Lebanese revolution, the participation of the Shiites in the south and Beqaa province was a major historic event marking the unity of a whole nation against the domination of the Iranian hardline mentality, to achieve peaceful and positive coexistence between Sunnis and Shiites as was the case before 1979. 

The Shiite revolution in Iraq and Lebanon is a logical consequence of Saudi Arabia’s liberation from the sectarian ideology that was launched by the Awakening movement after 1979. 

Inspired by the great reform movement in Saudi Arabia, there is now such broad opposition to religious sectarianism amongst the young population in these countries. They are now keen to apply coexistence concepts and social openness to bring happiness to everyone equally, bravely defying those who manipulate religion to achieve personal interests. 

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of 7Dnews.

Middle East