There is a very interesting discussion going on in the Lebanese Political Journal thanks to a post by LP titled Sunday Blogging: The Orthodox Dilemma. Hummbumm’s comment pertaining to the Arab ideology caught my attention because it pointed to something that is true, yet simultaneously false.
The Arab identity, according to him, was once treated preferentially by non-Sunni and non-Muslim minorities because it was and remains the secular alternative to religious nationalism in a predominantly Sunni Muslim region of the world. Yet, on the other hand, academics like Fouad Ajami and fellow blogger Toni Badran accurately point to how certain Sunni political elites used the Arab ideology to persecute and dominate religious minorities across the region.
Prominent examples are the treatment of Shi'as, Kurds, and other minorities by the Ba’ath regime in
This apparent contradiction of religious minorities supporting the Arab ideology on one hand yet suffering from it on the other is one that is extremely interesting, and also one that can even be observed in action today.
- Wintess Bashar's speech and his uber-emphasis on Arabism. Of course, even though I am about to do it, I need not point out that Bashar is a member of the Alawite sect, one that is not even considered to be Muslim by many practicing Sunnis (an "honor" shared with the Druze community among many other "quasi-muslim" sects in the region, of course)
- Also witness Hizballah's obsession with "Arabism" even though you'd think that Hizballah's status as an exclusively religious organization would exclude it from salivating over a secular ideology as much as they’ve done over the past couple of months.
To a certain extent, you feel that both these non-Sunni political nodes of power attempt to shame their Sunni co-religionists by "out-bidding" them in a test of willingness to give to causes that have defined Arabism over the past fifty years, namely the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and some manifestation of anti-Imperialism.
So, one could come to the conclusion that both Ajami and Badran are not completely accurate in their assessments that the Arab ideology has been a curse for minorities in the region. Rather the picture appears to be much more complex and ever-changing. The quintessential example that highlights this complexity is actually provided to us by