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Reclaiming the initiative

Aug 01,2015 - Last updated at Aug 01,2015

The Arab nation, with one common culture and destiny, is now experiencing fierce inner conflict and discord among forces, groups and entities that compel people of great potential and great minds to leave their countries; opening the way to calls for yet deeper divisions across ethnic, sectarian and even territorial lines.

The one nation is currently consumed by new “identities” at the expense of the common Arab identity. Some of these identities are “regional” or “sectarian”, while others are “religious internationalism”. Unfortunately, in the present conditions of the Arab scene, managing these common challenges and concerns is not done through a common Arab vision that safeguards rights, deters aggression and realises Arab interests. I confirm herein that we are currently at a crossroad: either we enhance the values of pluralism and diversity or we continue building walls that divide cultures and people, aggravate sectarianism, increase divisions and rifts, and attack our common humanity.

In the context of an intellectual gathering that discussed and analysed the TV interview that Russia Today channel conducted with me about “The Arab World Today: Reality and Prospects”, participants highlighted the importance of maintaining objectivity and impartiality in dealing with challenges that we are facing today, the most important of which are terrorism, sectarian thought and determining our destiny in an institutional way through good governance.

Furthermore, objectivity should be adhered to in presenting historical facts, while at the same time concentrating on the values of love, peace and respect, so that we can raise a generation that believes in coexistence with others and respect of their values. This is a project that requires our concerted efforts in order to contribute to the making of our history based on dialogue, cooperation and integration, rather than on conflict and clashes. In this regard, the responsibility should be borne by intellectual elites and their will to shape our future. Diligent and knowledgeable work, insightful follow-up, a responsible critical approach, the desire for change and renewal, and looking into the destiny of our nation are substantial requisites for this endeavour.

Our young generations are increasingly besieged by proposals and visions that provide the Arab citizen with nothing but the “scenarios” of division, schism, redrawing of maps and rupturing countries to be reconstructed on new ethnic, sectarian and religious bases. It is important to stop spreading messages of intimidation, fear and despair among our younger generations. It is also important to encourage the spirit of initiative, aspiring for a better future, and taking into account that Man, with his knowledge and understanding, and his ability to research, investigate, and excel, is the genuine wealth of any society. 

With the confused vision, unbalanced and vague goals, young Arabs are experiencing a growing sense of despair and frustration. This propelled some of them to think of one of two equally bitter options: to emigrate from the Arab world that they look at as an inevitably sinking ship; or to join extremist groups as they offer an “alternative project” that is not based on honest and true logical or religious bases, but that nevertheless offers promises that flatter the feelings of the youth who are unconscious of reality and how to deal rationally with it.

Thus, our Arab youth are engulfed from all sides with feelings of frustration and hopelessness; this is a clear sign that the Arab world will be deprived of its potential and productive capacities in the medium and long term. Whether this is deliberately planned or just a by-product of the lack of an overall vision of events, the outcome is the same: focusing on the daily and immediate events and flash news items without having persuasive alternatives and overall and comprehensive visions for youth. This will badly affect their will and desire to live. 

This nation experienced, in the last decades, conditions and challenges that are no less grave than those that we are passing through at this time in our history. But today it is just as capable as it was in the past, to overcome difficulties and defeat hurdles if it believes in the reawakening vision that once united its ranks and forces and focused its potential on defending its right to exist and protect its very being and identity from the dangers of eradication, abolition and confiscation.

Today, we are in dire need to remind Arab youth of the renaissance values of the Great Arab Revolt that free Arabs will be celebrating the first centennial anniversary of next year. It is with those values that Arabs will reclaim the initiative and be proactive in determining their destiny and defining their future.

With those reawakening values, we can give our youth hope and save them from the claws of despair and frustration. Arabs were able in their Great Revolt, which started in Mecca, to retrieve their free will and safeguard their identity and right to life. This was accomplished in the past because of their unity and cohesion; maintaining the pivotal role of Mecca as a point of consensus for the nation and activating the values of consultation (shura), Zakat and charity.

What is required today is to go back to those renaissance values, reclaim the initiative and give youth the hope that some want them to lose. 

Adhering to this renaissance vision is the only way to face challenges and dangers and empower the nation to achieve its new desired awakening.

More specifically, we are in need of a new vision of enlightenment that has its inspiration from the values of the past Arab renaissance. This is not only to face the dangers of terrorism and extremism, but also to confront in an institutional way the ills of illiteracy, poverty and unemployment that are no less dangerous than outside challenges. Within this frame, human dignity is guaranteed, and the shortsightedness that the refugee is a burden is replaced by a realistic view that regards him as a competent and potential contributor to the process of building and regeneration of the whole nation.

 

It is time to reclaim the initiative and restore hope to our youth and stand as one resilient block in the face of dangers that besiege us. I have no doubt whatsoever that the values of the Arab awakening run in the blood of numerous children of this nation, and it is on those people that we pin our hopes to bring about the desired reawakening. As for those with dead hearts, there is no hope or benefit in addressing them in the first place. 

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