Monday, April 20, 2009

The unCreative Forum - Pining for Colonialism

It is tragic that for a country as diverse and wonderful as Syria - one whose people cling proudly to their identity, history and religion - that only the most vapid and shallow of presentations are made when presenting Syria's case to the world in English, the de-facto international language of the fading Anglo-Saxon world system.  The Creative Forum, a website where I have submitted a number of articles, has become just such an example of this sad state of affairs. Reading through the recent spate of articles, I've noticed a recurring theme amongst the various writers. A call for a separation of religion from state, and an intense dislike of those fellow countrymen, women and children who are Muslim.

The article by Elie ElHadj is the most grotesque of these in its orientalism, gross assumptions and what can only be a deliberate contortion of history, presenting us with an apology for colonialism and occupation. The rest of the posts slip comfortably into what I like to call the "Syriana" fad, which is similar to fads in other countries such as the "Persianisation" of Iran before the Islamic revolution put a stop to it, or to Sadat's "Pharoah-nisation" of Egypt, which continues to this day, or even to the "Phoenician-ism" of Lebanon. Any person with a shred of conscience must recognise these for what they are, a division of the Arab and Muslim world into little statelets devoid of a shared history, religion and culture, and a logical step to the recognition and gradual acceptance of that other myth of nationalism which the region has had imposed on it, the "Judeah-isation" of occupied Palestine.

Gone are ideas of Pan-Arabism, Pan-Islamism and resistance to the West and its way of life. It is now admirable to be everything that our forefathers despised.

I leave you with a quote from Galeano:

Harnessed as they have always been to the constellation of imperialist power, our ruling classes have no interest whatsoever in determining whether patriotism might not prove more profitable than treason, and whether begging is really the only formula for international politics. Sovereignty is mortgaged because "there's no other way." The oligarchies' cynical alibis confuse the impotence of a social class with the presumed empty destinies of their countries.

(Excerpt from Eduardo Galeano's "Open Veins of Latin America: Five centuries of the Pillage of a Continent".)


sasa said...

I'm a secular pan-Arabist. These two ideas don't contradict do they? Isn't pan-Arabism built on secular ideals?

Maysaloon said...

In fact there is no contradiction in what you adhere to, but you will find that the secularism advocated there is not pan-Arab but rather a secularism of separate bantustans.

In addition, the secularism they are advocating already exists, but they mean it specifically as a tool for limiting and extinguishing political or social expression of Islam in a method which only really applies to Middle Ages Europe and not the Middle East today.

The Middle East today, in fact, does not have the crisis of religion and state as is popularly presented to us, and Islam itself has no such contradiction as a faith in its political or individual spheres. Fanatical religious expression is a direct result of occupation and oppression by the very same secular forces that these people are cheering on. On a popular level, they are pressing all the right buttons in their discussions, but on another level their accusations, assumptions and generalisations are grossly inaccurate and baseless.

Nour said...


What do you mean by bantustans? I agree that we have many divisive mentalities in our nation, but do you believe that anyone who doesn't call for the establishment of an Arab/Islamic state an advocate of "bantustan" secularism?

Unknown said...

Dear Wassim

You are welcome to write a post if you want.

I will reply to you at the end of the day. You seem to have decided to forget a few things in reaching your black and white conclusions.

It seems President Bush's "you are either with us of against us" impressed even some of his enemies.

sasa said...

But there is nothing wrong with secularism per se. It is not necessarily a Western ideal (look at the US hypocritical secular state).

Secularism isn't something to aspire to because Islam and state don't necessarily work together. Secularism is something to be aspired to for its own values.

The problem is too few Muslims even understand what secularism means. People think I'm an atheist when I tell them my politics. Don't forget, the original pan-Arab post-colonial ideals were secular.

Maysaloon said...

Rather than construct a new debate based on what you think my position is on Islam or secularism, which is in fact not accurate. Can any one of you who are criticising me actually engage with me on any of the issues that I thought were serious problems in this man's essay? I feel like it is more a problem that I am the one who attacked him rather than that there is something which deserved being attacked in the essay - which there is.

Unknown said...

The problem is that you are too quick to attack Wassim. Why don't you try asking questions first instead of assuming that you have infallible ability to understand people's motives and feelings?

In what way are more refined that President Bush's brilliant neocon thinkers?

Maysaloon said...

The article is clear in its presumptions and clear in what was being stated. How could understanding his motives and feelings influence in any way the meaning which is intended from that essay? The answer is not at all, it will not. I was not rude, nor offensive in my responsive, simply critical of what was being said. He has not denied any of my accusations, incidentally.