Monday, April 20, 2009

For those who don't care, my response to one of the obscene articles on Creative Forum's website:

You say that the Middle East is afflicted by religous dogma, extremism, bigotry and discrimination. Not once do you mention that the Middle East is primarily afflicted with the curse of occupation, colonialism and concerted Western efforts to divide, conquer and subdue. You also do not mention the biggest blight, the existence of a Zionist settler state in Palestine, as one of these ills. This is confusing and alarming at once since the tone for the rest of your essay implies that such an omission may not have been an accident. I also think that a vast majority of the people of these monotheistic faiths would be a little bit annoyed with you for claiming that their faith is “invented”, however great an idea you believe it to be.

The next paragraph in your essay is even more terrifying, where you set the tone for your essay by calling for a Muslim Martin Luther and the separation of religion from the state, citing, of all possible examples, the sad catastrophe which is Mustafa Kemal’s decapitation of Turkey. Another of the commentators even had the gall to mention Tunisia as a successful example for Syrians to emulate.

Your argument for state secularization and Islamic reform is dialectic, and with the flimsiest of foundations. The basis for its narrative is one which is perhaps more suitable for a thinktank in Washington DC than on actual facts. Pivotal to your argument is that the reader accepts your claims about the so-called Ulama “class” prima facie. An argument which is then buttressed by ugly language which is evocative of Raphael Patai’s “The Arab Mind” and is in fact racist, hateful and grotesquely Orientalist.

You talk about secularisation and the desperate need for it, yet from Morrocco to Iraq there is not one single Islamic state, apart from Saudi Arabia. The example you give of Syria verges on the criminal when placed in perspective. Syria is in fact a country which has killed 30,000 of its own citizens in the name of the secularism you are calling for. You may wish to read up on this massacre, it is popularly called the Hama Massacre, if you know Arabic it is referred to locally as Ahdath Hama.

Overall, your article appears to be less about what Syria is to you and more about how little you know of Islam, the regions history and your intense dislike of this faith and its adherents. That none of the other commentators on this thread have picked up on this is an indication that either they have not read your article and are simple sycophants, or they themselves know nothing better than what you are presenting them with. Either way, this hardly looks like a promising example for Syria’s brightest and best.

Yours sincerely,


Nour said...


I think your overly emotional reaction to every call for secularism is truly unwarranted. I really don't understand what your problem is with a civil state that treats all its citizens as equals. To regard such calls as expressions of hatred toward Muslims in Syria is ludicrous. Should I regard your insistence on an Islamic state as an expression of hatred towad Syrian Christians? Do you believe that the members of a common religion have more shared links than members of a single society from different religions? In other words, is the muslim from Afghanistan more related to a Syrian Muslim than a Christian from Damascus?

As for the massacre in Hama, to claim that it was done for the sake of secularism is a complete distortion of the facts. The regime attacked anyone that posed a threat to it, regardless of what thought they represented. Was its previous repression of Social Nationalists and communists also for the sake of secularism? The regime represses people for the sake of self-preservation. And its system is not truly a secular system, because the civil society in Syria is completely absent. Our personal and family status laws are governed by religious institutions.

There is nothing wrong with engaging in a debate about the best system of governance for our nation, but to label any and all advocates of secularism as tools of the west and collaborators with colonialism is insulting, offensive, and completely untrue.

Maysaloon said...

Either you have not read what this person has said or you have not ready what I have said. In both scenarios you are putting words in my mouth, and I think that is unfair when you consider how similar both our positions are with regards to a principled resistance to occupation.

Maysaloon said...

Sorry for the typo, I meant read, not ready.

Nour said...


I understand and completely support your positions regarding support for resistance, opposition to colonialist thought, and your general authentic representation of Syrian thought and culture. But I have noticed that you always take negative positions toward advocates of secularism.

Regarding the article on which you commented I did read it, and there are many aspects of it with which I disagree, especially the notion of emulating Mustafa Kemal's Turkey, which I agree with you is a sad catastrophe. But in general I don't believe Elie has sinister motives nor do I believe he hates Muslims.

There are many elements within our society which I completely agree advocate for secularism purely to serve western colonialist agendas. I don't believe they are true secularists, but rather self-interested individuals who will advocate for anyone and anything that may help them achieve personal ambitions. I would liken them to those who became proponents of Islamization but not because they are true pious Muslims, but rather because they want to serve a Saudi agenda.

Maysaloon said...

This may surprise you, but it is not secularism per sec that riles me but rather the way that it is touted like the solution and magical wand to all our problems with little attention paid to what our problems actually are.

I also think that Mr el Hadj's article is an indication of how far we have come when what he says does not even bat an eyelid with regards to its assumptions about this religion.

My own position is, in fact, far from political Islam and it is often the case that I get accused of defending what is popularly called "Islamism" or as Mr el Hadj refers to it as "jihadi" ideology when in fact it is only the gross inaccuracy and assumptions made which annoys me. There is a tendency to infer only the worst from the basic assumptions of a practicing Muslim and we as a society have to start asking ourselves seriously where these assumptions come from and whether we are right.

That's all I'm saying.