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‘New Arab generations eye more than liberal capitalism’ ‘Moderate secularism not anti-religion’

Perhaps most political observers and commentators of what is currently happening in the Middle East would agree that there are still some reactionary forces in the Middle East which seek to demoralize people about democracy.

The threat against the new ME democracy does not revolve exclusively in the minds of militants and Jihadists; but the transition to democracy seem to threaten to uproot totalitarian ways of thinking which has been plaguing the Middle East for the last two centuries or more. Unwilling or perhaps unable to relinquish their historical control of all political, economic, social and even intellectual power in the typical Middle Eastern society; reactionary political forces in our region are becoming more entrenched in their resistance to almost any kind of change.

They would do whatever is necessary to increase the desperation of ordinary people against any viable democratic change. Moreover, it is rather naive to merely blame twisted jihadist ideologies for some of the human catastrophes currently happening in our region.

Militants who massacre people for their faith or for their sect, and those backward elements who persecute non- Muslims just because they are non- Muslims may represent only marginal offshoots of already established antidemocratic tendencies. Changing antidemocratic mindsets in the ME requires time, efforts and a ripping up of the spider web of ignorance and intolerance.

No one can achieve such positive transformations to democracy in the region but its own people, especially the new generations of young Arab men and women. It is also very simplistic to claim that the young generations of Arabs only want to achieve liberal capitalism that exists in Western societies.

They actually want more than what Western capitalism / democracy can offer them: the young people of the Middle East wish to get rid of some traditional oppressive frames of mind which justify and maintain the general totalitarian state of mind. In other words, the young people of the middle east seem to wish to create new social, political and cultural realities that would enable any middle eastern individual to connect his / her human potentials with what they can achieve in their society: our fight in the Middle East is basically against backwardness, nepotism, social and political favoritism, social injustice, and it is a fight against oppression and deep-rooted ignorance.

I personally believe that one available window through which real change can happen in the ME may come through some kind of moderate secularism. When the belief that religion should not necessarily play a fundamental role in government, education and the public arena; things may improve in the Middle East. When private faith becomes really private and intimately personal in the typical Middle Eastern society; no one can exploit the religious discourse for their self interest.

Khaled Aljenfawi

By: Khaled Aljenfawi

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