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Why sectarianism is a noose around the neck

Hassan Al Mustafa

Published: Updated:

The second season of television series, Selfie, has once again highlighted the issue of sectarianism, through the prism of children and their families. It also highlighted the primary education they receive and the historical chronicles that form their opinion, define their identities and establish their independent personalities in its most extreme image.

Children come to life as blank papers, free from any scratch or color. They do not choose their religion, sects or parents. There are biological, social and sectarian determining factors that are very powerful and compulsive; they influence the children and set the path for them without giving them the chance to object or approve.

After becoming adults they start to deal with others who differ from them. They witness that what is around them is different from what they are used to, and thus, start questioning themselves. They begin to question others and the complex reality surrounding them. They enter this phase where they investigate, verify and make more independent choices.

However, these questions do not usually affect the deep faith or the main chronicles that are the backbone of the identity being formed for so many years. Questions related to marginal issues remain, some of which are the result of the daily difficulties faced by individuals, requiring unconventional solutions.

Absolute submission is the utmost scourge of sectarianism; it is what makes religions myopic, refusing to be questioned. Religions face rebels violently, the same way they do with their enemies.

Beyond margins

Sectarianism is no longer a marginal issue that can fade out with time. It has emerged in the form of transnational terrorist groups that promote themselves based on sectarian identity and justify killing of others. There is hence need for more decisive steps while dealing with sectarianism.

Principled and religious speeches will not solve the problem of sectarianism. In fact, they are part of the problem. Many extremist clerics continuously incite and issue fatwas against each other.

What can limit sectarian brutality is a regime that forbids it, a regime that is based on humane values respecting all religions and sects.

Hassan Al Mustafa

Besides, there are “dishonest tolerance” speeches that taint the other and praise oneself. That is to suggest that the problem is not within me as I am well-informed and accept the other, the problem is in the other, who is at the receiving end of insult and hatred. This tactic can, however, convince only foolish people.

What can limit sectarian brutality is a regime that forbids it, a regime that is based on humane values respecting all religions and sects.

Regimes can regulate the relation between individuals and groups. They protect individuals from verbal, physical and even moral offense. They can hold the guilty accountable and prosecute those inciting hatred or racism, no matter how influential they may be.

The Selfie series has made us laugh and cry over the reality facing sectarianism in our communities. However, even if it explicitly points to the disease, the reality will not change unless real initiatives are taken without taking into consideration any individual or sect. The country’s security should be of utmost importance.

This article was first published on Al Riyadh on Jun. 10, 2016.

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Hassan AlMustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in middle east and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.