Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Arabs and The Sonorous Phenomenon

Arabs and The Sonorous Phenomenon

Saturday, 20 March, 2021 - 12:15

In some Arab countries, after colonialism ended, so-called nationalist regimes emerged and launched slogans that had been poignant at the time because of their association with independence, land and freedom. However, shortly afterward, these regimes began to exercise the same colonial oppression with the ascension of military regimes that entrenched tyranny and dictatorship. After independence, the political scene transformed from one of a distorted form of liberalism to a space polluted with racism and sectarian discrimination. Citizenship, dialogue, and coexistence no longer had a place. Instead, city squares became arenas for civil and sectarian clashes, intolerance, seclusion and backwardness. Thus, the Arabs, although they had gotten rid of colonialism, came to be subjected to it once again- perhaps more seriously so- though in different frameworks and forms...

In many of our Arab countries, the absence of citizenship and the rule of law, protection of human rights and respect for the constitution is behind their obstacles and impediments. These hindrances caused the Arab world's general lack of sovereignty, politically and economically, in a globalized era dominated by political and economic blocs. When we examine it thoroughly, we find that the major reasons for this state of affairs are: the absence of dialogue, fear of pluralism, tolerance of the different and inclusion of the other. The Arab individual is nothing but a reflection of his own environment. His dictionary has become brimming with expressions that convey despondency, irritability and fury, which turns dialogue, for him, into a sonorous phenomenon, as Abdullah Al-Qasemi put it.

Dialogue is a healthy practice that allows for communication, mutual enrichment and engagement among the various segments of society, provided that the discourse is accepted as it is and not as the interlocutors wish it were. Accordingly, dialogue is the pillar of any cultural endeavor or intellectual proposal, as it usually reveals divergent positions, enriching and deepening the debate. However, some, because of their cultural background and intellectual formation, turn it into an opportunity to dominate and boast. They often dismiss ideas that contradict their point of view or discourse that is opposed to their proclivities. This category of people's actions do not represent the behavior prevalent in society, but, of course, it is nonetheless part of the social fabric and influences social behavior. This means that the dialogue crisis will remain as long as these individuals do not accept difference and the other.

In any case, this is a characteristic unique to the Arab mentality, which usually favors a single opinion that corresponds to its hopes and desires. In our societies, we have such groups; they always insist they are right and express their rejection or skepticism of divergent opinions. They do this mainly because they see these opinions as a threat to their security, sect, party or authority. History is full of such examples, and we can therefore find these facts in its long history and expose the intentions behind this behavior, which are linking to plots, physical liquidation and military coups.

There is no doubt that this atmosphere undercuts Arab citizens' ability to think soundly and pushes them into a cycle of negativity and regression. Hence, you find they are isolated because they feel insignificant, and upon confrontation, you find them negating the "other" and focusing on the other's faults, deficiencies and contradictions, as though they had derived their model from the mother country.

These types of practices reflect a palpable reality in the Arab world street, and one can sense, on a daily basis, the poor communication between citizens themselves or between them and state institutions. This poor communication can come in multiple forms; among them are ridicule and belittlement. Dr. Jaballah Musa says: "An Arab has his own rejection mechanism that achieves a psychological balance for himself and the other, while taking minimal losses from his social environment. This mechanism, which is the result of self-deception or hypocrisy, has become such a key component of the average Arab's personality that it is difficult to maintain that it is now an isolated behavior."

Unitary culture creates a suffocating atmosphere, and it leads to insularism and inability to maintain balance, and this thereby reflects on the nature of social relations, to say nothing about its effects on how any state deals with the other in light of the barriers, interpretations and efforts whose high costs would not have been incurred if they had relied on dialogue, and this is what we witnessed in the countries of the Arab revolutions.

In this context, and in light of this climate, the entrenchment of the concept of conspiracy, for one reason or another, is noticeable in the Arab world, although the time has come to stop saying the West is on the prowl for Arabs or Muslims and putting the blame for our mistakes, disagreements, and failure on the West, which is concerned with nothing but its interests, and we should engage with them in the same manner, relying on rationality, pragmatism and the relativity of matters.

The secret for success is in being upright rather than seeking one's interests, and uprightness here means being just; that is, having the ability to balance between one's conviction and accepting opposing convictions. Therefore, it is a formula that preserves the content (one's beliefs) and couples it with engaging with the other (those with an opposing opinion) in a space that allows for interaction and an exchange of ideas between the two parties without imposition or attempts to coerce.

Other opinion articles

Editor Picks