New Age Islam
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Islam and the West ( 11 Sept 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Daesh — Exploiting Religious Sentiments: New Age Islam’s Selection from World Press, 12 September 2015

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

11 September 2015

Daesh — Exploiting Religious Sentiments

By Ibrahim Al-Othaimin

Britain Betraying Its History

By Neil Berry

Has Aylan Kurdi Died In Vain?

By Taj Hashmi

The World Wakes Up To Aylan

By Sanjana Sadique

Turkey Left to Face Terror

By Harun Yahya

Iran Has a Duty to Take In Syrian Refugees

By Hamid Dabashi

Lebanon’s Game of Streets and Display of Power

By Nayla Tueni


Daesh — Exploiting Religious Sentiments

By Ibrahim Al-Othaimin

12 September 2015

In his book “The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation,” Drew Westen, professor of Political Psychology at Emory University, US, argues that the human brain is not merely a rational cluster of nerves that are able to balance the objectivity of evidence and to draw the right conclusions to make the right decision, but it is a responsive unit that can be emotionally affected and provoked. Therefore, emotion overwhelms most of its decisions.

Westen reached this conclusion through the evaluation of speeches from a number of US presidential elections between 1950 and 2000. He examined the use of human emotions in the candidates’ speeches, both in advertising campaigns and in debates between presidential candidates to win the hearts of the voters.

Based on what Westen says, I think one of the most important attractions of Daesh is its concentration on the emotional aspect in its political speech through its presentation of the “utopia” of a caliphate state to millions of Muslims. This utopia forms a firm cultural and religious component of the Arab and Islamic mentality. Islamic history has been a part of the concept of Islam as a religion and a state, from the Umayyad Caliphate in the first century until the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate in the 14th century. The fall of the Ottoman Empire, or the so-called Ottoman Caliphate, was a significant milestone in the history of the Islamic movements as it was the first time in history that Muslims found themselves without one state bringing them together.

With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the issue of “restoration of the Islamic Caliphate” gave rise to numerous Islamic movements in the Muslim world in the 20th century. Starting with Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Nur cemaat in Turkey and Jamaat-e-Islami in India etc. Every Islamic movement, party, or organization claimed to be more entitled to raise the flag and restore the Islamic caliphate ruled by one caliph who governs all the Muslims around the world. They also claimed to abrogate all the national entities, “nation-states”, that are established based on Sykes-Picot Agreement.

Daesh was able to turn this utopia into a reality with the announcement of the “establishment of Islamic State,” which it claims is applying Shariah and moving away from man-made law. The organization has inaugurated its leader Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi as the “caliph” of Muslims everywhere. In an audio recording broadcast on the Internet on June 28, 2014 said to be by Daesh, the organization said that it had established the “Islamic State” in territories of Iraq and Syria over which it has control.

This announcement represented a landmark event in the history of jihadi groups, as it was the first time that a militant organization had declared the “caliphate” and inaugurated a “caliph”, an objective sought by most militants around the world. The declaration was made in such a way that it incited many militants to join Daesh.

I believe that the refutation of the “establishment of caliphate” has to be on three main levels:

Intellectual level: Education of youngsters through modern religious speech and teaching that could correct their misconceptions about the establishment of the Islamic caliphate in its utopic form and strengthen national identity and a sense of belonging to the homeland.

Legal level: Concerned authorities of public and private media have to obtain a resolution that prevents the use of the term “Islamic State,” and only refer to the organization as “Daesh” in all official correspondence and media messages. Using the term “Islamic State” is giving legitimacy to this criminal organization.

Military level: Assessment of the international coalition strategy against Daesh as, so far, military action has not achieved the desired results. Military victory over Daesh would reduce its legitimacy and its ideological attraction. A small, fragile, failed and internationally outcast country cannot be a convincing caliphate.

I believe that working within these parameters would lead to the organization’s regression and a significant deterioration in its attractiveness and its ability to recruit.


Britain Betraying Its History

By Neil Berry

12 September 2015

The evasive initial response of UK Prime Minister David Cameron to Europe’s refugee crisis has evoked particular outrage among British Jews. Many believe that Britain is betraying its history as the civilized country that embraced Jewish refugees from Nazi-dominated Europe.

After the poignant image of the drowned Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, went round the world, Cameron faced more general odium. Seeking to renegotiate British membership of the European Union, he has been anxious not to alienate anti-European members of his Conservative Party and sections of the public in whose eyes the EU has robbed Britain of control over its own borders.

Yet even before pictures circulated of the dead boy no small number of British people were shocked by Cameron’s talk of a “swarm” of migrants. Belatedly, he is pledging that Britain will take more refugees, while insisting that it is leading the provision of “on-the-spot” aid. Hitherto, Britain has accepted one refugee for every five accepted by Germany.

Media commentary has portrayed the German Chancellor Angela Merkel as shaming fellow European leaders with the scale of Germany’s hospitality toward refugees from Syria and elsewhere. It is true that with its aging population Germany has a pragmatic need for immigrants. Even so, it has displayed far more charity than Britain, the country that has long vaunted its role in saving western civilization from German fascism. At the same time, it has to be said that the refugee crisis is dividing the entire European Union and its constituent peoples. With East European politicians loud in their hostility to open borders, the very freedom of movement that has distinguished the European Union threatens to pull it apart.

If Britain’s stance appears especially shabby, it is because the UK has contributed hugely to the displacement of people, through its involvement in the destabilization of two Arab countries, Iraq and Libya, and its protracted military engagement in Afghanistan. It can also be said that the Iraq war did more than a little to spawn the chaos in Syria and that as the war’s chief protagonists the United States and the UK alike bear a heavy responsibility for the disorder that has engulfed the Middle East.

Against this background, it may appear bizarre that David Cameron will soon put before the British Parliament the case for direct British military action in Syria. It is worth remembering that when possible British intervention was debated — and rejected — by parliament in 2013, the stated objective was to fight the forces of President Bashar Assad, whereas now it is to join the US in seeking to extirpate Daesh, with toppling Assad a secondary priority, if a priority at all. Consider, too, that the turmoil in Syria has assumed such mind-boggling complexity that any kind of intervention is fraught with uncertainty.

It seems eminently possible that further military action in the Middle East by the UK could exacerbate the refugee crisis. Nevertheless, a sizable body of hawkish opinion believes the vote against intervention in Syria was a mistake that must be remedied at the earliest opportunity. Some nurse a special contempt for the former leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, who voted against airstrikes in Syria, mindful of the Iraq debacle. Nobody was more dismayed by Miliband’s stance than the former Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Endlessly eager to champion bombing campaigns, Blair, perhaps needless to say, is distinctly less voluble on the subject of the refugee crisis.

Nations are said to get the politicians they deserve. Yet the response of many British people to the refugee crisis — like the mass protests in 2003 against Blair’s personal zeal to wage war against Iraq — belies this. Not, to be sure, that poverty of leadership is peculiar to the United Kingdom. A hundred years ago, in the face of geopolitical cataclysm, the far-sighted British author, H.G. Wells, warned that only an enlightened world government could save mankind from disaster. A century on, with the nations of a single continent struggling to co-ordinate a coherent response to an epoch-making crisis, Wells’ alarm about the human future appears newly topical. His impassioned advocacy of large thinking and grand initiatives has seldom been more urgently needed.


Has Aylan Kurdi Died in Vain?

By Taj Hashmi

September 12, 2015

Although hundreds of nameless refugees from Africa and Middle East have perished in the Mediterranean in the last one-year, the world will never forget the image of the three-year old, cute and well-dressed Aylan Kurdi in a red shirt and blue pants, whose body was lying face down in the sand of Bodrum in Turkey. He died last week along with his mother and five-year old brother. Everybody seems to have said everything possible on this tragic death. Don't we have anything new to add to the story? Of course, we have.

Aylan's death has brought us to the Dickensian threshold of history: We have entered our “best of times” and “worst of times”; we are going through a season of “Light” and “Darkness”, and through the “spring of hope” and “winter of despair”. The cute little boy has proven through his death, the Arab World is more volatile now than while Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi were around. Thanks to the electronic media revolution, Aylan's image has entered people's living rooms, bedrooms, and workplaces. He now lives in people's heart. Now, Western Europe's love for Arab and Afghan refugees has overpowered Islamophobia.

How can any Muslim thank Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minster Juha Sipila of Finland enough for their generosity? Merkel said: “Every person who comes is a human being and has right to be treated as such.” And Finland's Prime Minister has offered a room in his house to a Muslim refugee family. Germans who were once imperialists – invaded countries and killed millions for their lebensraum or “adequate living space” for the German people – are now providing lebensraum to non-German Semitic Arabs, Kurds and Afghans.

“Who Failed Aylan Kurdi?” the question Ross Douthat has raised recently (New York Times, Sept 5, 2015) is the most pertinent one today. We all failed Aylan Kurdi, collectively. I agree with Douthat: “… the United States chief among them.” Since the US is mainly responsible for all the major post-World War II problems in the Third World, it “had a responsibility to prevent the Syrian war from developing, and a responsibility to protect its victims once it did.”

As his death has evoked global support and sympathy for him, his family, Syria and humanity, it has also agitated millions across the world. Sensible people don't give a damn to Arab monarchs, dictators, and their promoters. People now question why millions of innocent people – women, children and elderly – got killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and elsewhere during the last four decades; and people are still getting killed in civil wars, aerial bombings, drones and missile attacks. The way innocent people are dying at the hands of Islamist terror outfits, especially by the mysterious Islamic State, is beyond any explanations.

We have reasons to believe that the sudden rise in anti-US sentiment within and beyond the Muslim World has something to do with the image of Aylan Kurdi's body, lying face down in sand. People seem to be carrying more anti-US signs and banners in Western cities than before! One such banner has become viral in the social media: “You lied about Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya – You are lying about Syria and Iran.” The Obama administration must pay heed to what the ordinary people say and think in the East and West. Only by restoring a just peace in the Middle East, the US can sell itself as a protecter of freedom and democracy.

Despite the surge in pro-Syrian and anti-US sentiment in the world, the Obama administration seems to be overreacting to some unsubstantiated claims of a Russian military build-up in Syria. US Secretary of State John Kerry has already threatened his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov over phone that additional deployment of Russian troops and military aircraft in Syria would lead to an armed conflict between the two largest nuclear powers. Meanwhile, France and Britain have declared they are stepping-up bombing in Syria, and Australia is likely to follow suit.

Aylan Kurdi's death has re-affirmed the following facts: a) the beneficiaries of imperialist and neo-imperialist designs are still around in Syria and beyond; b) nobody is going to win an all out war in the Middle East; and c) only a just peace in the region can save the world from the ongoing long war, which began in Palestine, not long after the end of World War II. The US intervention in Syria – since 1949 – has further aggravated the situation.

In March 1949, the CIA-sponsored coup d'état toppled the nationalist President Shukri al Quwatly and installed Colonel Husni al-Zaim – the “American Boy” – to power. Between 1949 and 1955, America staged five military coups in Syria to complete the de-democratisation process in the country. In 1953, a CIA –sponsored coup in Iran toppled the democratically elected nationalist government of Dr Mosaddeq to re-instate the pro-Western Shah.

In view of the above, it seems as if Aylan Kurdi's death is a by-product of the decades-long neo-imperialist interventions across the region, so is his death a catalyst of change in Syria, Europe and the whole world, which we are going to witness in the coming decades. What Washington, Riyadh, Tel Aviv and their satellites in the Arab World have failed to notice is the growing resentment of the ordinary people against neo-imperialist balderdash, lies and conspiracy theories. Even people in the US have started questioning the logic of invading countries to usher in democracy à la Iraq, Libya, or Syria.

Last but not least, the courage, desperation, dexterity and defiance of people – as are evident in the hazardous mass migration process of tens of thousands of Arab, African and Afghan refugees quite for some time – make one wonder if the process is the harbinger of what former Algerian President Houari Boumediene predicted would happen, in the UN General Assembly in 1974:

One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. . .

Boumediene's above assertion, on the one hand, reflects Muslim (or the Third World) desperation for equal opportunity and human dignity, presumably denied by the West; on the other, this also conveys the ominous message to the West that the Third World has been aggrieved and willing to fight for their rights and dignity. Has Aylan Kurdi's tragic death further precipitated the process?

Taj Hashmi teaches Security Studies at Austin Peay State University. Sage has recently published his latest book, Global Jihad and America: The Hundred-Year War Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan.


The World Wakes Up To Aylan

By Sanjana Sadique

September 12, 2015

The picture of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on the shores of a Turkish beach, has recently caused outrage around the world. The picture did more than just wake the whole world up. It showed us the sad realities of the effects of the Syrian crisis and the consequent desperate risks refugees are willing to take in the hope of better lives.

Aylan has been described in some media reports as a migrant, while others have called him a refugee. From a legal perspective, the words “refugee” and “migrant” are not synonymous.

A migrant is someone who goes to another country voluntarily in the hope of a better economic life. A migrant is not in fear of persecution.

A refugee is someone who flees his country because he faces an armed conflict or fear of persecution and thus needs protection of his basic rights. The 1951 Refugee Convention, an international treaty, defines “refugee” as any person who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

Under international law, states have a legal obligation to keep their borders open to refugees. Thus the term “migrants” is used instead of “refugees” in order to divert attention from the moral and legal responsibilities of states to grant protection to “refugees”.

Aylan and his family were not migrants. Aylan's family was determined to escape from a war that destroyed Syria. They were escaping oppression in Syria and risking their lives to get away from intolerable conditions at home.

The terms should be distinguished from a third term, “asylum seeker”. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees defines “asylum seeker” as someone who has applied for protection as a “refugee” but is awaiting the status. Asylum seekers are people who move across borders in search of protection but may not fulfil the criteria laid down by the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Aylan and his family boarded a boat that day having failed to go to Canada because they did not qualify as “asylum seekers”. The basis for their rejection was that refugees living in Turkey were not regarded to be in immediate danger.

Sadly, Aylan's family was also not granted exit visas by the Turkish authorities since they did not have UNHCR referrals confirming their status as refugees.

Other treaties like the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) also protect refugee children and they are said to be legally binding on countries. Under the CRC, states are required to “take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee in accordance with applicable international or domestic law and procedures shall, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable rights set forth in the present Convention and in other international human rights or humanitarian instruments to which the said States are Parties.”

We do not want more incidents like Aylan's death taking over the news. Not just legally, but also morally, the world cannot afford to look the other way in the face an impending refugee crisis. This crisis has raised questions about Europe's policies and whether the notion of the European Union is still relevant. In a globalised, yet highly fragmented world, Europe must shoulder its responsibilities arising from the present crisis.

We all have a shared responsibility towards the refugees and to act in limbo at the moment would only make matters worse. However, the reaction from the global community has been mixed. Some countries like Germany have voluntarily opened their doors while others have closed them for the refugees. Some countries like Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar have not yet accepted any refugees.

We need to regain uniformity and prioritise this issue at this time of crisis instead of shifting blame on others. States need to figure out if they are ready to make sacrifices for the betterment of humanity.

We should not let innocent children suffer the fatal consequences of our mindless national and international politics. The onus ultimately is on the political rulers to act like human beings first and politicians second.

Children are always the most innocent targets during a disaster and perhaps if it wasn't for Aylan, the world would still be sleeping.

Sanjana Sadique is a lawyer with expertise in International Law.


Turkey Left to Face Terror

By Harun Yahya

12 September 2015

When terrorism strikes a country, the worst hit are the people and the government of that particular country. No neighbouring country, no allies, and no friendly state could really understand the gravity of the situation.

Regrettably politicians of the world seem to have accepted the dangerous materialist idea of the “Clash of Civilizations,” which is primarily based on conflicts and selfishness, because it suits their interests.

That explains the world’s inaction over huge crimes currently being committed against humanity in various parts of the world.

If a person reads international headlines about the recent developments in Turkey, he will probably evaluate the situation regarding the origin of that certain newspaper. He will most probably believe those reports and that the Turkish government broke cease-fire agreement with the PKK, or that the Turkish state is slaughtering the so-called “Kurdish fighters.”

An average reader won’t understand and probably won’t care about the massive scale of terrorism Turkey is currently facing.

Let us explain: Last week, in yet another cowardly ambush, PKK martyred 16 soldiers one day, and martyred 13 police officers the next day. Within two months, since the end of the cease-fire between the government and the PKK, terrorists have martyred more than 100 Turkish soldiers and police officers. They blocked roads, raided hospitals, kidnapped patients, set public and private properties on fire and recruited thousands of children as soldiers. To counter the situation, a curfew has been imposed in some parts of southeastern Turkey. Yet, it is not very easy to locate the ammunition stored in houses and mosques in the cities by PKK.

Our readers will recall, since the onset of the cease-fire process in Turkey, we have warned repeatedly that this would eventually happen. We had warned: PKK is a Leninist organization that seeks to snatch parts of Turkey and will not give up terrorist activities until it achieves that goal. It will never lay down its weapons. It will look peaceful, penetrate cities, gain a foothold and build a mafia-like state and work to gain control of the region from within… cease-fire is only a break to get new weapons, to recover and to get more recruits. This is so because a communist organization will never give up on communism until it takes the lands it wants and attains its goal of building a state.

Although we never wanted those results, time has proven us right. We’ve also been explaining for a very long time that a real solution is possible only with a massive educational campaign that scientifically refutes communism. We hope that this time there won’t be any need to wait this long to apply this method, which is the only thing that hasn’t been tried so far.

While some international media outlets reduced the incident “to the struggle of freedom fighters” and strangely continuing their campaign of accusing Turkey, the following questions inevitably come to the mind: Had another NATO member been faced with terrorism on such a wide scale, how would the world have reacted?

Does it work differently when it is Turkey, the only Muslim and Middle Eastern member of the NATO?

As the coalition forces were helping YPG found a state in Syria, along the borders of Turkey, we also said: YPG is a terrorist organization and is a branch of PKK. It is controlled by the same centre, loyal to the same leader, subscribes to the same ideology, which is diagonally opposite to the existence policies of the coalition countries. However, since those warnings were not heeded, PKK is currently targeting our soldiers and police officers in cowardly terrorist attacks, while getting the logistic support they need from this YPG-controlled region in Syria. In the same way, they get all their ammunition from the same source. Needless to say, the coalition forces provided those weapons to YPG to be used against Daesh. Therefore, we can conveniently say that PKK is carrying out terrorist attacks on Turkish lands using the weapons provided by coalition forces. In other words, NATO weapons are now being used against one of its members.

Then what should Turkey do? Turkey is in a state of war. Therefore, a state of mobilization should be declared immediately. Turkish army has approximately 700,000 soldiers and in a case of emergency, it can draft 4 million soldiers within 72 hours. We, of course, do not want any bloodshed but having a deterrent force is very much required. It is very important to deploy forces in sensitive areas in south-eastern Anatolia. It is clear that such a move will halt the cowardly PKK attacks targeting children, doctors, regular people, police and soldiers and also impair its control in the region.

It is a known fact that Turkish tanks are currently stationed along the Syrian border to ensure safety of the borders. To completely prevent any spilling of PKK militants to Turkey from those parts of Syria under YPG control, we need to increase the number of troops and the ammunition in the border, regardless of any opposition from the coalition forces.

At this point, Turkey no longer has to heed the suggestions of certain NATO members asking Turkey to make concessions to the terrorists. They have left Turkey alone without ensuring its protection against terrorism. The integrity of Turkey is at stake and this is the most sensitive issue for Turkish people. The current scenes on Turkish streets show that Turkish people have now reached the tipping point. Throughout history no terrorist organization could overcome and no superpower could surpass the determination of Turkish people. Putting that to test one more time would be nothing but a fool’s errand. May God bless our martyrs, and heal our veterans.

 Harun Yahya has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science.


Iran Has a Duty to Take In Syrian Refugees

By Hamid Dabashi

11 Sep 2015

The photograph of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian-Kurdish boy, whose body was discovered on a beach near the Turkish resort town of Bodrum, will haunt the world for generations to come. Aylan, his brother Galip, and their mother Rehan, are the most recent victims of a global tragedy in Syria, a disaster with more responsible parties than can be counted. Having failed to flee to freedom, their dead bodies were returned for burial to their hometown of Kobane.     

According to one report, the conflict in Syria has produced upwards of four millions Syrian refugees outside the country (even more are internally displaced), from a total population of 22 million. Nation states outside the region have pledged to resettle less than two percent of the refugees.

If, like me, you have been transfixed by your screens, watching the plight of a fraction of those crossing European borders from Hungary to Germany you will experience only an inkling of the horrors Syrians have faced.

Crisis Response    

Europe claims it faces its most serious refugee crisis since World War II. The question which arises is what are the countries in the immediate vicinity of Syria doing in response to this crisis?   

Of the more than four million Syrian refugees, almost half of them, the largest concentration, have gone to Turkey. In addition to Turkey, Camp Zaatari in Jordan has received tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. There are also Syrian and other refugees scattered throughout the Arab and Muslim world, particularly in Lebanon.     

There is one glaring case of a Muslim country that is heavily involved in Syria but has yet to accept a single Syrian refugee, and that is the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iceland, which has a population of just over 300,000 residents, has accepted scores of Syrians, but not a single refugee has been admitted to Iran. Why not?

Iran's influence over the conflict in Syria is wide-ranging and direct. The Iranian ruling regime has steadfastly supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad no matter how murderous his war crimes against Syrian people.

There are of course many other countries directly and indirectly responsible for the catastrophe in Syria. From Turkey to Saudi Arabia and its Arab Gulf allies, from the United States to other European and regional allies, there is scarcely any county that is exempt.   

But in order for that fact not to become a mere truism, we must hold specific countries responsible for their actions. If Iran is so directly involved in sustaining the atrocities of the Syrian regime which have caused this humanitarian disaster, then why should Iran not accept its share of Syrian refugees?     

The Fact of a Political Phantasm

Iran does not have a particularly rosy record of hospitality towards people who have sought refuge within its borders. Afghan refugees have been subject to racism by both the ruling regime and by certain segments of Iranian society.

As soon as Iranians travel to Europe or to the US they are very quick to criticise signs of Islamophobia and racism, but they scarce cast a critical gaze at their own behaviour.   

Iran's protection of the murderous Assad regime but unwillingness to accept any responsibility for its role in Syria raises another more serious dilemma.

Syrian and other refugees from the Arab and Muslim world are drawn to Europe and to Germany in particular, by the spell of a political phantasm which is informed by more than just social realities, economic forces, and political intransigence. They are drawn to Europe, a continent sometimes alive with right-wing neuroses, because they look at their own immediate neighbours, from Turkey to Iran to Saudi Arabia, as chiefly responsible for the bloody predicament from which they are running away.      

The Arab and Muslim world faces a debilitating moral crisis today, particularly exacerbated by the aftermath of the Arab Spring which initially raised high hopes. Those ideals are now in despair due to the actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The record of the ruling regime in Iran in aiding and abetting the Assad regime and yet refusing to accept responsibility for its consequences, is emblematic of a revolting political culture in which human lives mean very little, and the survival of tyranny means everything.

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.


Lebanon’s Game of Streets and Display of Power

By Nayla Tueni

11 September 2015

Many may disagree over Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea’s decision to boycott the national dialogue session, called for by parliament speaker Nabih Berri, because he thinks it is of no use and does not serve the process of electing a new president.

The step itself is brave if it puts an end to divisions and tries to contain the street. The problem now is that each group - whether political, sectarian or civil society - has its own street. This game of streets has now surfaced again, as if politicians are once again betting on who has more supporters, and who can gather more people for a protest or a festival.

Following the March 8 protest in 2005 to end the Syrian occupation, and after the historical protest that followed it on March 14, the street no longer had a meaning. The other massive gathering that came after these two was to receive the pope during his visit to Lebanon. Perhaps this latter occasion can teach politicians something.

Before and after the pope’s visit, there were sectarian partisan gatherings - mostly paid for or encouraged via intimidation - that do not affect political formulae that countries and dialogue “leaders” admit are foreign-controlled.


No one denies that political parties have the right to take to the streets, as long as their protest respects public and private property, and does not harm people or security forces, especially when the country stands on the edge of an abyss. No one denies that protests, especially the recent civil society activity, have an impact. These protests exhausted politicians, expedited dialogue and forced the government to work more actively.

However, those organizing this game of streets may lose control of it if intelligence members of a certain party get involved to sabotage it or deviate it from its path. Parties and militias that do not benefit from such street activity may also try to sabotage these protests, and they may even join forces to harm this activity or make it turn violent. It is thus necessary to be aware of the importance of not letting this activity turn into a display of power, or deviate from its aim of fighting corruption and demanding reforms.

Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column