Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Christians in Iraq: Mercy Lost

Just when one thought it could not get any worse on the social and political scene in Iraq, given that seven months have past since the election and still no government. The church massacre in Baghdad reminded us that chaos, perpetrated by mercyless killers, has always room to grow in Iraq. Again today, more than seventy people died in bombings across Baghdad. Maliki sure likes holding on to power more than holding Iraq together.

The vulnerability of the security situation in Iraq is not a surprise, what is a surprise however is that Iraqi politicians seem to believe that they are entitled to "play" the political game of trying to outlast and outsmart their political opponents. As if Iraq is not going through an extraordinary period of its history, no government, no security, armed groups roaming free, Islamized militias with an uncomprimizing agenda of eliminating the "other". The other being : moderate Muslims, Christians, Jews, Yazidies,.. plenty of what could be considered "other" from ones own standpoint in the Middle East.

Factionalism seems to be too obvious, too ugly, too scary in countries that are "democratic" in the Middle East, like Lebanon and Iraq, Both countries seem always on the edge of civil war, which continously invites the "broker" role of neighboring countries, the US or Europe to intervine and mediate between the different factions. Factionalism is clearly stated and incorporated in the constitution of both countries, a democratic model that has only inflamed differences.

Those two countries might not be the envy of other Arab countries in the Middle East at this moment.

I have to commened NGOs in Syria and Jordan. Civil society in both countries have made conscience efforts over many years to gloss over religious and ethnic differences, make a point of minimizing the role of such preferences in the community, and by celebrating diversity in their organizational makeup. Granting economic and political rights have a central role in pushing ethnic and religious differences to the backburner, I believe on that front there is always more to do. Minimizing the reference to ethnicities and religious differences, might not be a bad lesson to learn from these two countries. Civil society and government support for such activism in these countries is not sufficient to eliminate the possibility of descending into chaos, that is why gradual reform, economic and political, is key.

Referencing ethnicities and religious differences in politics "factionalism" must be shamed and looked upon with disgust.

Mercy lost on that Sunday in Baghdad, Mercy lost on many days in Baghdad.

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