Taming The Social Conflict (Middle East)

Taming The Social Conflict (Middle East)
Posted on May 1, 2014 | Yasser Harrak | Written on May 1, 2014
Letter type:
Blog Post

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

This is a translated summary of an interview given to Annabaa Magazine that publishes in Arabic . (April 24, 2014)

Annabaa Magazine aims at getting researchers and intellectuals involved in the issue of social conflicts management. The purpose is to develop an approach based on different opinions and theories that lead to eliminating the violence based on social conflicts. To do so, Annabaa Magazine conducts several polls and interviews to gather the necessary data in order to present possible solutions and recommendations.

Annabaa Magazine : If we cannot eliminate social conflicts, is there an opportunity to transform the conflict from its destructive nature to a positive course benefiting all parties involved? What are the steps that can be taken in this respect?

Yasser Harrak: It is noted that the parties involved -in the region- base their argument wrongly on the notion of "The prevention of Fitnah - or sedition - ". A concept that has been adopted throughout the ages to justify violent social conflicts. Strangely enough, the parties involved in social conflicts today try to enforce "the prevention of sedition" with violent means in a way that makes the prevention of "sedition" more important than the prevention of violence. The parties involved in violent social conflicts based on the notion of preventing sedition have failed miserably in the definition of "sedition". However, from their violent acts on the ground one may deduce a meaningful explanation.

Behaviors such as identity killing, destruction of worship places and destruction of historical heritage suggest that the parties involved do not tolerate diversity. They seem to want to protect their communities from the very existence of the other for fear of admiration. There is a mutual fear that members of one's community risk admiring the values of the other, and that is considered a sedition that needs to be prevented. The vehicle used for prevention is often violence.

It is possible to transform the conflict from its destructive nature to a positive course benefiting all parties involved. This requires efforts on different levels such as culture, media, education and security. Violent ideologies must be confronted through curriculums, educational seminars and speeches.

Nevertheless, the security approach cannot be ignored as long as we have well established extremist groups throughout the region. The security approach serves in preventing and fighting violence. It also serves in facilitating the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals back into society.

Annabaa Magazine: Is there a way to tame the conflict by supporting the culture of diversity?

Yasser Harrak: Supporting the culture of diversity is proven to have a positive impact on societies. Diversity has contributed to social harmony, richness and stability of countries where it is truly supported. One can look at the success it has made in some counties in Western Europe (e.g. Britain) and North America (e.g. Canada). Communities in these countries understand that preserving and respecting the particularity of the other is part of preserving and respecting their own particularity. This understanding constitutes the foundation of harmony and peaceful coexistence. In countries where diversity is not encouraged, there has been a registered number of freedom violation cases. It is ironic to see a Muslim, for example, deprived his rights to practice his rituals in a self proclaimed Islamic state whereas in multicultural societies individuals do not have to worry about such violations.

Annabaa Magazine: What is the role of extremism in producing escalation and violence?

Yasser Harrak: Violent deeds at the beginning were violent thoughts. By the same token we may say that extremism leads to violent social conflicts, we can also say that violent thoughts lead to extremism. Therefore, living in an extremist environment means experiencing violence at the intellectual level. When the circumstances allow, violent thoughts become a real experience. There is no rule of law in the world of extremism. Extremists are Machiavellians in a sense that purpose for them justifies the means. That is exactly what we read from their targeting of civilians, schools, tourists etc...

Annabaa Magazine: What role can politicians, clerics, academics and media play to tame the conflict? What would you suggest in this regard?

Yasser Harrak: It is obvious that government officials have a lot of resources that can be used in the promotion of diversity and the fight against extremism. The politicians can work on the legislation level to ban extremist ideologies in the Middle East in a way similar to banning the Nazi ideology in the West for example. Academics, activists and the media should work hard on promoting social harmony and raising awareness about the dangers of extremism. Clerics have an important role to play in all this. They deliver speeches in congregations and ceremonies and often have a greater influence on their audience. The message they need to deliver is that the only red line that can be drawn and no one can cross is violence. Other than that, they need to let their followers understand that people are free to belief likewise, otherwise, or not to believe at all.

About The Author

Yasser Harrak's picture

Alma mater: American Public University (MA, Grad Cert), Concordia University (BA). 


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