Upon first hearing the phrase "Arab Spring", it seemed to me that this spring was rife with skepticism and doubt. Born and raised in Bisha, which is completely Arab, I realized that in order for change to happen, various concepts had to change first before other things could change. I found that the world talks about change that has happened in order to affect change, and it is not change itself that necessitates change. My feelings were the same feelings I had when Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006. They are feelings of forlorness and ambiguity, which quite frankly impels me to say that what is happening is greater than what I understand, and more complicated than what I can wrap my mind around. The phrase "It's politics," is enough to put an end critical thinking and indicates the magnitude of this ambiguity which describes the situation.
Today, however, I understand what I did not understand and what others did not understand. There is a cancer spreading throughout the Arab countries in the name of religion. My religious knowledge does not exceed that of the average person who understands that life is a gift from God, and that it should only be terminated by the one who created it. This principle is enough to cause me, as it should with any unbiased, rational human being, to reject any attempt to use religion to justify murder, intimidation, ignorance, and violence.
When an attack happens in the name of religion, I read the news from various geographical locations and then proceed to read the comments posted by readers. For example, today I read the comments by readers on the websites of Al-Arabiyya and Al-Jazeera commenting on the attack in Paris, which killed nearly 12 people. All the comments condemned this attack and described them as cowardly and barbaric. Most importantly, the Arab readership was calling for a move to condemn such attacks and to make sure that the voices of condemnation and solidarity are louder than those of ignorance and murder. These voices resounded loud and clear.
This seemed a bit strange to me. What moves the Arab community to go out into the streets and protest when offensive cartoons are published, yet prevents them from going out and letting their voices be heard when innocent people are killed in the name of religion and the Prophet?
Why are the masses in Arab countries and Arab communities in Western countries motivated to mobilize and condemn an action that only represents an individual, which the media outlets greatly exaggerate, yet those same people are not motivated to mobilize and condemn the killing in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the attacks in Western countries?
Does the Prophet advocate mobilizing to condemn cartoons that have only been seen by a fraction of the population, thereby giving them immense popularity and encouragement, yet advocate silence when it comes to the security of innocent people of all faiths? The Prophet Muhammad would not be happy with the murder of anyone, nor do I think he cares about cartoons. I think that if millions of people today were to consider Syrian refugees in light of the piercing cold that penetrates their NGO-supplied tents, and perhaps they were to think of Arab children and how they will build snowmen in a pitiful attempt to enjoy their childhood in the midst of wars and instability, maybe they would realize that in the Middle East there are three million Syrian children without schools. Maybe the heavens could hear prayers for a new year in which peace prevails.
Why didn't Arabs get out and condemn the killing in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other nations? If the youth in these countries are the perpetrators of the so-called Arab Spring, in which aftermath we live today, it is better for this young generation to combat the thinking that poisons minds and ideas, attracts people in the name of religion, usurps liberty, and terrorizes an entire generation.
In light of this utter chaos, people go out in some European cities in the name of the Islamic police. Maybe you suggest that they stay home, concern themselves with work and raising their children, mind their business, and leave the others in peace. I was once a guest to a family among our cousins. There was a religious program on TV and when the boy, who was only 13 years old, heard the information, he said to his mother, who was listening with him, "This is not true. The cleric has made a mistake. I read about this in a book." The mother became angry and asked him to stop talking, telling him, "Shut up. He is right, and you are wrong." Most households bear such patterns of fear. And all this fear has caused a generation to arise that only believes in murder and the imposing their opinion on others.
These countries that are attacked by those who do so in the name of religion are able to embrace all religions and races under one umbrella, while some Arab countries have not been able to embrace two faiths, regardless of reasons which are mostly attributed to foreign conspiracies. Not long ago, many of the Germans protested against Islam in Germany, and a few days later the Germans also protested against racism and did so under the banner of a united people. Are Arabs unable to express their solidarity with those peoples who are exposed to such attacks?
It is a way of thinking that is not based on a solid rational foundation, for the word of God is their biggest justification for crimes against humanity and coexistence. Perhaps we find that the word of God could be used by non-Muslims to cover some of the crimes and desires. All of this fear has caused such practices to become daily behavior, which increases the risk of a rising number of people who adopt such behavior, especially by the upcoming generations who have experienced nothing but wars.
Regardless of what the future brings, it is our duty to pass down our demands to know what is actually going on? Is this way of thinking actually as a result of political and social conditions that carried over to religion and now act as dead weight? Or is it totally of foreign invention? People also have a right for their governments to know how to combat such thinking, and how it will protect its citizens. If Arabs were to protest against such terrorism, the "Spring" would begin at that moment. They would know what they want and what they don't want. The brutish minority does not have the right to eclipse the voices of the millions who reject such actions. It is unjust to be content with silence and refuse to speak out amongst ourselves, standing by idle. If Arabs are not compelled do anything and merely sit on their hands, they are in effect collaborators in this regard. There is no room for silent spectators of those who are steadily distorting our values and gaining control the security of Arab and Western nations alike. There is no future for the nation that is not driven by an interest in its future and the future generations. Silence is not in the interest of anyone; moreover, each of us is capable in his own way of rejecting violence and barbarism.
This is where audio, visual, and print media play a major role. We must address the public and make them an integral part of national plans to combat such types of intellectual and physical terrorism, whatever the source or reason. The risk of such thinking reaches the door of every house, thereby threatening all humanity, regardless of country, religion or nationality. We must also convey this message in institutions of learning, and make the upcoming generation aware that this is our biggest enemy, and that it is a cancer which threatens our nation, our way of thinking, and our humanity.