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الأخلاق: بين الموضوعية والتراكمية والضغط الإجتماعي

من الذي يحدد الأخلاق في المجتمع؟ إذا ما نظرنا للمجتمع الغربي، نجد أنّ العامل المؤثر بشكل أساسي على أخلاق الناس وتصرفاتهم إنما هو استقبال الناس لهذه التصرفات وردة فعلهم عليها، لا الموضوعية الحيادية للأخلاق للفرد نفسه. فموضوع العنصرية في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية مثلاً، لم ينته بعد - بل يُعتَقدُ أنّ مشكلة العنصرية ضدّ السود والأفرو-أمريكيين هناك لن تنتهي قريباً. فخُذ مثلاً مدينة معيّنة في ولاية معيّنة في أمريكا - تلك التي لم تصلها تبعات العولمة والتحضّر المتأخر حتى قُبَيل السبعينيات، ثم قارنها بنفسها في وقت متأخرٍ أكثر كالعقد الأول من القرن الحادي والعشرين، تجد أنّ الغالبية البيضاء في الماضي اضطهدت الأقلية السوداء عن تبعية عمياء - أي لأن الوضع القائم ليس فقط سمح بذلك، بل أقرّه. وبالمقابل، تجد هذه الأغلبية البيضاء اليوم تبتعد شيئاً فشيئا عن تلك النظرة العنصرية لعدة أسباب. والسؤال هنا هل تكوّن الأخلاق سبباً رئيساً في هذا التغيير، أم أن نظرة المجتمع وتبعات العنصرية والضغط الإجتماعي هو العامل الأساسي والوحيد؟ الواضح أنّ أكثر الناس عنصرية في أمريكا هُم أولئك الذين يعرّفون أنفسهم كمحافظين - ينتمي أكثرهم للحزب الجمهوري - أي المتديّنين. انتشرت في العامين الأخيرين مقاطع مصوّرة لنساء بِيض في مواقف فاضحة لعنصريّتهنّ وأسلوبهنّ المخزي والمحرّض ضدّ الأقليات - وخاصّة ضدّ السود. وصار اسمُ كارِن (Karen) وصفاً لكلّ امرأة تتصرّف بتلك الطريقة. والغريب في هذه المقاطع المصوّرة هو أنّ جزءاً لا بأس به من تلك النسوة يراجعن أنفسهنّ ويعتذرن بعد انتشار المقطع، والحقيقة هي أنّ هذا الاعتذار والتراجع ليس نتيجة وجود ضمير يقظ يملي عليهنّ أخلاقهنّ، وليس نتيجة وجود أخلاق موضوعيّة غير تراكمية منفصلة عن المشاعر والأحاسيس الإنسانية، خارج المنظومة الشعورية والذاتية للإنسان. بل السبب هو الضغط الإجتماعي. والدليل هو أنّ الاعتذار عادةً ما يكون نتيجة لخسارة تلك المرأة العنصريّة وظيفتها في شركة ما، أو منحتها الجامعية، أو أصدقائها ومعارفها. بل وأكثر من ذلك، فهي خسرت حياتها تماماً - لم تُشَهَّر على التلفاز الوطني فقط، بل لن يقبل تشغيلها أحدٌ عنده أبداً. هذا ما يحدث للمجتمع الذي يؤمن بالأخلاق التراكمية والذاتية. أما الإسلام فيقرّ أنّ الله هو مصدر الأخلاق، أي أنّه لا وجود للأخلاق الذاتية التي تتبع الأحاسيس الإنسانية والمشاعر المتغيّرة مع تغيّر السياق والزمان والمكان. في مجتمع تكون فيه القيم والأخلاق تراكمية، كما يبيّن حمزة تزورتزس في كتابه "الحقيقة الإلهية: الله والإسلام وسراب الإلحاد"، لا يمكن أن تلقي اللوم على النازيين في ألمانيا، أو على داعش، أو الـKKK، وذلك لأن الأخلاق والقيم في ذلك الزمان هي مرتبطة إمّا بالضغط الإجتماعي social pressure أو بِكَون الأخلاق موجودة بصفاتها وتعريفاتها كما هي، منفصلة عن الإنسان ومشاعره وأيضاً عن الله وكينونته - وهو ما يسمى بالواقعية الأخلاقية moral realism. وهذين الادعاءين باطلين لأنّ كون الضغط الإجتماعي هو المحدّد للأخلاق فعلى الدنيا السلام - فداعش والنازيون والـKKK لا بأس عليهم، لأنهم اتبعوا الوضع القائم (تماماً كما اتبع البيض الوضع القائم في أمريكا ضدّ الأفارقة). وأما الواقعية الأخلاقية فلا يمكن تفسيرها، ذلك أنّ تعريف الأخلاق نابعٌ من كونها متّصلة بكينونة معيّنة. فإذا ما استبعدنا احتمالية وجود أساسها عند الإنسان، كان لا بدّ أن نجد لها أساساً غيره، فلا يمكنها أن توجَد بلا أساس في الفراغ. وهذا الأساس لا بدّ أن يكون الله سبحانه وتعالى، لأنّ كونَ الأخلاق موضوعية يوجِب علينا أن نتّبعها، ولا يكون ذلك شرطاً إذا ما كانت الأخلاق بلا مصدر محدّد. والنتيجة: لم تكُن العنصريّة في الإسلام أبداً، وما زال الغرب متوحلاً بمشكلة العنصرية وغيرها من المشاكل الأخلاقية التي لم يجد لها حلاً أو إجابةً مقنعة. للتوسّع:
https://bit.ly/2OAe1Ye
https://bit.ly/3l0GGSt

Don't Be Original. Be Unique.

“Creativity takes courage. ”
― Henri Matisse Art never originates from nothingness. Art is an expression — a connection that you form with the recipient, but most importantly, with yourself. Artists often misunderstand creativity. They think that to be creative they have to come up with something 100% original — something no one ever thought of doing. The problem is that not only is it a flawed approach to creativity, but it’s also impossible in terms of practicality. A concept can be original. That doesn’t make it creative. In the field of humanities, where every theory, term, concept, and work is abstract and subject to different opinions and interpretations, it’s impossible to really be original. People who judge work on creativity mix originality with uniqueness because they expect it to be different. That’s what it really means: to be original is to come up with an idea — a groundbreaking idea — that no one has ever come up with. It’s the very definition of being different. When you opt to be original rather than unique, two problems emerge: You constrain your talent to new, unprecedented ideas, whilst it can run wild and recreate existing notions and ideas in a much more compelling way, or present new aspects in existing trends. You burn out trying to come up with something entirely novel. It’s impossible. You waste your energy on originating art that not only is impossible but also may or may not work. I can’t help but quote Jim Jarmusch: “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.” In writing, there is little room for originality. We have already a plethora of topics, fields, and stories that we can explore, and so instead of creating new niches or genres, it’s a better tradeoff if we take existing ones and branch out of them. Success, especially in subjects of art and creativity, is not measured by how much originality is involved in the created content, but how much innovation is involved. So, stop worrying about writing the next completely-new thing, and instead focus on reworking existing trends and genres, and exploring different sections of these topics. Focus on being unique, not original. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” — Pablo Picasso Originally published on Medium in September.

المقاطعة ليست مجرّد ترِند عابِر

إنّ من أغرب مميزات هذا الزمن سُرعة انتشار ومن ثم اندثار الحملات والأخبار والأحداث المتتالية، فلا تكاد تطلّ علينا نزعة حديثة حتى تلحقها أخرى - إن كان ذلك في السياسة أو الفنّ أو الأخبار الـ"صاعقة". فانظر مثلاً كيف تلاشت أخبار الانتخابات الأمريكية وصار دونالد ترامب شخصيّةً من التاريخ العابر، وكيف أصبحت أخبار فيروس كورونا كحالة الطقس، ترافقنا كلّ صباح. كيف باتت حرب أذربيجان وأرمينيا كحرب العالمية الأولى بقدمها، وكيف صارت أخبار القتل في بلادنا أخباراً يوميّة، نقرأها ونُكمِلُ التصفّح لننسى اسم الضحيّة في اليوم التالي. إنّ خبر التغريب والترهيب الذي يلاحق المسلمين في فرنسا ليس خبراً عاديّاً، وليس مختلفاً عنه خبر سبّ النبيّ ورسمه. عندما يمسّ المسلمين أمرٌ في أي مكانٍ في العالم، وعندما تتطاول الكلاب على أشرف خلق الله، ينتفض المسلمون انتفاضةً سلميّة للحقّ تهابها أعتى جيوش العالم. فها هي شركة دانون تسرّح نحو 2000 عاملٍ لديها، وشركة توتال تدْرُس الاستغناء عن عاملين لديها في فرنسا. حملة المقاطعة هذه ليست مجرّد ترند عابر، بل هي أكبر من ذلك. مقاطعة فرنسا مستمرّة، ولو اعتذروا ومنعوا نشر الرسومات. إن كانت مقاطعتنا بدأت بسبب تطاولهم على النبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم، فلتستمرّ المقاطعة بسبب تحريضهم ضدّ المسلمين، وإمبرياليتهم في الدول الأفريقية الفقيرة، ودعمهم للإرهاب حول العالم، وتاريخهم الدمويّ الحافل. فلتكُن نصرتنا للنبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم شرارة نصرة المسلمين المستضعفين حول العالَم. وعلى إثر ذلك، تبدأ حملات المقاطعة للمنتجات الصينيّة، التي يُستَعبَدُ لإنتاجِها المسلمين الإيجور بلا أجر. أمّة الملياري مُسلم اليوم غثاءٌ كغثاء السّيل، لا حيلة لها ولا وسيلة أخرى غير المقاطعة السلميّة، فمعروفٌ عنّا كثرة الاستهلاك وقلّة الإنتاج. ومن يسخر من هذه الحملات أبلهٌ ليسَ له مكانة ولا شخصيّة، بل ذليلٌ يعشق الذلّ والاستعباد. أتُرى حينما تطأ قدماك فرنسا، هل يفرّقون بينك وبَين المتديّن؟ قد تستغرب أنّهم يكرهون النصارى من العرب، فكيف بالمسلمين؟ قد لا تكون المقاطعة مجدية أو مثرية، لكنّها وسامٌ يميز الخبيث من الطيّب، يُغربِل المنافقين من بيننا ويعرّيهم. إن قلتَ إنّ الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم لا تضرّه أي شتيمةٍ أو رسمٍ، أؤكد لك ذلك. وإن قلتَ إنّ المقاطعة لن تنفع، قلتُ ليس هذا هدفي. وإن قلتَ إن المقاطعة غير عمليّة! قلتُ: إنّك تقاطع محلّات بأكملها لارتفاع أسعارها، وتمتنع عن الفواكه في أوّل موسمها، وتجري بسرعة لملئ خزّان سيارتك قبل ارتفاع سعر الوقود. #مقاطعون #مقاطعة #فرنسا #مقاطعة_المنتجات_الفرنسية

Trump & The Evangelist Agenda

Trump is fulfilling a prophecy. Evangelicalism, or Christian Zionism, is a major religious party of the Protestant church that emerged in the 18th century in Europe and the United States. In short, it is a "movement" which holds a strict belief in the existence of the "pure Christian state," on the basis of the superiority of the Biblical text and the Christian doctrine. In addition, Evangelists believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ and paves the way for his return. Christian Zionism, as its name suggests, is one of the biggest supporters of the state of Israel in the United States. Why? Because the existence of a Jewish state is a prophecy that foreshadows the return of Jesus. People tend to think of Evangelicalism as simply a religious group with stricter notions about Christianity and faith. However, this particular group has an agenda, which is tightly entrenched in U.S. politics. President Donald Trump is an Evangelical and is unsurprisingly surrounded by Evangelicals in the White House, whose sole purpose is ensuring the continuation and fulfillment of the Evangelical prophecy. If we look at Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, it leaves no doubt that Trump is a loyal evangelical, who has continuously emphasized his Christian beliefs, his capitalistic lifestyle, and, deceivingly, democracy—and perhaps even the dreariest of all—the superiority of white. The biggest terrorist in the world today isn't ISIS. It isn't the Taliban, it isn't al-Qaeda. The biggest terrorist in the world today (and even since the bygone 3 centuries) is the United States of America without a shadow of a doubt. And if we were to count the numbers of casualties, fatalities, usurped lands, stolen resources, destroyed hopes and dreams, we won't be able to contain these even in the longest war bill. The U.S. is the number-one instigator of wars in the Middle East and has been toying around with South American developing countries since its foundation. It fought against Mexico in 1846 and looked to buy Cuba from Spain as a "slave state" in 1854, in what was known as the Ostend Manifesto. This, in addition to the conflicts and wars that were tied in between the two Americas, led to the Civil War. The world faced WWI and shortly afterward WWII, a timeframe in which the United States took it upon itself to rise as a hegemon in the political and military arena, with a direct sphere of influence on developing countries. Therefore, the USA was at liberty to "save" the doomed states of the world - like Iraq - and introduce them to the peace of democracy at the outset of the 21st century. Democracy, mind you, is still not a thing in the United States itself. While promoting democracy to "undemocratic" states around the world, America still has a strong presence of racial discrimination against African Americans and other minorities and suffers from several social issues - which have ignited the flame of protests after the death of Geroge Floyd. Trump's Political Journey Donald Trump started his political journey in 1987. Before that, he was a famous businessman who inherited his father's empire, and - unsurprisingly - a TV laughingstock. He registered as a Republican in 1987, and transferred twice - once to the Reform Party and once to the Democratic Party - but eventually settled back to the Republicans. Trump tried to run for president in 2000 as a representative of the Reform Party, but his attempt was futile and his chances were slim, so he withdrew from the race. He simply did not have a chance against George Bush. In 2004, he mused the idea of running again but did not take the step forward. In 2008, however, he endorsed John McCain - the losing candidate against Barack Obama. In 2011, when Obama had completed three years at the White House, Trump was invited to the WHCA annual dinner at the White House, which hosts all White House correspondents. At the dinner, Obama made fun of Trump, who was a host of The Celebrity Apprentice for a full five minutes, with a grim set on Trump's face. Five years passed. Trump won the presidential elections after 8 years of Barack Obama. Some people argue that the dinner night was the turning point in Trump's life - it was at that moment that he had decided to run for president. And despite the fact that Trump has refuted the allegation, it is clear - what with his lack of political nimbleness and social intelligence - that he did not run to "make America great." The New York Times reports that Trump ran for president to avenge himself and his laughable character - to reclaim his reputation and presence. He was, after all, a TV fool and a comical character who was never taken seriously. In the past two decades, the image of "political Islam" was desecrated, what with the rise of Islamic politicization in several Arab states, prominently in Egypt. The idea of "state and church" (or "state and mosque") was defined as a cancerous concept. Seculars criticized the Islamic agenda for a functional state, alleging that Arabs and Muslims must follow suit and secularize politics. But to denounce the interrelation of church and state in the United States is very unsubstantiated. Evangelicals believe in the literal meanings of the Bible, and believe that Christ will save humanity in his second coming, in which he will destroy the disbelievers and rule the earth. Despite the small discrepancies and the doctrinal variety, evangelicals make up 6-40% of all American Christians. 81% of them, per USA elections statistics in 2016, voted for Trump (source: Wikipedia). If we do a simple math equation, we find that 35% of American Christians (85,000,000) are evangelicals, who believe in the idea of "Christian America" - a completely religious state, where the Bible is considered an agenda, a strategy book, and a roadmap. ​ Some people think that Zionism is pertinent to Jewish people only, because it describes the attainment of "home" for Jews. However, 80% of evangelicals believe in the idea of the "gathering of Israel," and believe that it is a condition for Christ to return. Christian Zionism is also one of the biggest supporters of Israel in the United States. ​ Trump may not have external Christian looks. He may not wear a cross or have his picture taken reciting the Bible or walking to church. But he rules with the Bible and uses it as a visionary roadmap that progresses the prophecies, one after the other, announcing and preparing the return of Christ. Say otherwise, but his foreign policy is proof of that. ​The surprising thing is that secular activists have rallied against Erdoğan and Muhammad Morsi because they tried to "Islamicize" politics or "politicize" Islam. They call him a terroristic, fanatical Caliph who suppresses rights and supports terrorism. But never did we hear a thing about American policy and the influence Christian Zionism has on the foreign policy in the White House. ​ In short, white, conservative Americans, who are often described as backward, stupid, and hardheaded, are free to promote a religious state that is based on racial discrimination and white supremacy. Muslims, on the other hand, cannot. Translated from Arabic. Read the original text here. Inspired by a video by Vox on the same subject.

ما بعد سايكس-بيكو: قراءة تحليلية عربية

ما هي تبعات إتفاقية سايكس-بيكو التي أبرمت عام 1916، وما هو سبب حماس بريطانيا وفرنسا لاستعمار الشرق الأوسط؟ قراءة تحليلية عربية في نتائج الإتفاقية، وماهية المشكلة الآنية في المنطقة التي غيرتها هذه الإتفاقية إلى الأبد... تُعدُّ إتفاقيّة سايكس-بيكو (1916) من الإتفاقيّات القليلة التي غيّرت مجرى التاريخ، والتي ما زال العالَم يلتمس نتائجها اليوم. فقد طرأت تغييرات كثيرة في الشّرق الأوسط بعد هذه الإتفاقيّة، منها تغييرات جغرافيّة وأخرى وطنيّة، لمدىً يصِلُ إلى حدّ تأثير هذه الإتفاقيّة على مجرى الأحداث التي لحقتها بوقتٍ قصير.

تُقسَمُ تبعات إتفاقيّة سايكس-بيكو إلى ثلاثة أقسام. يُعنى القسمُ الأوّل بتجزئة الشّرق الأوسط، وخَلق دُوَلٍ عربيّة جديدة في الشّام والحجاز وبلاد ما بين النّهرين. أمّا القسم الثاني، فيُعنى بالوطنيّة العربيّة الجديدة وتكوّنها وتبلورِها في أجندات الحركات الوطنيّة في المنطقة، والتي أخذت شكلاً ثابتاً في شكل سياسات داخليّة وخارجيّة لهذه الدّول، بعد 100 عام من توقيع الإتفاقيّة. ويُعنى القسمُ الثالث بتأثير الإتفاقيّة على العلاقات الدبلوماسيّة العالميّة، تحديداً أخذها منحنى الشفافيّة والعَلَنيّة بين الدّول.

مقدّمة تاريخيّة
في فترة الحرب العالميّة الأولى، اجتمعت القوى الأوروبيّة العُظمى (فرنسا وبريطانيا) واتّفقت على تقسيم أراضي الدّولة العثمانيّة - الرجل المريض - بعد سنوات من الحماس والتربّص لاقتتالها الخارجيّ مع روسيا والمشاكل السياسيّة والإجتماعيّة الداخليّة. كانت مساعي سايكس-بيكو قد بدأت عام 1915 بين فرنسا وبريطانيا بـموافقةٍ روسيّة لتجزئة الأراضي العثمانيّة في الشّرق الأوسط. عَزَم الدبلوماسيّ البريطانيّ السّير مارك سايكس ونظيره الفرنسيّ فرنسوا جورج بيكو على رَسمِ خريطة جديدة، تصِف الشرق الأوسط الجديد بعد حقبة الدّولة العثمانيّة.

في نفس الفترة الزمنيّة التي عُقِدَت فيها المحادثات بين سايكس وبيكو، كان قد أقدَم الشّريف حسين بن علي (شريفُ مكّة) على محادثاتٍ دبلوماسيّة مع هنري مكماهون لتحضير "الثورة العربيّة الكبرى" ضدّ الدّولة العثمانيّة، وأُعطِيَ حسين على إثرها وعداً بدولةٍ عربيّة مستقلّة. لكنّها كانت حبراً على ورق ولم تُنفّذ قَط. كانت إتفاقيّة سايكس-بيكو أبعد ما يكون عن إتفاقيّة ترضي العرب، فقد قسّمت المناطق العربيّة خارج شبه جزيرة العرب إلى مناطق ذات نفوذ بريطانيّ وفرنسيّ.

مع اقتراب زوال الدّولة العثمانيّة، أقدمت بريطانيا على تأمين مصالِحها في الشّرق الأوسط، وتأمين منفذٍ إلى البحر المتوسّط. وباختصار، فقد أعطت هذه الإتفاقيّة أراضي جنوب فلسطين، الأردنّ، جنوب العراق، بالإضافة إلى موانئ حيفا وعكّا لبريطانيا، بينما مَنَحت فرنسا سيطرة إداريّة على لبنان وسوريّا وشمال العِراق وشرق-جنوب تُركيا.

لاقَت إتفاقيّة سايكس-بيكو (وما زالت) نقداً شديداً من العرب والمجتمع الدّولي، لكونها ناقضت الوعود البريطانيّة للعرب عام 1916 وأسّست إدارةً إستعماريّة على الدّول العربيّة حديثة الولادة في الشرق الأوسط.

بناء الدُول في الشّرق الأوسط
لإرضاء مصالِح كِلا الطرفين، جُزِّئت بلاد العراق والشام والحجاز إلى مناطق نفوذ بريطانيّ وفرنسيّ. كان التقسيم جغرافيّاً على أرض الواقع، لكنّ وراءه كان ما هو أكبر من ذلك: كانت المصلحة الأساسيّة لهذا التقسيم المطامع الإقتصاديّة المتعلقة بالمصالِح الوطنيّة البريطانيّة والفرنسيّة. ولهذا، زَيف هذه الدُول الحديثة بعد سايكس-بيكو كان أساسها الإقتصاد والمال والموارد الطبيعيّة، وليس كما قيل، أنّها اهتمّت بمصالح الشعوب في هذه المناطق.

يقول طُربين (1987) بأنّ إتفاقيّة سايكس-بيكو هي سرقة للنصر العربيّ على الدّولة العثمانيّة، وهي نقضٌ صريح للوعود التي أعطيت للشريف حسين من قبل بريطانيا. الولايات العثمانيّة في الشرق العربيّ أصبحت دويلات عربيّة تحت حُكمٍ إداريّ ونفوذ بريطانيّ وفرنسيّ، بلا أي ذرة من الاهتمام لمصالح ومطالِب الشعوب أو المنطقة (ص147-149). وأيّ مثالٍ أفضل على ذلك من التعديلات التي طرأت على الإتفاقيّة الأصليّة، التي نصّت على شروطٍ جديدة لخدمة مصالح الدول الإستعماريّة؛ فأقيمت الحدود بين الدول الجديدة في الشّام على أساس المحادثات التي كانت قائمة بين بريطانيا وفرنسا فقط.

فكان الموصل مثلاً جزءاً من منطقة النفوذ الفرنسيّة حسب الإتفاقيّة الأصليّة. لكن بعد احتلاله من قبل بريطانيا، وطمع الأخيرة بنفط الموصل، طُلِب من فـرنسا تعديل الإتفاقيّة ليُسَجَّل الموصل كجزءٍ من منطقة بريطانيا. في سوريا، أقدَمَ الاحتلال الفرنسيّ على إحداث شرخٍ في الوحدة السوريّة وتحطيمها من الداخل، مجزئين بذلك سوريا إلى أربع دويلات صغيرة منفصلة عن بعضها البعض تماماً (طُربين، 1987، ص150).

أثبتت السيطرة على المناطق العربيّة طمع بريطانيا في الحفاظ على مصالحها الوطنيّة، وكذلك فرنسا، مؤصّلين في ذلك الزَيف الجغرافيّ والإجتماعيّ للدُول الحديثة، التي عبّر عنها (بالي، 2016) بكونها أداة لتبرير الإدارة الإستعماريّة للمنطقة (ص118).

يُجدر بي أن أذكر أنّ بريطانيا وفرنسا عملتا على تقسيم الأراضي التي كان قد استلمها الشريف حسين اسمياً لدولته العربيّة المستقلّة (روچان، 2015، ص101). كان الشريف حسين في محادثات عديدة امتدّت لأربعة أشهرٍ مع مكماهون، انتهت بوعدٍ من الأخير لحسين أن يتمّ إقامة "مملكة عربيّة." لكنّ حسين لم يُرِد أن يُغضِبَ بريطانيا وأن يعكّر صفو العلاقة الإئتلافيّة بينها وبين فرنسا، ولذلك رضِيَ بمساوماتٍ جغرافيّة - فمثلاً أعطى الولايات العراقيّة لبريطانيا طوعاً مقابلَ مبلغٍ ماليّ يُدفَعُ حسب فترة الاحتلال. وكذلك سلّمَ سوريا لفرنسا بعد تردّد.

يقول روچان: "إنّ المطالبات الفرنسيّة بـسوريا كانت أكثر صعوبةً ليتقبّلها الأمير (حسين). فقد أصرّ على كون المناطق السوريّة "عربيّة بالكامل" ولا يُمكنُ المساومة عليها أو إستثنائها من المملكة العربيّة. لكن خلال محادثتهما، استسلم حسين لمطالب فرنسا، لئلّا يدقّ إسفيناً بين فرنسا وبريطانيا وإتفاقيتهما." (ص101).

بُنيَت الهندسة الإستعماريّة على عواملَ إقتصاديّة ومصالح رأسماليّة تابعةٍ لبريطانيا وفرنسا في المنطقة. كانت الموارد الطبيعيّة ومصادر الطاقة والماء من أهمّ اعتبارات التخطيط، كالأنهار والبحار والنفط والغاز الطبيعي، إضافةً إلى قيمة الموانئ الثمينة عندها (طرابلسي، 2016، ص13).

بمجرّد النظر إلى وقاحة بريطانيا في بدء محادثات مختلفة بخصوص الشرق الأوسط والدولة العثمانية بالوقت ذاته، نستطيع أن نجزم بأنّ بريطانيا لم تأخذ بالحسبان مصلحة المنطقة. وهذا مذكورٌ بلا خجل في المحادثات الرسميّة بين السير إدوارد غراي وبول كامبون، والتي تتضمن إتفاقية سايكس-بيكو بأكملها. تذكر المحادثات حرفياً بأنّ لبريطانيا وفرنسا "يُسمح بإقامة إدارة مباشرة أو غير مباشرة أو سيطرة بحسب إرادتهما وبحسب ما يريانه مناسباً للإتفاق مع الدّولة العربيّة أو كنفدراليّة الولايات العربيّة." (غراي وكامبون، 1916).

حاولت بريطانيا إثارة العرب في الشرق الأوسط تمهيداً لإندلاع الثورة ضدّ الدولة العثمانيّة، مع وعدٍ منها للعرب بدولةٍ عربيّة مستقلّة. لكنّ الهدف الرئيسي من ذلك الوعد الكاذب كان السيطرة على الشرق الأوسط واستعماره بمشاركة فرنسا. يكتُبُ أوتاواي (2015) أنّه لم يكن لفرنسا وبريطانيا خبرة أو تجربة مسبقة في بناء الدّول في الخارج. كان الإستعمار معنياً بالسيطرة والتهدئة والإدارة بثمنٍ بخس، لا بناء دول جديدة. (ص5).

يوضّح كيتشينغ (2016) أنّ التقسيم الجغرافي كان مبنياً على أساس الهوى بدلاً من التطبيق العمليّ. فقد تمّ التغاضي والتغافل عن المجـموعات العرقية المختلفة والنزاعات التقليدية والتوترات الدينيّة والعقديّة في المنطقة. أدّى تجاهل هذه العوامل إضافةً لمصالح المنطقة الأخرى إلى مشكلةٍ أكبر في الشرق الأوسط، كما يوضّح بالي (2016). وكانت النتيجة ما نراه اليوم في الشرق الأوسط، من نزاعات وطنيّة أرجعت الشرق الأوسط إلى ما يشبه العصر الجاهليّ، فالمصريّ يتغنّى بمصريّته والأردنيّ يرقص على نغمة نشيده الوطنيّ والسوريّ واللبنانيّ في عداوة ثقيلة.

الهويّة الوطنيّة العربيّة: تزايد الوطنيّة المحدودة
ما إن عَلِم الشريف حسين بخطّة بريطانيا وفرنسا لتقسيم الدولة العثمانية، اختفت علامات البهجة من على محيّاه عندما تمّ كشف الإتفاقيّة السريّة من قبل البلاشفة في روسيا عام 1917. كان حسين في صدمة، حيث أنّه لم يكن على دراية بالأمر من قبل، وهرول بسرعةٍ للاستفسار من صديقته، بريطانيا العظمى. لكن الردّ البريطانيّ المتمثل برسالة (باسيت) في شهر فبراير من عام 1918 أكّد لحسين أنّ ذكر إتفاقية سريّة ليست إلّا خدعة أخرى من خدع الأتراك. لكنّ الرسالة لم تنفي وجود هذه الإتفاقيّة أو مصداقيتها، بل أعطت عرضاً مبهماً لماهيّة وحجم الإتفاقيّة، بحسب أقوال أنطونيوس (1938، ص257). هدّأت الرسالة من روع حسين، واطمئنّ بأن الحلفاء وقفوا وراء العرب ومصالحهم.

بالتزامن مع الكشف عن وعد بلفور، أحدثت إتفاقيّة سايكس-بيكو صاعقةً عند العرب، خاصّة بعد أن ألمح وعد بلفور أن ليس للعرب حريّة سياسيّة في فلسطين. سبّبت هذه الحادثة سلسلةً من المظاهرات من قبل القيادات العربيّة في القاهرة. يذكر أنطونيوس أنّ القوى البريطانيّة في مِصر - بمساعدة التعتيم المكثّف والدعايات الفعّالة - نجحت بزَيغ العرب ومنع سقوط الثورة {العربيّة الكبرى}.

بدأ العرب بتشكيل صيغةٍ من الكراهيّة للتدخّل الأجنبيّ بعد الكشف عن الإتفاقيات. وبدأت قبضة الهاشميين على السلطة في مختلف المناطق العربيّة بالتزعزع أمام القيادات القبليّة والحركات الوطنيّة، خاصّة في الحجاز. أدركت الطبقة العليا السياسية في مِصر مثلاً هدفهم الرئيس. بعد 36 سنةً من الاحتلال البريطانيّ، أرادوا أن تتحرّر مِصر وتصبح دولةً مستقلّة. لكنّ بريطانيا ردّت بتعزيز قوّتها العسكريّة وتمديدها للمناطق التي لاقت ازدياداً بالتعبير عن الرفض والمعارضة. حتّى وصل الأمر بأن يتّهم المصريون بريطانيا باستخدام الذخيرة الحيّة ضدّ المتظاهرين وحرق القُرى وحتّى الاغتصاب. (روجان، 2015، ص103).

في سوريا، أعطت بريطانيا المُلك لفيصل، ابن الشريف حسين بن علي، تقديراً لمجهودهما ومساعدتهما ضدّ الدولة العثمانية في المنطقة. لكن أراد فيصل أن تكون سوريا دولةً مستقلّة تشمل فلسطين وشرق الأردن، وكان ذلك مسعى الوطنيّين في سوريا كذلك، الذين حظوا بتمثيل جيّد في البرلمان المُنتخَب عام 1919. لكن سرعان ما أثبتت معارضة فيصل الخطر المحدق به من المستعمر. يذكُر روجان (2015) أنّ في الأول من نوفمبر 1919، قامت بريطانيا بسحب جيشها من سوريا، وسلّمت مفاتيح الدولة لحُكم فرنسا العسكريّ، ما أدّى إلى قيام المجلس التشريعي السوريّ العامّ لإعلان استقلال سوريا في تاريخ 8 مارس 1920، معلِنين بذلك فيصل ملِكاً عليهم.

دعمت بريطانيا الشريف حسين بن علي في زمن المحادثات الأوليّة عام 1916، متيحين له أن يتصوّر ويتخيّل دولةً عربيّة مستقلّة عن العثمانيين الذين حكموا المنطقة لقرون. وبمجرّد ضعف القبضة العثمانيّة، برز الوطنيون في القاهرة ودمشق وبغداد وغيرها. أدّى تصوّر الشريف حسين لدولة عربيّة إلى ازديادٍ ملحوظ لروح الوطنيّة عند العرب.

إضافةً إلى الفراغ الذي خلّفته بريطانيا وفرنسا في الشّام فيما يتعلق بالعرب، كانت من أبرز ميزات التجاهل المتعمّد لبريطانيا هي قضيّة الإستقلال الكرديّ. كانت لبريطانيا القوّة لدرء الثورة وقمع المعارضة، لكن لم يكُن لديها الوقت أو السعة لبناء نظامٍ سياسيّ ومؤسسات وهويّة مشتركة فعّالة. وعدت بريطانيا العرب في العراق حكماً ذاتياً جزئياً، مدعوماً من قبل الحلفاء، لكن سرعان ما التقط العراقيون إشارات السخط من مِصر وسوريا وثوراتها، ما أدّى إلى اشتباه العراقيين بخطّة بريطانيا، خصوصاً بعد مرور أشهرٍ بلا أي تقدّم محسوس نحو الحُكم الذاتيّ. في مؤتمر سان ريمو، أخذت بريطانيا العراق كدولة انتداب، الأمر الذي أكّد للعراقيين شكوكهم بمدى مصداقيّة بريطانيا. هُنا يذكر روجان: "في أواخر يونيو 1920، ثارَ العراق تمرّداً على الحُكم البريطانيّ بانتظامٍ وانضباط، مهدّدين البريطانيين في البصرة وبغداد والموصل."

إنّ تبعات إتفاقيّة سايكس-بيكو تفوق النتائج الجغرافيّة والديموغرافيّة. وهذه الأمثلة تدلّ على طمع بريطانيا وفرنسا واهتمامهما بمصالحهما الشخصيّة، لا بشرقٍ أوسط ما بعد الدولة العثمانيّة. وخيرُ دليلٍ على ذلك هي الخارطة التي رسمها السير مارك سايكس وفرنسوا جورج بيكو، حيث كانت طريقةً لانتهاز الفرص وتأمين المصالح الإقتصاديّة والتوسّع الإمبرياليّ على حساب المصالح الوطنيّة في العراق والشّام. أخذت الوطنيّة العربيّة شكلاً مختلفاً تماماً بعد التنفيذ شبه التّام للإتفاقيّة. عِوَضاً عن جبهةٍ عربيّة متّحدة تحت سقف دولة عربيّة واحدة - كما وعدت بريطانيا - وجد العرب أنفسهم في هذه الأراضي المبتورة أمام التوسّع البريطانيّ، الذي أدّى إلى تكوّن هويّات وطنيّة متعدّدة في مختلف المناطق والـ"دول" الجديدة. مصادر: Antonius, G. (1938). The Arab awakening: The story of the Arab national movement. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott. Bâli, A. (2016). Sykes-Picot and “artificial” states. AJIL Unbound, 110, 115-119. Donaldson, M. (2017). The survival of the secret treaty: Publicity, secrecy, and legality in the international order. American Journal of International Law, 111(3), 575-627. Hudson, M. (1925). The registration and publication of treaties. The American Journal of International Law, 19(2), 273-292. Kitching, P. (2016). The Sykes-Picot agreement and lines in the sand. Historian, (128), 18-22. League of Nations. (1919). The Covenant of the League of Nations. Montreal: A.T. Chapman. McMahon, H., and Hussein, Ali. (n.d.). The McMahon-Hussein Correspondence 1915-1916 [Correspondence]. Ottaway, M. (2015). Learning from Sykes-Picot. Middle East Program Occasional Paper Series. Washington, DC: Wilson Center.‏ Quigley, J. (2017). Leon Trotsky and the prohibition against secret treaties. Journal of the History of International Law, 19(2), 246-273.‏ Rogan, E. (2015). A century after Sykes-Picot. The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, 19. Ṭarābulsī, F. (2016, Spring). Miʾiawīaẗu Sāīks Bīkū: Al-Harāʾīṭ Wāltārīẖ [The centenary of Sykes-Picot: Maps and history]. Bidayat Magazine, (14), 4-13. Turbeen, A. (1987). Al-taǧziʾiaẗu al-ʿarabīah kaīfa taḥaqaqat tārīẖīan [The Arab partition: How it happened historically]. Markazu dirāsātu al-wiḥdaẗi al-ʿarabīā [Center for Arab Unity Studies]. Wilson, W. (1918, January 8). President Wilson's Fourteen Points [Speech]. World War I Document Archive. Sykes-Picot Agreement. (1915).

The Middle East Needs Liberation from the Inside

Foreign interventions and internal conflicts have created a hellhole. Time to fix it. An indispensable rule when looking at the status quo of a state, especially in the Middle East, is the rule of gradual appropriation of certain concepts, beliefs, and social norms by the government. When I say government, I surely also mean the media, the various institutions, and the judiciary branch, which are either directly or indirectly influenced by the government. Gradual appropriation is often forced upon the nation piece by piece — a law amendment here, an executive order there, a military announcement every a couple of weeks. Until there’s no return to previous states, and whether people like these bite-size transformations does not change the fact that they’re here to stay. For dictators, government decisions are not up for discussion among citizens or the media. But gradual appropriation isn’t why the Middle East is living its most deplorable situation for decades. Not just economically; think on a more unscalable level. Everything about society — whether as a small nation or an Arab sphere in the Middle East — has been either neglected, suppressed, or killed. One of the main reasons, unsurprisingly, are dictatorships. Puppet regimes inserted in states, and éminence grise subjects pulling the strings for Western powers. The Middle East isn’t the same anymore. Ever since the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the ensuing changes in geopolitical alignments, the unending Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Arab Spring outbursts in recent years, the Middle East has become a hellhole. An unbearable, uncontrolled playground for dictators to dictate and for foreign powers to bully. Arab nations in the Middle East who have pledged and envisioned a better future for their countries and taken it upon themselves to prompt change have been suppressed by the despotic rule. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood initiative was undermined and resisted, eventually leading to Mohammad Morsi being overthrown by the army years ago. Now, an insolent dictatorship is not only worsening the economic downturn but also reestablishing non-revolution initiatives with both secular and religious facades.

In Tunisia, while the revolution has had a pretty positive outcome in the grand scheme of things, the political realm in the country still faces schisms and imbalance.

In Libya, a wartorn country that has not seen the light of day for decades now, foreign powers see it as an opportunity to abuse and demonstrate firepower.

In Syria, war is still ongoing, with over half a million casualties. There does not seem to be an end, especially with foreign powers using the land space to test firepower.

In Yemen, US-backed UAE and KSA forces have rendered the country uninhabitable, with Hothi militias taking control and establishing a rule of their own.

In Palestine, the Arab-Israeli conflict has no apparent ending that is both hopeful and reassuring. With continuous transgressions on every end by the Israeli forces and an unrelenting resistance by Palestinian groups — as well as an incompetent, idiocratic, and puppet ruler as the president of Palestine — the conflict can only continue to worsen.

In Iraq, I don’t even know where to begin. Turkey, on the other hand, is rising in power, both economic and military, with a huge emphasis on regional and geopolitical influence, which goes head-to-head against Greek ambitions and willpower to eradicate Turkey. The Middle East has been facing authoritarian regimes and all kinds of terrorism from militia groups either pretending to be ultranationalistic or following Islamic law for decades now. Since the infectious US interventionism reached the region, most prominently after 9/11, with allegations that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction and that it needed liberation with forced democracy, it became evident that the Middle East was to face long-term problems. But then again, as with every nation over the long course of history, true liberation does not come from the outside. It is unfeasible to expect or wait for foreign interference to resolve national conflicts. The political scene in the Middle East has been secularized in a major way, especially after the resurfacing of “Islamic extremism,” which, by the way, has nothing to do with the major belief of Muslims or the Islamic jurisprudence (known to you as sharia law). With this secularization, political parties tend often to look up to likeminded parties in the West. This raises a few problems, which pertain to the idiosyncrasies of the Middle East and the Arabian peninsula. With the dismantlement of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East was struck with a wave of Western influence, mainly British and French. This influence was primarily focused on turning Arab provinces and tribes against the Ottoman rule, thus forming a united Arab front to face off the Turkish regime and establish an Arab state. The Ottoman Empire in its last years was a deformed extension of the Islamic Ottoman state that ruled for centuries, which was eventually secularized by ultranationalists in Turkey — a group named The Young Turks — and kicked out of Arab provinces to be constrained to what is now known as modern Turkey. What did this entail? Arab provinces — led mainly by Sharif Hussein of Mecca — were left high and dry by Britain, which was the one to instigate the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Britain backstabbed the Sharif and negotiated a colonialistic agenda with France, known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916. Arabs were left to fight off British interventionism and political schisms amongst themselves, which further worsened the already dire situation, which hasn’t seen any change to this day. Where’s the problem? In all cases where a change of any kind — social, political, or economic — is needed, it is important to first identify the problem. Analysts and commentators may attribute the ruinous and woeful state of the region to social idiosyncrasies; the complexities and interrelations of social norms and religious beliefs, which are stringent and ever so variant in a climate like the Middle East. But the true problem is far more complex. The Middle East doesn’t just face social problems — that is, issues regarding the belief system, the traditions, and the expansive schisms in lifestyle. Rich countries rule the states in the Middle East. When anyone says “rich countries,” they mostly refer to the gulf states. Most prominently, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which stand on the extreme secular side of geopolitics, and have been ever so fearful of the contagious phenomena of the Arab Spring, which tried to overthrew dictatorships and liberate nations. In the Middle East, the two most important players are these two. Saudi Arabia has been known, especially recently, to have anti-Islamic viewpoints. Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, which is also King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz’s son, has revolutionized the kingdom with modern, Western endorsement, putting hundreds of Muslim scholars behind bars for no reason other than that of slight opposition or ultrareligious views. Scores of academics, economists, writers and human rights activists have been arrested in recent years in an apparent bid to stamp out dissent and opposition to Prince Mohammed, who has consolidated power with a purported anti-corruption crackdown. (Al-Jazeera) Saudi Arabia and the UAE are known to have prevented national and social revolutions in neighboring countries, fearful of the emergence of an Islamic-oriented coalition with their archrival, Qatar, and the Turkish regime. It is a known fact that Egypt’s Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi operates as a proxy dictator for the interests of the Gulf States. He is dependent on Saudi and Emirati monetary funds to maintain a seemingly lively economy, which has been in acute decline ever since he became president. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are known to back dictatorship regimes in the Middle East and stand against the oppressed nations. These can be exemplified in their US-backed military coalition in Yemen, as well as in Egypt, Palestine, and North Africa. Looking for similarities instead of differences. Political parties that work on utilizing agendas and ratifying theories in their national states tend to overlook the importance of unity between dissimilar minds and viewpoints. With a unified agenda against dictatorship and oppression and a united front against authoritarianism, nationalist parties can work more effectively if other unimportant elements and differences were put aside. It is always possible to discuss and agree upon the parity of esteem after the communal goal has been achieved, but as long as dictatorship remains, the status quo can only worsen. Western influence is still lingering. US Interventionism still plays an important role in funding terrorism in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is, in fact, a terrorist regime, and the US weapon deals with Saudi Arabia only help the USA with money, and Saudi Arabia with spheres of influence. Regardless of whose name the Oval Office holds on the plaque on the desk, the US government will hardly change its foreign policy agenda regarding the Middle East. And that prolongs dictatorships and prevents true liberation. Political freedom is nonexistent. In states that pretend to be democratic and in states that are fine with being authoritarian, political freedom is nowhere to be seen. The problem with the mindset in the Middle East is that it is realist in nature. Political parties who rise to power believe that it should be a lifetime contract, and so work on eradicating any opposing party or individual. They also highly depend on media censorship, unlawful arrests, or silent assassinations. Is Iran really the biggest threat? It’s been a long time since Iran’s firepower and nuclear capability have been exaggerated to Middle Eastern states, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Iran is one of the most — if not the most — prominent terrorist regimes in the Middle East. The United States has long warned of Iranian terrorist outbursts and thus outpoured money to fund initiatives in the region to fight it off, mainly with Israel being the obvious target. After the Emirati accord with Israel and the normalization of Arab-Israeli relations, it is no surprise that the Saudi regime follows suit, hiding behind the threat of Iran. But is Iran the only threat in the Middle East? Thanks for reading this analysis. This was originally published on Medium.

How to Move from Ideation to Creation

Not translating ideas into action is the reason why we're stuck as a society. We all see the problems around us. Murder, deceit, and an appalling downturn in morality and basic human decency. We don't lack any theoretical input, nor do we lack creative minds to come up with creative solutions to national problems such as the rise in crime and homicide. What we lack, sadly, is the actual utilization and implementation of these ideas, and the ability—or the drive—to translate these ideas into action. Real, tangible action whose results we can see day in and day out. So how can we move from ideation to creation? Societies don't like change. Once a (new) norm sets in, year after year, society gets used to it. Embraces it, making it part of a legacy. Purporting new change can become a hassle—of course when said change is improving society. Take any problem with society. Homicide? Rape? Sexual harassment? The stupid governments ruling the intellects? Homelessness? Immigration? Political hegemony in the West controlling developing countries with puppet regimes? Wars? Netflix normalizing pedophilia? The general societal oblivion? I could go on and on. Take any problem you see that pertains to the societal norms—whether locally, regionally, or internationally—and propose a solution. In certain cases, it's a difficult mission to come up with ideas. But mostly, it's child's play. End homicide? Stop gun-trading, amend laws, increase policing. End sexual harassment? Stop the sexualization of women. Shun, outcast, and banish instigators. Amend laws. For every problem, there is a solution Yes, for the most part, that solution is theoretical at best. Why? Because you can't change the people around you. When you grow up in a society that not only doesn't prevent a certain appalling norm but even endorses it, there's little you can do about it. "Start slow," they'll tell you, "start with your family." But even that will take lightyears to accomplish. Not only that. When you're one fighter trying to rid society of a shitty norm against a hundred others trying to promote it, your chances drop to zero. Changing society is a war. Yes, that's what it essentially is. If you take on the mission of changing people around you—changing how they think, how they behave, what values they uphold, what the source of their morals is, and how they conduct themselves—you need to be prepared for the journey. Just like you don't go to battle without a weapon and a shield, you don't go to change society without a vision, a plan, and the drive. These are the only three things you need. A vision so that you know what the outcome will be. What you want society to look like in the process and after the change. A plan is your weapon. It is comprised of all the practical steps that you need to utilize in order to change society. They have to be very practical and on-point. Stating "change society" as your Step One isn't very practical. Instead, try "talk about [insert issue]." That's a good first step; now follow it with a hundred more. The drive is what ensures the continuity of your plan. It's as simple as not giving a f*ck about what people say, but also fighting back. You need to have perseverance and determination to be able to continue delivering your message and applying the change. These elements are vital in the process of changing society. A vision is an easy thing to come up with; it's merely ideas that we get overnight. A theoretical roadmap to reach new heights. We're good at coming up with ideas, but not so much as implementing those ideas. Here's why, in my opinion. 1) A flawed perception of societal norms What is a "societal norm"? Put simply, it constitutes the behaviors, actions, and worldview of people in a society. Something that is widely known to be done subconsciously, without any preliminary thinking. A good example is when you shake hands with someone who you just met. It's a tradition—a custom that everyone does, to the point that if you don't follow this behavior, you're considered weird or atypical. When society gets used—either some ages ago or recently—to a new norm, it allows it to infiltrate every household and disseminate its preceding tradition. Sometimes, this new norm is fantastic; a new norm that people like you have been encouraging and promoting. But most of the time (at least in the past few decades) it's a bad norm that sets in. So how can we distinguish the good from the bad? One might claim this question is inane and laughable. What do you mean to distinguish? Smoking in public is bad. Sexual harassment is bad. That's easy to tell. But what about education? Modernism in education? What about the public school system? What about children's addiction to technology? Robberies? Adultery? Abortion? Most of the time, a societal norm isn't simply right or wrong. Societal norms are based on subjective opinions, especially norms that are novel—that are rebellious and challenging. When we do this separation, we allow ourselves to conduct dialogue on what is and what is not perceived as a societal norm. This specifically pertains to social cases more than moral, religious, or identity-related cases. People have differing worldviews on religion, morality, and all forms of identity. People are polarized on education, on government systems, on war, on technology... For some people, this is a case of right and wrong, and that is fine (it is for me). However, topics like sexual harassment, sexual assault, homicide, pedophilia, etc. are cases of pure right and wrong. When you embark on the journey of changing society, you have to categorize topics and norms into what is and what isn't something you should change. You don't go around telling people not to drive cars, because that's primitive and stupid. You don't go around telling people not to use their phones at all. You have to be reasonable. Prioritize what social norms are even subject to change. What isn't even a social norm... What are your views on the topic at hand... According to whom is this "norm" harmful to society? This way, a social warrior has a clear vision of what should be changed. But people wanting to change society encompass lots of different topics that are different in their very essence. If you want to advocate against real problems in society, (homicide, sexual assault, etc.) you have to focus on these issues and know what they mean, who stands behind them, and consequently prove their fundamental flaws. Most of the time, a societal norm isn't simply right or wrong. Enthusiastic social warriors try to take on every new norm as if it's an invasion. New norms aren't always bad—in fact, most of the time, they're great. New norms that are intrusive, unconventional (in doctrine), and repulsive to a whole society are bad. Our approach to social norms should not be according to their seniority. There are many social norms that are disgusting and appalling, appropriated decades ago (for some reason). On the other hand, a lot of new norms are actually good—they benefit society and prompt prosperity. We should approach norms by what they provide. 2) Technical obstacles The thing about most of our social problems is that they pertain to the state. Think about it. Ending homelessness shouldn't be our problem per se. Sure, we have an obligation, but we aren't capable of finding real solutions to this problem. We, as individuals or as a society, cannot end homicide or robbery with real action. We cannot end hate crimes or racist incidents. Problems like these are within the jurisdiction of the state. The government. When you're a sole fighter trying to amass voices and amplify a trend against a certain topic that is not within our jurisdiction as civilians, it's hard to move from ideation to tangible implementation. These are technical problems that are both easy and difficult to overcome. On the one hand, the government is an entity whose very purpose of serving us, the people. If the government isn't preventing a harmful norm (racism, discrimination, homicide, rape), then what's it for then? There is a reason why governments do not last. A four-year term is a true test to its capabilities, to its agendas. When the norm is endorsed by the state against the will of the people, that's an easy fix—vote them out. However, technical obstacles are only a speck of the problem when the norm is deeply entrenched in the society itself (so much so that the people don't even want it changed), then there's work to do. While we can't do much (alone) to influence the government, what we can do instead is to educate, inform, and prepare society for a better future, so that we make the only obstacle between us and a better society is the government alone. 3) Misunderstood Implementation People often misunderstand and misuse the methods and strategies with which they are to implement these ideas to change society. While it's true that changing society is a war—a full-fledged war—ideas can be translated into action in numerous ways, not just one. Writing is one of them. Educating people around you is the most effective way you can make an impact. Tweeting about a topic can be considered implementation. Creating YouTube videos, writing books, talking on podcasts, or conducting interviews are all methods that can bring forth the desired change. Just by informing people on topics that matter, you prompt more ideas to surface, more voices to echo, and, consequently, enabling the translation of these ideas into action. Fighting to change society shouldn't be actively aggressive. Nor should it be destructive. Small steps are fine, so long as they are consistent and passionate. Change does not happen overnight, and for us to see real change in the social landscape, we have to work harder. But most importantly, more people should join the war.

To Catch a Dictator

To identify a dictatorship, take a look at Egypt. How easy is it to catch a dictator? It's probably impossible. But to identify one is child's play. All you have to do is look. If that's too cumbersome, you can also listen. That works too. Dictatorship is often ascribed to one person: the head of state, the king, the president. But if we look at the whole picture, at the institutions and the system as a whole, it becomes apparent that dictatorship is not a person. Hell, dictatorship is not even a government. Dictatorship is an idea. An idea that is not only put forward by the government or the “deep state” or the so-called independent institutions. Dictatorship is an idea in society itself. When society is built, generation after generation, on the basis of the superiority of a group or an individual, dictatorship sets in. When children are taught in school that some man is far more superior, that his needs are far more important, that his insights are truer, that's when dictatorship becomes an idea. But what happens when this dictatorship becomes part of the day-to-day? It takes over every form of life and freedom. It becomes the norm that cannot be changed. How to Identify a Dictator Let's take Egypt, which is probably the best example there is to give about dictatorship, democracy, and endless political conflict. Overthrown by al-Sisi, Egypt's first rightfully president-elect Muhammad Morsi was undermined, jailed, and oppressed. But most importantly, the idea that Morsi stood behind was tainted. With new leadership, Egypt has taken a serious approach toward the Muslim Brotherhood. All MB politicians, leaders, revolution icons, and supporters were imprisoned. The state-affiliated media issued full-fledged attacks on the group, with or without justification. They accused them of treason, of incompetence, of conspiring with foreign powers, of being funded and supported by Qatar. Some people agreed. It made sense that they would receive some kind of support from foreign powers. Would that make Egypt a puppet regime? To Qatar? It amazes me, almost every time that I hear it when Egyptian media accuses the anti-government people—whether national or foreign—of being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Abdulfattah al-Sisi's trial period had begun as soon as he had set foot into the office. The Egyptian people, who had been—and now sadly are—eager to get rid of the tight grip of the army rule had been forcibly pushed into a new authoritarian rule, this time by al-Sisi. The man who was never a "politician." He was a military man who knew nothing but violence and authoritarianism—discipline by force. And now he is conducting the same methods on his people; civilians who just want to live life like human beings. In Egypt's case, it is evident that al-Sisi was to become a dictator. When amendments to the Constitution were proposed, that was the biggest red flag in history. It means al-Sisi could stay in power until 2030! In the "election" of 2018, he won 97.08% of the votes. If that's not a dictatorship, I don't know what is. Regardless, al-Sisi's "reforms" and the utter dismantlement of the Muslim Brotherhood were supposed to make Egypt rise. Al-Sisi had promised economic recovery numerous times, over and over again, to crippling businesses and starving citizens who did not even sign up for his takeover. To force yourself upon other people and declare yourself Head of State is a bold move. Numerous people have done it in history—it isn't unprecedented. It is, I must say, an insolent step toward authoritarianism; toward a stringent rule under which the state will face dire economic distress, a repressive judicial and parliamentary system, and—most importantly—robocops who cannot wait to apply the rule. Authoritarianism breeds everlasting problems. HERE TO STAY: If you were given 100% of a company's shares, whose economic potential and strategic role are ever so mighty, and suddenly became the sole shareholder, would you give it up? The answer is no. Hell no. That's the case with every authoritarian—even before they become one. This has been evidently the case with Donald Trump since the second quarter of 2020, with the election closing in, and an inevitable loss is at wait for the sack of oranges. This has been the case with al-Sisi since his very first power move in the coup d'état against Muhammad Morsi. People like Trump do not want to leave the White House. Not arbitrarily did Trump describe al-Sisi as his favorite dictator. It's true—he aspires to be "that much" in control. To be able to call shots (albeit debatable) and control a nation of 98 million people like herds. For weeks, Trump has been frequently and determinedly attacking mail-in ballots and the Postal Office in an attempt to misconstrue the inefficacy of mail-in voting. After being asked if he would accept the results of the election if he lost, his answer was we'll see. Exactly. But Trump is an idiot. I like judging people by their Tweets, and Trump doesn't disappoint to portray anything less than an ignorant duck with no sensical philosophy. A leader shouldn't rant 24/7 on Twitter, and that's what Trump is doing since he took office. Egypt isn't the same as the United States. There are unamendable laws. Trump can barely do anything about it, and the American public is politically aware and awake—generally speaking. However, Egypt (and other Arab states) are dictatorship hellholes. Sadly, dictators in the Middle East have devised an efficient way to tackle social revolutions since the early 2010s, with the Arab Spring spreading like an infectious virus among nations of oppressed, held-back, and economically depressant nations of hundreds of millions. With unabashed and unnecessary force—security institutions arresting and killing people with bald faces; people who are part of their communities, their friends, their neighbors, their family members... With the worst prison systems in the world, the most incompetent, biased, and unfair judicial branch advocating pro-government in cases of national security, treason, and ideology. Muslim Brotherhood members were presented to the court of law but were never given a fair trial. It doesn't matter if you agree with the approach, the ideology, or simply hate the opposing political group. Nothing can justify taking out your political opponents uncontrollably. That's how Egypt moved rather quickly from democracy to authoritarianism, with the endorsement of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, who have been determined to tackle the attempts of coups, revolutions, and any other sort of uprising against their respective governments. For the UAE, it's as simple as cutting ties with states with high coronavirus infections. That's how uprisings are viewed as—a dangerous virus that they do not want anywhere near them. Astonishingly, the UAE was just formed in 1971, and the Emirati dictatorship—Netanyahu wrongly called it a democracy—is one of the most stringent in the world. This might explain the increase of prisoners of conscience in Emirati prisons and respectively the unanimous consensus on the normalization of Arab-Israeli relations. People in dictatorships live in fear. That's the most basic signs of all—when you advocate, endorse, and defend a "leader" whose sole purpose is to rid you of the essence of life, manipulated by the hegemonic regimes of the West, it's a sign that you're pathetic. I can understand why people living under a dictatorship cannot call against the government, and that's because they will simply be imprisoned, tortured, and possibly eliminated. It's what's Saudi Arabia did with Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, what Egypt has done to Morsi, and is doing to other Muslim Brotherhood members. Dissidents are met with dire consequences, and that is not a venture anyone is ready to take. They cannot risk their lives by calling against the continuity of dictatorship. And once that's set in as a societal norm—meaning that members of society adapt to this rule—dictatorship sets in indefinitely. In an article (2014) about social revolutions, Gizachew Tiruneh argues: The fact that not all autocratic and authoritarian regimes have faced revolution suggests that it is not regime type per se that would lead to the onset of revolution. Autocratic or authoritarian states that are quite ineffective may have a higher chance of facing revolutions. 🔗 What this tells us is that effective authoritarian regimes with an efficient police system and a tightknit national security strategy can overcome revolutions. The UAE and Saudi Arabia can easily hinder social revolutions because of encompassing effective policing, which probably pertains to economic abundance. States like Russia and China are not afraid of social revolutions—they're simply farfetched. But states like Egypt are a ripe setting for social revolutions. Political schisms, religious disparities, and ideological disagreements, combined with a feeble and decrepit security system that is dependent on external support, all lead to an uprising when sh*t hits the fan. INTERSECTIONAL DICTATORSHIP If dictatorship is an idea, then it can be applied in every governmental institution, regardless of how much influence the government (theoretically) has on it, and regardless of the institution's political alignment. In Egypt, for example, the judiciary institution is pro-government. Former President Mubarak was tried but acquitted by the court, dismissing charges of conspiracy to kill demonstrators, fraud, and abuse of influence. Judge Mahmoud el-Rashidy said he dropped charges against Mubarak because Cairo Criminal Court didn't have the jurisdiction to try him for the protesters' deaths.🔗 But if we look at Muhammad Morsi's—and other MB members— trials, it becomes evident that the Egyptian court system is corrupt. Morsi was indicted with similar charges to those of Mubarak, but the outcome was very different. Here's a brief review and comparison: This is why I argue that dictatorship is an idea. It's not just al-Sisi, it's the whole system, starting from external influence to the deep-state, to the string-puppet Head of State, to the institutional branches of the government, and finally, to the powerless people.

Biden's New Approach to Turkey: Topple Erdoğan

The United States is still obsessed with interventionism. An Arabic version is available here. Joe Biden sat down in a meeting room, in an interview with the New York Times, and said with a straight face that the United States is in a new position regarding the Turkish-Kurdish relations, and a new approach to the Turkish government has to be established. Biden, who served for 8 full years in the Obama administration, may have been caught in a web of delusion that had convinced him of the United States' Godsent right to resolve disputes in the world. He does believe that the US has the full right to interfere in other countries' problems and disputes—arbitrarily at times—with no consequences. Stating his opinion on Erdoğan, Biden referred to the obligation to "take the Turkish president down," albeit in a democratic way—through elections. He talked about bolstering the Kurdish minority to help them topple Erdoğan and influence the parliament. In addition, he said that the Turkish president has to "pay a price." Despite the details of the dispute between the Kurds and Turkey, and despite Erdoğan's involvement in either resolving or fueling it, Biden's statement comes off as shitty. Three months until the election against Donald Trump, the footage in which Biden divulges these statements (which reportedly were not supposed to go public) reveals the American indifference and insolence and exposes the hideous double-standards of White House politicians. Biden wants equality and justice for Kurds. I get that. I do want that too. But why go after Turkey with the issue of the Kurds? If Biden lacks a list (I'm sure he doesn't) of minorities that are being oppressed, tortured, and even killed, I can gladly provide one for him. Sure, he did comment on China's atrocities against the Uyghurs, but I'm not sure he ever threatened to take down Jinping, the Chinese president. If you're still unaware, an ethnic genocide is afoot in China. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad has done everything that is to be done by a bloodthirsty, amoral, and inhuman dictator. In Iraq, it was the United States who had killed women and children in the name of eradicating terrorism. In Yemen, a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is killing families and destroying the country. So why does Biden focus on Turkey? The question is whether he's even able to interfere in other countries' internal affairs? Biden—and the White House, now, then, and still—see Turkey as an archrival. Turkey, an up-and-comer in the international political landscape, and whose economy has rendered it mighty, independent, and forceful, is perceived as danger. Erdoğan is seen as a powerful leader without a care in the world about the hegemonic powers of the world. America wants to control the world; the US government wants puppet regimes to control, manipulate, and subject to its own interests. A similar case could be Egypt, where now Abdulfattah al-Sisi operates as a crumbling, pathetic president anxious to satisfy his paymasters in Washington. Truly, Trump's remarks on al-Sisi as his favorite dictator proved him to be "working." Also read — Erdoğan: An Axiom of Islamic Leadership or Just a Muslim? The United States considers herself a global hegemon in the political landscape, especially when it comes to the Near and Middle East. Turkey is a rising power, with economic and geopolitical potential that can rattle the Washington administration with its political alignments. And so, America will not allow a regime with a strongly opposing ideology to even exist, especially if it was Muslim. Turkey will not allow US interventionism to disparage its rightfully elected president, who has established that Turkey is an independent state with powerful leadership. And let's take a moment to remind the US government of all the atrocities which it has done in the world since the United States was founded. Hell, since the beginning of the 21st century—that's plenty. So Biden, please don't lecture governments about morality and civil society. Subscribe to The Newsletter for more articles.

Does a College Degree Matter?

Why you should go to college, but not stop there. No one can say—for certain—that by not attending college you will become (more) successful, and no one is saying—for certain—that going to college will make you a megastar in your industry. College is somewhat essential to today's life. Certain jobs demand that you have a degree of some sort from an educational institute; this is what qualifies you to work certain jobs. Going to college reinforces the subconscious idea of a person that they are smart, intelligent, and sophisticated. These traits are what companies want in their candidates because it affects how the company works and establishes a "norm." These traits, however, are not necessarily found in people who attend college, no matter the subject. Individuals are not framed similarly because one template does not fit all. Assessing people is a subjective matter. While more companies have started hiring people without degree requirements, it is the majority on the showground that dictates the norm: having a college degree is essential to obtain a job in any industry. However, as the world progresses into adopting a more liberal, lenient approach, companies will start hiring people without degrees. Apple CEO Tim Cook believes that "a college degree is not necessary" to be successful, and behind him stands a crowd of "big" companies that are doing the same thing. Going to college is not like going to high school. In high school, you learn "the essentials" that help you progress into a designated subject afterward in college. In college, however, you learn certain subjects that help you focus on a career. But what if college doesn't give you the needed skillset to do your best work? According to Cook, the skills that are coming out of colleges and the skills that we believe we need in the future are different. Among those skills, said Cook, is coding. Let's not forget the fact that college tuition is infeasible. It's easier for young people—who have neither the time nor the money—to look for jobs that require less than a college education. Does that make these candidates any less intelligent, or is the company any less respected? About half of [Apple's] U.S. employment [in 2018] was people who did not have a four-year degree. With the shift to a more flexible approach to employment, young people are finding it easier to get hired at big companies like Google, IBM, and Apple. With a college degree, they would probably be rejected. This shift changes how small companies operate within the bounds of preliminary education. A Big Waste of Time Four years or more in college will land you a "respected" degree which is supposed to give you access to high-paying jobs in the industry. If you take the time after high school to learn coding, for example, and apply for a job at Apple, wouldn't it be a better use of your time? Why waste four years in college when you can skip the whole misery and still get hired in a wide selection of big-name companies? Besides, when you finish college, you don't often get the needed skill set for a job. This is why education in most colleges, in most countries, is theoretical education and not vocational education. While it is true that for certain subjects, education cannot be anything other than vocational. They are learning the basics of the "job" after all. But for those studying primarily in the Humanities field, it's quite unrealistic to teach theories when the main goal of attending college is obtaining a job afterward. Very few people attend college to immerse themselves in academia. The majority of those who attend college do so to impress employers and add credentials to their resumes. College is not for learning; it's for obtaining credentials to work in a designated work field. Most of the students who attend classes are "painfully bored." College is a waste of time and money. — Prof. Bryan Caplan for the Business Insider. If the end goal of college students is to obtain a job that provides for them, then why don't they learn the essentials for the job, instead of learning subjects that will not help them in their careers? People who want to become programmers do not need college—that is if their sole purpose of going to college is obtaining a relevant job in the industry. But here emerges a second problem. Some people argue that, while college does not necessarily mean you will become successful in life, it still provides a lifeline. You can go to college and grab a degree with the blink of an eye, and you can try out different things afterward. You can work as an entrepreneur or a freelancer in graphic design, or you can establish a startup in anything you can think of. College can still give you a way out from that if you deem it unsuccessful. You can always step back and apply for a 9-5 job using your degree. So much potential and talent are wasted in school and ordinary 9–5 jobs. It is important to say, however, that for other people, it’s merely the maximum they can achieve in life. Intelligence and the ability to have this view of life varies among people. In addition, some people—and I’ve met them—simply have no dreams. They want to graduate and get a job to start making money and settle in the life they’ve pictured inside their heads, which is basically the life their parents had before them. It also varies between societies and cultures. Some people are just raised to believe that taking risks will ruin their life. Once your project or “dream” fails, you’re irredeemable and you’re forever a failure. This is what parents teach their children and the school system perpetuates that idea. It’s easier to follow the norm because it’s what everyone does. It makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong when you deviate from it. Whether it's a good decision to go to college is determined only by you. Let nobody tell you what you should do. Colleges are tools that enable you to explore new things in life, but they should never be the only tools as predetermined by society. If you want to work a 9-5 job that requires no degree, then go for it—that does not mean you're a failure. The very fact that you've chosen not to follow societal norms is in itself a success. The Multi-Talented When I see people acquire a college degree and then remain enclosed where they can work with expertise, it upsets me. They become a teacher and that's it: they're teaching for the rest of their adult life until they retire. Their life becomes tedious, routinely, monotonous. While for some people, all they need to do is sustain their family or pay their bills, it is always possible to keep learning and progressing beyond the boundaries of your major. Reading books is a major skill builder. Self-help books, DIY books, analytical and critical non-fiction books, and even novels can up your game. The benefits of reading are unparalleled. Online learning can also prove to be beneficial, both in your own industry and other side jobs. Online courses are everywhere; from Masterclass, Udemy, Udacity by Google, Coursera, to smaller amateur sites like Skillshare. Learning new skills and developing your talents is a key element to success. This can also help you find a side-hustle job—some that can even bring passive income. Learning new languages is another way you can expand your skills and talents. Duolingo offers free courses in a vast variety of languages. Albeit a lengthy journey, it will prove to be beneficial in the long run. Click here to start learning on Duolingo (referral link). You can be two things at one time. You can be a lawyer and a programmer. You can be a science teacher and graphic designer. You can be a doctor and a writer. These skills not only give you the (true) feelings of success but can also be profitable. Societal Prosperity: Doctors or Philosophers? Schools perpetuate the idea that natural sciences are a better choice than social and humanities' sciences. This is inadvertently done by attaching high grades to natural science subjects in high schools and universities and reserving the social sciences to low-achievers. While that is not the school's problem—since a high-achieving student has the ability to choose between natural and social—it does prompt a prejudiced assessment. Also read: Reconstructing Schools: The path to a better education system Parents and society condemn high-achievers for favoring social sciences. A high-achiever is stigmatized at first if they chose to major in social sciences instead of medicine, computer programming, or civil engineering. This widens the gap between the two fields. Finding a middle ground between exact sciences and social sciences is not difficult. But to do so, we have to stop categorizing social sciences as alternative options for those who could not make it to medical school. Thus, history becomes an underrated subject for lesser students, philosophy becomes a repulsive word attracting scoffs from "intellects," and political sciences become a big no-no, because "it promises no career." While we still do need doctors, lawyers, engineers, and nurses, we are also in dire need of social scientists, social workers, and social intellects. In 2020—a time where people die every day to street violence, families are torn apart in a continuous streak, and the change of societal norms takes place before our eyes—it is very much needed that the young generations are educated. “Our rapidly moving, information-based society badly needs people who know how to find facts rather than memorize them, and who know how to cope with change in creative ways. You don’t learn those things in school.” —Wendy Priesnitz Enjoyed this article? Read "5 Important Lessons I Learned from High School" next. NEW: Mortal Past is now available for preorder from Amazon! Get a digital copy for $2.99!

Why You Should Read Politics

Why you should start reading politics today, just like you read sports. In a world of exacerbating daily news and heart-wrenching updates from war-torn countries, and a plethora of corrupted, rigged, and stupid-as-f*ck governments and politicians, it's tough to want to keep up with the dreary politics around the world. Why would you want to read long political arguments when you can read lighthearted and fun fiction? Why would want to read about the war in Yemen when you can binge-watch videos on YouTube? Where's the fun in knowing what new idiocy Trump is committing in America's idiocracy? Well, apart from the fact that you'll get a few laughs and facepalms from the surreal news, politics can actually help you in many ways. Engaging with your community Here's a little factoid for you: you use politics in every aspect of your life that has to do with "dealing with people." The word politics comes from the Greek polis, which means "the affairs of the state." In ancient times, the affairs of the state meant how to deal with people, and setting principles of life and a code of conduct to organize affairs. Human life could not be more connected to politics than it is now in 2020; we are deeply connected, in every aspect of our lives, to politics—per today's definition of the word. We are part of a society that is governed by politics, affected by politics, and literally dependent on politics. Societal prosperity hinges on the efficiency of the political system in the state since the attainment of quality of life pertains to living within an achieving, progressive community. These attributes cannot be acquired without an equally efficient system of governance, which leads us to believe that a corrupted or incompetent political system results in poorer quality of life. And so when you live your life—go about your daily routine of work and sleep and entertainment—without having a basic knowledge of who is in charge of "policing" and governing you as an individual and if they are doing good, you lose your identity as a member of society. What politics really means is adjusting your life to man-made law. When this law affects how much you get paid, for example, you are ought to know who stands behind it, who corroborated it, and is it a good regulation? In any case, you need to know if you're able to change it, or if you're able to express your objection toward it. In order to understand the world around you, you need to have basic knowledge about what is controlling your life. Reading politics enables you to do so. A mere 5-minute skimming of local news will make you aware of what is afoot in the political sphere. Even if this just scratches the surface and doesn't give you the full details of how politics works, at least it gives you a basic understanding. You'll become more educated So many people live their lives without a care in the world. They don't know anything about political parties, geopolitical affiliations, or religious-political groups. They don't even really care about this. If there are elections, they vote to whom they have heard or know to be decent and fit. Unbeknownst to them, these political parties and affiliations can change a lot. People may align with political parties without knowing what they really represent, or what they are trying to change or do in their respective communities. Reading politics can help you make up your mind. Yes, in this case, formulating thoughts and judging these politicians can actually help you distinguish the good from the bad. You'll be able to decide more logically which party you should vote for, or if you should even vote in the first place. There is "lit" in "politics" Have you ever watched a Donald Trump interview? How about a speech from the leader of a local political party? Politics is such an amazing canvas filled with so many laugh-out-loud moments. Put simply, reading (or watching) politics is entertaining. The funny moments of dumb politicians who can't seem to grasp the fact that they are in charge of whole peoples are entertaining to watch. There are a lot of political satire shows out there who not only make unending fun of their national leaders but also narrate the political events in simpler, more understandable language. You'll learn from politics Whether it's the fancy, superfluous language that can help you impress your English teacher, or the DOs and DON'Ts of human interaction, you'll always learn something from reading and watching politics (or any other type of content). The famous YouTube channel Charisma on Command routinely reviews politicians and presidents (and other celebrities) on how they behave in certain situations and presents a takeaway in either human psychology or simple charisma tactics. Where to start? You can start reading local news on politics, either online or from your local newspapers. You can watch political satire. In English, I recommend John Oliver and Trevor Noah. In Arabic, try Joe Show or Al-Saleet Al-Ekhabri. Watch & read political informative sites. Try NowThis News, NBC, Vox, and other media channels. Follow Donald Trump on Twitter. It's a laugh-out-loud playground. Read books on politics. This post probably regards U.S. #politics more than others, but that's a personal preference. I find the American political foyer and the eternal feud between Democrats and Republicans to be both interesting and entertaining. Best #books on politics (in affiliation with Amazon):

On Hagia Sophia

A historical reading and response. After Erdogan's frivolous endeavor and the Turkish courts' ruling of reverting the status of Hagia Sophia as a mosque, several politicians, media outlets, and people from secular backgrounds called out the Turkish government for politicizing religion and manipulating at-loss Muslim sentiments for political gain. Greece “mourned” Hagia Sophia with church bells and half-mast flags, with various people bringing the objection to Twitter and the social media, claiming that Hagia Sophia has always been a church, and will remain to be a church no matter what Turkey does to it. Pope Francis said he is “pained” by the Turkish decision to revert Hagia Sophia, saying “and the sea carries me a little farther away in my thoughts: to Istanbul. I think of Hagia Sophia, and I am very saddened.” The Greek President, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, urged the Pope to put pressure on Turkey and condemned herself the “painful” act. This decision by Turkey undermines the foundations of tolerance and deepens the rift between cultures and religions. Hagia Sophia, formerly a church in the Byzantine era, was turned into a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror (محمّد الفاتِح) in the year 1453. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of a New Turkey led by Kamâl Atatürk, Hagia Sophia was then turned into a museum, holding both Islamic and Christian symbols for visitors to admire. On July 10, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the signing of a decree that dictated the reverting of Hagia Sophia to the status of a mosque. The backlash began, while many Muslims expressed joy and pride in witnessing the revival of an Islamic heritage site, faced with harsh criticism of such a show-off act. Translation: "Hagia Sophia ... Let the winds be blown in the dome. You are always ours, we are yours ..." Many Muslims from the Arab world (and surely Turkey) came to the defense of the decision, saying that Hagia Sophia has been a mosque since the 1400s; its status as a church is null and void since it was bought by Mehmet the Conqueror with his own personal money, and turned into a mosque afterward. But is this true, historically? Not necessarily. If you read the Hagia Sophia Wikipedia page in English, it is mentioned that "most of the elderly and the infirm/wounded and sick were killed, and the remainder (mainly teenage males and young boys) were chained up and sold into slavery.." However, if you read the Arabic version on Wikipedia, it says that he "assured them of the safety of their lives, their property, and their freedom, and asked them to return home." [My translation]. "أمَّنهم على حياتهم ومُمتلكاتهم وحُرِّيتهم، وطلب منهم العودة إلى بيوتهم." This polarity of historical factuality creates a challenge for those who are looking for the unbiased truth. What struck me first was the quick inaccurate response from Muslim people on the matter. No books cited and without sensible evidence, they claimed that Mehmet the Conqueror "bought" the church with his own money. So why not just skim the surface of relevant literature and find out? In his book, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror: the Conqueror of Constantinople, Muhammad Ali al-Sallabi notes: "And when they saw [Mehmet's] empathy and forgiveness, they went out and proclaimed their [conversion to] Islam, and [Mehmet] ordered that the church be turned into a mosque..." (page 111). [My translation]. In his book, Mehmet the Conqueror: Hero of Islamic Conquest in East Europe, Dr. Sayyid Ali basically confirms what al-Sallabi has noted. In addition, he refutes the claims of Western historians who try to distort facts with their sentiment, describing the fall of Constantinople in absurd language and inane logic. Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy (1812-1878) describes in his book, History of the Ottoman Turks, atrocious acts done by Mehmet the Conqueror. He notes, referencing the killing of Duke Notaras: "The bloody heads were brought to Mahomet, and placed by his order in a row before him on the banquet table. Many more executions of noble Christians followed on that day, to please the tyrant's savage mood. (page 86). Dr. Ali notes in response to such claims: "It is unimaginable [...] from a Sultan who orders his soldiers to fast before the battle." (page 36). [My translation]. Al-Sallabi also notes that historians such as Edward Shepherd Creasy, who "tried in his book History of the Ottoman Turks to [falisfy and] distort the image of the Ottoman conquer of Constantinople" (page 112). [My translation]. If you were to look at the lengthy history of Islamic conquests, you will find numerous sources that confirm the inanity of the western allegations. Some Muslim scholars admit that, while conquests were more brutal than others, this was the norm at that period of time. Compared to the crusades, Islamic conquests are nothing. It is interesting to read a bold claim such as Edward Shepherd Creasy's, which holds no truth to reality. As Dr. Ali notes, it is unimaginable and improbable that a devout Sultan such as Mehmet II conducts these grim acts of killing and massacres of innocent civilians. Some anti-Muslim historians argue that Islam is in itself a religion of hatred, war, and wicked massacre, but that is fundamentally wrong to say. Those who cannot read Arabic have access to English versions of the Quran. If you look anywhere in the Quran or the Sunnah, you will not find any verse or saying that dictates hatred, approves of innocent killing or promotes violence. “Fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits,” says the Muslim holy book, the Koran, “surely Allah (God) does not love those who exceed the limits.” (Quran, 2:190). In fact, such allegations are not only lies but also ludicrous to say. Had Creasy studied the Islamic faith, he would have known that wars in Islam have preset rules and regulations. In short, here's the prophet's will to his army: "ولا تَقْطَعَنَّ شَجَرَةٍ وَلا تَعْقِرَنَّ نَخْلًا ولا تَهْدِمُوا بَيْتًا" - which translates to: "Do not cut a tree, nor a palm, nor destroy a house." He also forbade the killing of women and children. In a famous decree, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, told his military commander: “Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for guidance on the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies; do not kill a woman, a child, or an aged man; do not cut down fruitful trees; do not destroy inhabited areas; do not slaughter any of the enemies’ sheep, cow or camel except for food; do not burn date palms, nor inundate them; do not embezzle (e.g. no misappropriation of booty or spoils of war) nor be guilty of cowardliness…You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone." (Source). To put this in context, we can now say that no, Mehmet II did not "buy" the church of Hagia Sophia. This is not mentioned (and even refuted) in history books. At that time, the code of conduct and the norm was that a conquered city falls within the jurisdiction of the Sultan; he has power over the conquered region, including its edifices and locale. A city peacefully conquered dictates that all buildings and local services are reserved as is, per the respected agreed-upon treaties. Constantinople was conquered militarily, and so Hagia Sophia fell within the jurisdiction of the Sultan. That being said, it is important to look at history, despite the factual detail differences. Al-Sallabi notes that the occupants of the church "converted to Islam." If we take that under consideration, the conversion of the church to a mosque would make sense. But let's dismiss that, seeing as certain people have a hard time believing this. It is reported that the Church of Hagia Sophia was the center of operations for the Byzantine Empire. It would only make sense for the conqueror to dissimilate the headquarters and nerve center, and establish his rule on it. Had it been anything but a church, it would have met the same fate. Another good reason for Greece not to react to this event is that Hagia Sophia is located in modern-day Istanbul. It is de facto a property of Turkey, not Greece. By reverting Hagia Sophia to its mosque status, Turkey is exercising its independent right to do what she wills with what falls within its borders. A Devilish Hypocrisy If we take a look at history, we can find evidence of mosques destroyed and mosques turned into churches, and (yes) even turned into bars, military inns, and stables. In Greece, the primary condemner of the Hagia Sophia reversion, the mosques were destroyed, turned into museums, cinemas, and, as noted below, military prisons. In Athens, where there is no official mosque open for worship, the oldest mosque, Fethiye Mosque, was used for many different purposes such as a military prison and warehouse after the end of the Ottoman administration in the city. Source. The Greek response to the Turkish decision uncovers the hypocrisy and double standards of the government and the church. While many mosques were destroyed to rubble, and many more turned into churches and other leisure service providers, Greece condemns the reversion of an edifice which has not been a church since 1453. This begs the question, would Greece have done or said anything had Kamâl Atatürk not turned Hagia Sophia into a museum? Mosques were modified not only in Greece. This occurred in Spain throughout the years, as well as in many other states where the Ottoman Empire ruled. The most recent occurrence was the Babri Masjid in India, which was demolished by Hindu extremists. In Palestine, Israel recently turned a 13th-century mosque into a nightclub, not even into a place of worship for a (different) faith. No one was heard condemning this act, nor even criticizing or a mere mention. Israel is still operating behind-the-curtains in Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, with continuous Jewish settlers' visits and a suppressive approach to East Jerusalemites and the Muslim Arab locale. The Middle East: A Divisive Hellhole While the majority of Muslims in the Middle East concurred and celebrated the Hagia Sophia reversion, many secular voices surfaced, prominently in the Egyptian and Saudi media, condemning Turkey. Egyptian newspeople (overstatement, really) interviewed loyalist religious figures in an attempt to avert people's delightfulness from the event, claiming that the prayers of those at Hagia Sophia will not be accepted by Allah because it is conducted on "usurped land." They claim that the Hagia Sophia reversion is mere political lust by Erdoğan and should not be seen as an Islamic accomplishment. The Egyptian media, sadly, is fully controlled and leashed by the government. And since the Egyptian-Turkish relations could not be any worse than they are now, Egyptian media issues full-fledged attacks against Turkey. This, in addition to the fact that Turkey is a friend of Qatar, and the late Egyptian (legitimate) President-elect, Muhammad Morsi. Unfortunately, they have forgotten that Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi is a ruthless dictator who has only worsened the already dire situation in Egypt after he overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood. Translation: "They say Erdoğan celebrated Hagia Sophia for political gain. I say look at what al-Sisi did to a mosque in Rabi'ah for political gain." The Egyptian media is not allowed to criticize their own government, who is failing to control the coronavirus pandemic, with a decrepit economy and a fallible healthcare system. Others condemned the symbolic sword-sermon in the first official prayer in Hagia Sophia on Friday, saying that this is barbaric and a symbol of terrorism and Islamic extremism. The head of religious affairs in Turkey, the same khatib (speaker) who ascended the stairs with a sword, explained that this is an ancient tradition. "Khutbahs (Friday sermons) have been delivered with a sword, without interruption, for 481 years. If Allah permits, we will resume this tradition from now on." Source. What is confusing is that many cultures have this tradition. The sword is clearly a symbol. The hypocrisy here is evident in that when the sword is gripped by a Muslim figure with a beard and an Islamic attire it is dangerous, "barbaric," and "extremist." After all, even if this symbol perpetuates the Islamic ambitions of Erdoğan, or marks the comeback of Ottoman-era Turkey, it is within their own right to do that. In the United States, Evangelist figures overtly support Donald Trump and hold his hand tightly. Is Evangelicalism dangerous? I would say definitely, based on this criterium. There is no question about whether Turkish affairs are Turkey's business alone. The United States can become a theocracy, theoretically speaking, or can even be considered one behind the scenes. The Evangelical agenda of President Trump is more than evident. A Harbinger of War As Greece ups the tension with Turkey following the Hagia Sophia reversion, it is foreseen that a war is on the verge of breakout, as Erdoğan is looking forward to voiding the Lausanne Treaty. The National Interest reports: War Between Greece and Turkey Is Now a Real Possibility "Greek and Turkish fighter jets engaged in mock dogfights this week over the Greek island of Kastellorizo, just a mile and a half from the Turkish coast, causing tourists to flee." - The National Interest.

Copyright © 2021 by Tarek Gara. All Rights Reserved.

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