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Arab unity will never happen.

Reader comment on item: Reflections a Year after Hosni Mubarak's Resignation
in response to reader comment: As my esteemed father used to say...

Submitted by Prashant (United States), Feb 12, 2012 at 13:42

Dear Dr Pipes:

Reader Sara argues that Arab unity is a threat to us. She also argues that it will never happen. That may very well be true. Certain ingredients necessary for unity are simply missing in that part of the world. I will cite a few of those:

1. Unity requires that people resolve their differences without violence and with peace. Even though Islam is advertised as a religion of peace, in practice, peace and non-violence is not used as a tool to resolve problems in Islam. For example, recently Salman Rushdie planned to address a literary festival in India over a video link, a 'blood bath' was threatened by Islamists and no one among Indian muslims opposed the idea of the blood bath in any significant way.

2. Unity requires people to behave with symmetry (golden rule). While it is difficult for people to always follow golden rule, the more often it is followed the better. And it should always be in our psyche. Certain principles of Islam are epitomes of unsymmetry. Islam is openly against identical treatment of sexes. It is openly against symmetric treatment of minorities. So for most of us determining what is good and what is bad is relatively easy (if it is unsymmetric it is bad; if it is symmetric it is good). It becomes a difficult problem for Muslims. For them the rule probably becomes that if it is good for Islam and Allah, it is good otherwise it is bad. The latter is a much more difficult question to answer.

3. Unity requires moderacy. For instance, the US constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. Most modern societies have adopted this principle in their legal system. The cost of cruel punishments for a society is higher than its rewards. Chopping the hands of a thief adds one maim person to the society. That cost is higher than its rewards. Sharia is far removed from the 'middle path' that so many of us value in the buddhist path.

4. Unity requres democracy and freedom of expression: When people know that they are free to think and express their opinions and their opinions count, they are willing to live with unity and peace. Freedom of thought and expression is severely missing in the Islamic societies.

So unity will come to Islamic nations if they increase their reliance on non-violence, symmetry, moderacy, and freedom. And if unity comes to them under these four principles they will not be a threat to anyone.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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