ينشر "اليوم الثالث" مداخلة بالإنكليزية للدكتورة ميرنا داوود أدلت بها في محاضرة علمية في الولايات المتحدة عن التعددية الدينية في المشرق وتأثيها على التعايش السلمي
As we address issues concerning cultural pluralism in the Middle Eastern region, which supposedly represents determination and efficiency, we unfortunately discover that it is a primary source of conflict, which expands, as the concept of citizenship declines. This means integrating all members of society into one entity without any sectarian of religious exclusions.
The issue of religious pluralism has come to be viewed, not as a philosophical and elitist vision, but rather as an urgent humanitarian need and an indispensable societal requirement, especially in light of the conflict in doctrinal and ideological beliefs in our Middle Eastern societies. Such issue is being viewed while keeping in mind the development of religious extremism; its social and political influences in the Middle Eastern region, as well as the tremendous social and political mobility of modernization and globalization over the past decades. It eventually resulted in a collapse of geographical, religious and cultural specificity.
The absence of civic duty is not the only reason for the decline of national awareness, and the succession of religious movements in the vacuum that has been deserted. Neither it was because of the support of some of the super powers for the extremist movements. The main reason was the weakening of democracy, as well as the weakening of nationalistic political movements, with their methods of conduct that was based on personalism and self-interest, instead of an organized civil democracy.
National intellectuals and politicians complained only about the expansion of political Islam, without thinking about restoring the idea of a civil state. Therefore, such expansion entered the arena, as a sweeping wave of civil, social and cultural gains. This is because the wave of Takfir (condemning someone of being nonbeliever) was dominant. The power of political Islam was more organized than the national powers in some of the countries in our region. Therefore, it was able to control some of the ministries, the media and other vital facilities in these countries.
Several Western countries have allied themselves with these hardline fundamentalist groups as we have witnessed in Iraq and Syria. The pretext of the war on terror was not the reason for the awakening of civilian forces, but rather was the result of atrocities and crimes committed by these terrorist groups.
In Europe, the concept of religious pluralism has emerged, during the era of religious reform, as an attempt to establish a theoretical basis in the Christian doctrine of tolerance towards non-Christian religions. This is in addition to the tolerance of various Christian communities, which suffered lengthy and extensive sectarian conflict between the Catholics and the Orthodox, and between the Catholics and the Protestants. These conflicts resulted in more than five million deaths, in addition to the destruction of entire cities. Such wars did not end, until the Westphalia Peace Agreement was signed in 1648. The most prominent items of that agreement was the recognition of freedom of belief and worship.
In the Middle East, calls for religious pluralism have emerged from the enlightened elites and from several clerics who believed in tolerance and coexistence. Religious pluralism is an enlightenment theory, which indicates that all religions are equal in faith to God. There is no religion that is better than the other, and there is no chosen group by God, considered to be distinguished from the others. Everyone glorifies God in his own way and practices his faith in a way that is suitable to him. This includes the recognition of the principle that nobody has the power of denying the rights of others, and the principle of freedom and equality under the rule of law. These are the principles, on which the modern civil state is built. Therefore, any discussion about the regeneration of today’s religious discourse or the quest to build a civil state in our Middle Eastern region must be launched based on these principles. The question, which arises strongly today is the following: Where are we in this Middle Eastern region, regarding pluralism, in content and application?!