Can Arab societies sustain their colourful social fabric after all this bloodshed, terror, civil war dispute?!
Modern history is full of examples on this, and none of it supports the premise of variety, which is authentic of our Arab World; no matter how hard the goodhearted folk try to sustain it.
Yesterday, following on the Egyptian and Arab response to the criminal attack in Tanta and Alexandria, one would think these events are so out of the ordinary that they have nothing to do with the situation inside of Egypt.
Before long, one is reminded of these recurrent misfortunes, which have been happening for more than four decades, as we turn away in discombobulating silence.
How can Arab societies recover? How can the Egyptians recover from all this? From these long, long years of agony?
Millions have been driven out of their homes in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, and Lebanon, minorities and majorities alike.
Societies across the Arab region are torn apart, between those stranded in the midst of rising peril, those in refuge, and the many dislocated within. The very communities we’ve known for decades have collapsed.
Syrian and Iraqi blood is running rivers as conflict there intensifies. How can the Sunnis, Shiites, and Alawites get along again after all this?
There are majorities driven out of their homelands, and minorities which have either perished, or permanently relocated!
Iraqi Christians are refusing to go back to the liberated neighbourhoods in Mosul. They now fear their closes neighbours. Syrians whom have been made to leave Homs cannot go back in fear of militias determined on “cleansing” the city of sectarian and ethnic variation.
In Yemen, the grinding war has made it impossible for the residents of Aden to accept the Houthis among them, no matter what!
In the years and decades leading up to these tragedies, the social fabric in many Arab countries was threaded to the power halls of these countries. The moment it disintegrated, these societies collapsed, and the countries were torn to shapeless shreds.
The hundreds of thousands who took refuge out there have no hope and no desire to go home. They are more ready to adapt to completely strange societies and cultures, to bear the challenges and troubles of it all, than they are willing to go back and reconsolidate with their lifelong neighbours.
Ask any Syrian or Iraqi refugee in Jordan what their dream is, and they will immediately say: to relocate to America, Europe, or Australia.
Thousands have died at sea on their way to Europe.
Ask minorities in the few remaining, relatively stable countries, what they want, and just as well, those too think of nothing but migrating to the west.
How many Egyptian Copts live in western states? How many Iraqis live so far away?
Most of the cities and towns, which have for decades sustained their social variety, have turned into an exclusively colourless society.
Mosul and Aleppo will never be the same. These Arab tremors have struck the heart of the demographic and political geography, making division a choice of the people, not colonialists. The southern Yemenis are not keeping their wish to separate a secret. Nor are the Kurds in Iraq and Syria. Even Libya is trying hard to not fall into division, and there a change it might fall hard.
Stable societies too are struggling, to protect their own social fabric from the fire, and their ability to stand the absence of an all-inclusive, pluralist national project is doubtful.
One day, the fires will spread to its fabrics, and whatever little popular notions of pluralism and values of citizenship which stand, will be lost to the fire.
Will our countries ever be the same? Gibberish. None of this can be undone.
This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.