In the Arab world today, secularism, democracy and liberalism are the real minorities, writes Dr.Najib Awad, associate professor of Christian theology and the director of the International PhD Program at the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut.
In this article, originally published in Arabic in Lebanon’s Al-Mustaqbel daily, Awad makes the case for a new definition of minitory, “one that transcends religion, sect and ethnicity.” In Syria, he says, democrats, liberals and secularists are being “minoritized,” not due to religious affiliations or convictions, but because they are trying to develop a value system that differs from the prevalent norms.
Rooting his argument in French philosophy, Awad argues that “anyone who refused to shape their life and values according to the norms created and enforced by the Syrian regime was transformed into a ‘minority.’”
Translation courtesy of Syria Direct’s Gavi Barnhard.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, both Syrians and international observers have been discussing the future of its minorities. Specifically, there is a new discourse among non-Sunni Muslims in Syria, primarily among Christians and Alawites, in which these groups do not identify with the Syrian people, but rather as minorities.
Syrian Christians have begun to reduce themselves to mere minorities in need of protection from the inevitable persecution that is to result if the regime falls. Even social media in these Syrian Christian communities indicate the prevalence of this minority discourse. Western and Arab countries that support the revolution see the Christians and the Alawites in Syria as “minorities” and reduce this complicated issue into a simple matter of “protection.”
From my observation, it doesn’t seem that anyone can actually explain what they mean by “minorities” in the Syrian context. It seems to me that everyone is working with the assumption that there is a single, agreed-upon meaning, however, I’m not sure that they realize that the meaning varies depending on its political, sociological and philosophical connotations.
In sociology and anthropology, “minority” can be defined by ethnicity, race, gender, sex, or age. However, the term carries very different meanings in a philosophical context. In modern philosophy, French philosopher Gills Deleuze and French psychiatrist Felix Guattari suggest that the term ‘minority’ suggests a state of flux, a process of becoming or happening: something which people transform into, or become, due to specific social, intellectual and ethical factors that “minoritize” them.
FULL ARTICLE FROM SYRIA DIRECT