Sunday 20th of May 2018 |
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The road to a better future - By Amer Al Sabaileh, The Jordan Times



The importance of building a national identity in Jordan is more pressing as waves of sectarianism invade the region.
The 1979 revolution in Iran was the first to adopt the religious title of “Islamic revolution”, but we continue to see the progression of religious influence that began after World War II when modern political Islam began spreading its doctrine and influencing the people of the Middle East, predominately through the Muslim Brotherhood.
Following the Arab loss in Palestine in 1967, Islamist voices started criticising secularism, blaming it for the humiliating defeat. 
The Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in the education sector greatly affected Jordan, and the region at large. 
By the time Anwar Sadat took power in Egypt, the Islamicisation process had already started and was the major catalyst for changing the cultural identity in the region.
Following Sadat’s death, the Iraq-Iran war was promoted as an Arab-Persian war and saw the beginning of the fragmentation of ethnic, religious and sectarian divisions through the propaganda of hate and war.
The growing sectarianism in the region and the increasing conflict and violence should give us pause to consider the alternatives.
Continuous, and increasing, psychological division does not pose the risk of greater geographic division only, it condemns the region and its people to continuous conflict, even civil war.
In view of the current level of sectarianism, it is difficult to be optimistic about the future of the region.
The people of the region are living in chaos and daily bloodshed when they have the right to live their lives in peace.
However, nobody in the region can live in peace while the dominating mentality is based on exclusion and the constant desire to eliminate the other.
It is difficult to see how we can escape this vicious spiral without a serious national project to restore a national identity based on shared values.
The cultural change must be based on pillars that unify, rather than divide, so it cannot be based on religion or ethnicity.
It should be a progressive secular vision based on diversity and respect for all people.
This may be difficult to achieve, but we need to start somewhere, and soon, if we want our children and the next generations to have a better life.
To be successful, we need a long-term strategy with a clear and transparent vision based on shared outcomes.
It will take political determination, and persistent pushing and follow up. 
Above all, we need a realistic understanding of the risks that the region is facing given the dominant view of radical groups that do not recognise borders or national identities.
Our national identity should be based on values such as respect for a diverse humanity, which cannot be achieved without a systematic plan that unifies our citizens and re-establishes a new culture of shared national identity.

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