The sectarian strife and democracy - EROL GÖKA

The sectarian strife and democracy

The human is quite prone to give up its "reasonable" character while acting as a social being, especially in a group. No matter how much we emphasize on unity and integrity, the dynamic that gives way to differentiation and variation is innate in the structure of the social life. As if a material were such as an "anti-group" added to our meal, it may poison us and thus ruin our unity. Believes, ideologies, world views cannot maintain their unity and integrity in their initial status. They begin to be disunited and become sectarianized one day.

When it comes to differentiation and variation, amen to all that! However, it is not where it stops. In many cases, it turns into a physical strife and violence. It is not only the ethnic or religious societies the interests of which are diametrically opposite but similar societies can also be quite cruel to each other while they are expected to benefit from each other.

Even so, the strife among similar ones can get worse. Talking about people who in appearance live in similar beliefs, ideological systems can use their minor differences for an excuse to stir savage among them. Once the magic glue that sticks us to each other dissolves, an unprecedented hostility sets in that no enemy would do to his rival. We see brothers turn the stones to brothers and friends to friends.

Don"t let the gentleness and tenderness of the civil world fool you. The last two modern global wars broke out because of the interest and power struggle in the west. Now they are talking big when it comes to freedom of belief only after the emergence of capitalism and democracy, and decades of great sectarian conflicts and slaughters.

The Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation were weakened at the time of Reformation process by the new religious perspectives. The struggle of the local feudal in liberating himself from the Church authority accompanied with Protestantism. Throughout the 16th century, Europe witnessed a constant warfare scene and the sectarian bloodshed never ceased. In August 24, 1572 in Paris, Catholics slaughtered thousands of Protestants. The streets of Paris and the river of Seine filled with dead bodies. In 1618, the sectarian war recurred in Europe. The famous Thirty Years" war broke out then. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was no longer able to hold a religious and political unity. The treaty of Westphalia only achieved the peace.

Many political unities occurred which laid the foundation of nation-states. The empowered Europe and developed democracy pushed aside the sectarian conflicts but this time economic and politically national competitions ravaged Europe.

The course of sectarian conflicts in the Muslims world is quite different from in the Christian West. After the decease of the Prophet Muhammad, his prophecies came true. Similar to the emergence of sectarianisms in Judaism and Christianity, Muslims split into "73 sects". The conflicts among them have never ended. The incidents of Karbala and Jamal as being great traumas left indelible memories to minds at their initial years. At the beginning, to these sects which split due to imamate, jurisprudential and belief denominations were incorporated. Because of sectarian fanaticism, even in societies adhering themselves to Sunni imams intra-sectarian conflicts occurred.

On the major side, the inter-sectarian conflicts in the Muslim world were restricted to a local scale but it did not take long to turn into a political identity matter. As the result of Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, the clarification of the Ottoman-Iranian border also provided the sectarian borders in general and after the battle of Ridaniya and Marj Dabik, the transition of the Caliphate into the Ottoman dynasty provided a partial peace and tranquility.

The possibility of a sectarian strife due to the incidents in Syria and Iraq is still a hot topic today. The intents of those who want to warm up the Alawite-Sunni fight are not concealed any longer. We really must contemplate how to remove this great plague on Muslims and look for the necessary means to do so. The state of Turkey should persist with an intermediary role of a big neutral brother to mediate among the conflicting Muslim groups in the world. Taking lessons from our ancestors with painful experiences, we must persist with their policy that never let the discord take place with Iran for centuries.

Instead of burying our head underneath the sand or ignoring the fact, we must look for the reasons of the sectarian conflict and have to learn and teach them. We realize that differentiation or variation does not arise from the religion within itself but rather stems from human as being a group-existent or the different dynamics and political desires in the social structure.

Whether we like it or not, the religious perception and forms of thoughts are varied. In that case, the primary agenda of the political system discussions must cover the co-existence of differences in a peaceful way. I always pay attention to the opinion and advice of Muslim intellectuals who truly show their concern about this problem but I believe that the solution in the world passes through democracy that provides freedom of beliefs and plurality.


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