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Ready whether the Middle East to abandon the concept of "religious minority"?

Grand Imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar University (Egypt) and the Maronite Patriarch (Lebanon) offer guided by the principle of citizenship.

The President of Lebanon, General Michel Aoun travels to the Vatican. According to the Vatican's news blog Il sismografo, Pope Francis will take the Lebanese leader on Thursday, March 16. President of Lebanon, General Aung was elected fairly recently, in October last year, after his support of said oriented toward Saudi Arabia Chairman of the Sunni party "Al-Mustaqbal" Saad Hariri, ensuring finally necessary votes of deputies of the Lebanese parliament, which is selected chapter countries.

Let us recall how the authorities are organized in this Middle Eastern state. The existing model was created in 1943 year in the process of obtaining independence from Lebanon from France. In order to ensure more or less equal access to the supreme authority for all religious confessions, the following order was developed: the president of the country should be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni, the Speaker of the Parliament Shiite, and the government should equally be represented by Christians and Muslims. In accordance with the confessional division in Lebanon, political parties also emerged, which for the most part are of a religious nature. Christian, Sunni, Shiite, Druze parties are not fighting each other, but for places within pre-determined confessional quotas.

At one time this model seemed optimal. In November 2014, the Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See in Beirut, Archbishop Gabriel Caccia offered it even as an option for the settlement of the conflict in Syria. According to him, Lebanon is "an example of multi-confessional coexistence that could help solve violent inter-confessional conflicts in the Middle East, there is no majority or minority, but each of the communities is part of the whole." All the other plans for a settlement, that in Syria, that in Iraq, operate with the concepts of a certain one dominant group and all the others. What is not in Beirut, in the first place. And, secondly, Lebanon, on the one hand, is "open to the West", on the other hand, it respects "traditional values". All this allows Lebanese society to remain in balance, not to be a "number democracy", but "a democracy of common solutions". However, over time it became clear that "the democracy of common solutions" does not always work. So, after the end of 25 May 2014 year mandate of the former head of state Michel Suleiman, Lebanese lawmakers could not agree on a political figure that would suit the parties of Muslims and Christians, and the schism was outlined among the Muslims themselves, some of which were oriented toward Shiism and Tehran, others on Sunnism and Riyadh.

Today even Lebanese Christians understand that the time of reforms is coming. The other day, the patriarch Beshar al-Rai, the primate of the Maronite Catholic Church, returned from Egypt. Monsignor took part in the conference "Freedom and Citizenship Between Diversity and Integration", which was held in Cairo from 28 February to 1 March under the aegis of Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah As-Sisi, and was organized by the famous Sunni University of Al-Azhar. Following the meeting, delegates from 50 countries, including the highest spiritual leaders of all Christian denominations in the Middle East, signed a Declaration on the coexistence between Christians and Muslims. As Radio Vaticana reports, among the central themes touched at the conference was the question of "dhimmi" - an Islamic concept that justifies the civil inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims on the basis of their religious differences. According to the Supreme Imam of Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyib University, today this concept is unscientific and anachronistic. "All citizens are equal, and Christians can not be regarded as a minority: this term is marked by negative connotations," the supreme imam said, stating that "the common will of the people is based on citizenship, equality and the rule of law, otherwise one can not talk about whatsoever nor was there any human progress. "

With these words, the Maronite patriarch also agrees. "The word" minority "should disappear from our vocabulary and it should be replaced by the concept of citizenship," said Beshar al-Rai, adding that he discussed this issue with President As-Sisi and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tavadros II. According to the Maronite Patriarch, he felt "during the meeting with the President of Egypt, that he is deeply aware - the very salvation of the Arab world and Arab culture, built by us together, Muslims and Christians, is worth this price." But having said "a", that is, the concept of "minority" should disappear, one should also say "b", that is, to abandon the system of the organization of power based on the distribution of posts among religious communities. This issue is becoming topical today in the Middle East, especially in the case of Iraq. In the run-up to the release of the captured IGIL (an organization whose activities are banned in the Russian Federation) in several provinces of the country among various political parties, regional governments, ethnic and religious communities, disputes over the future organization of Iraq are tightening. As a result, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Rafael Luis Saco, was forced to literally conjure his fellow believers not to surrender to temptations and not to split the country, yielding to the promises of a kind of Christian autonomy in the fields of the Nineveh plain.

Alternative deepening of sectarian divisions in the Middle East can be another project. In the summer of 2015, he was nominated by Ahmed al-Tayyib when he first visited Europe for participation in the conference "East and West. Dialogues on Culture ", organized in Florence by the Catholic Community of St. Egidius. On the eve of the visit, the supreme imam of the University of Al-Azhar called for the unification of Muslim countries following the example of the European Union in response to attempts by fundamentalists from IGIL (an organization banned in the Russian Federation) to create a "caliphate" in the Middle East. The same idea was supported by the Chaldean Catholic archbishop Erbil Bashar Warda in an interview with Radio Vaticana, noting that "this bold statement, I think we should follow the way of implementing this initiative." Of course, now, when wars are raging in the Middle East, and various forces are trying even harder to strike Shiites and Sunnis among themselves and to make strife even among Christians, the idea of ​​a "Muslim EU" looks fantastic. However, we can say that the EU itself became the "fruit" of the terrible World War II, after which Europeans for decades went to the idea of ​​creating an integration association that would make oil instead of cannons. At the same time, Middle Eastern religious figures would certainly like to avoid on this path the other extreme, characteristic of modern Europe, the domination of the aggressive form of laicism, pushing the Church out of public space and marginalizing it.

Rejection of the concept of "religious minority - the majority" and the transition to a position equal to "citizenship" is one of the first steps to create a new Middle East. At the church level support for this idea today identified the leaders of Muslims and Christians in Egypt and the Christians in Lebanon. Word of the president and political parties. Perhaps, during the meeting of General Aoun at the Vatican with Pope Francis it becomes clear what the position of the secular authorities in relation to the initiative launched in the Middle East part of the religious community.

A source: A REGNUM

Author: Stanislav Stremidlovsky

Tags: Lebanon, Middle East, Religion, Politics, Research, Iraq