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They dared to think… and their blood was spilled
By Elias Farkouh
2017/09/09

In 1987 the two left wing Lebanese thinkers: Hussein Marwa and Mahdi Amel were assassinated in Beirut.

 

In 1982 the enlightened Egyptian thinker- Faraj Foda – was killed in Cairo.

 

In 1995 an assassination attempt failed to kill Nobel Literature prize winner, Najib Mahfouz, who was stabbed in the throat in Cairo.

 

In the same year and the same city, the Islamic thinker and professor Naser Hamed Abu Zeid was ordered to divorce his wife after being accused of apostasy. He had to escape to Holland where he lived until he passed away.

 

In 2005 the car of left wing Lebanese academic and journalist Sami Kassir was blown up leading to his death.

 

This is just a drop in the bucket of fatal crimes whose victims paid with their lives for the positions they took and their thinking in a way that was deviant from the accepted thinking in our Arab society.

 

The principle of free thinking has become a subject of condemnation and rejection reaching to the level of killing on the justification of being deviant from religion. This despite the saying calling for a renewal of thinking as the basis of a stable mind as reflected in a statement quoting the prophet saying: “for those who think freely (ijtihad) and are correct get twice those who think freely and miss.”

 

Blood is spilled under the pretext of preserving what is holy. And according to the most radical interpretations the aim of the spilling of the blood is to widen the contradiction between those who seek the things of their religion versus those who seek the things of the earth.

 

So in order to defend this order and its derivatives, those with opposing opinions and differing views are killed in broad daylight despite the fact that no one is able to touch the intellectual status and knowledge base of these victims or question their deep affiliation to their homeland and their sacrifices for their country’s progress.

 

Life, however, as well as what we have learned from our predecessors, has taught us that in its core and depth, there is no single real understanding of religion.

 

There are groups that have found in religion a chance to become ‘professional’ through practice which has made them reach the illusion that they are the “guardians” of religion and its followers. They have taken off from this illusion to follow anyone who differs from them in thinking, writing or saying and began a campaign of unrestricted accusations full of invalid allegations, followed by incitement that leads to killings whether this is done by their own hands or at the hands of their ill-informed followers.

 

Life and the experience from our predecessors has also taught us that the concept of a homeland has many dimensions. Reflecting on national issues and aspirations can be expressed in many ways and not just one. In its name and for its progress and in its defense, we see daily activities that we don’t see its actual product. Various groups compete for credit for these activities and in praise of officials responsible for it and for sponsoring it and participate in it launch.

 

We witness all these and read about them and notice the way “cheerleaders” fill the courtyards of our poor and hungry areas singing its praise.

 

So instead these activities are abandoning the concept of a homeland and are replacing it with a deformed entity that idolizes the individual in a process that smells in opportunism.

 

The effort to expose the concept of a nation is repeated every time that a crisis is developed forcing a change to the worse. Instead of a nation being people and places that are united despite their natural pluralism while united in their ultimate goals, they are now converted into groups, based on their origins or smaller clusters finally to a person who summarizes everything for all!

 

When we concentrate on these details our energies are depleted and we discover that we are running in circles the entire time. We run in circles around ourselves and we are no longer surprised when we get the news that another thinker who is adhering to his dignity is assassinated. Such thinkers who are embracing the importance of the mind who God has made in us as an active organ. These thinkers who uphold the need for humans to adhere to their depth and their existence.

 

I am forced to ask those who issue the fatwas (religious edicts) that declare what is banned, what is prohibited and what is apostasy and what is treason. What can they do towards those who say:

 

“I think; therefore I exist.”

 

*********************************************************************

The writer, Elias Farkouh, is a novelist who has won numerous awards in short stories and novels.

 

Read the Arabic original here

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