Dismantling the sectarian narrative

In recent years the media tend to portray conflicts in the Middle East along sectarian lines, Sunni vs Shia. Some examples:

  • Syria is explained by Sunni being sick of the ruling Alawi (which they portray as Shia)
  • Iraq as Sunni being fed up with the Shia government
  • The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran as religious conflict, Sunni vs Shia

When highlighting this apparent cause of conflict, the media often points to its origin, citing the early Muslims’ disagreement over Muhammad’s successor and the battle of Karbala. According to the narrative, the conflict started 1400 years ago and has been going ever since (it’s no wonder the Middle East is such a mess!). This portrayal is simplistic and ignores many other factors, including national/political, class, and neo- and post-colonialism.

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