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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Muslims should be doing more?

A trend following recent terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists is people demanding “moderate Muslims” speak out against the violent acts and “do more” to prevent future attacks. The people making these demands are often members of the public voicing their opinion on social media, but celebrities and media personnel have also made similar remarks.

Although most simply demand “moderate Muslims” speak out against these acts or wonder why they don’t, some go so far as to hold all Muslims responsible for the acts of a few.

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