At the invitation of Leaders for Democracy Arabic program 2015 organized by the Lebanese American University in Beirut, former Member of Parliament, Mosbah Al-Ahdab organized a political seminar on political Islam and its repercussion on Lebanon and the region.
The seminar was held at the Crown Plaza hotel in Hamra attended by the coordinator of the Leaders for Democracy program, Dr. Imad Salamey, the participating leaders in the program and a number of students at the Lebanese American University.
Mr. Mosbah addressed the emergence of the political Islam phenomenon in Lebanon and the region, giving a historical overview on the underlying social, cultural and political reasons which he considers strange to the region. In his views, injustice, oppression, inequality among citizens, poverty, ignorance and unemployment are real reasons for rising religious movements that rely upon confessional and sectarian mobilization and exploiting communities that are a fertile ground for extremism. Al-Ahdab talked about the city of Tripoli and it’s experience with political Islam. He considered that Tripoli was and remains a beacon for national cohesion, coexistence and moderation, however; the lack of growth and development coupled with economic and social strife drove some youth in the city to join such Islamic factions that possess money and organization.
Al-Ahdab was emphatic about the necessity for the civil secular movement to be organized and supported in Lebanon and the Arab world to create awareness and a culture and a society that rejects extremism and calls for justice and equality under the umbrella of the government that guarantees the welfare of all citizens regardless of their political, religious or racial affiliation. He added that striving to achieve these goals will not be easy rather difficult and will be in need of awareness, education and understanding that extremism cannot not rule the Arab people.
He discussed the double standard policy in relation to the situation in Syria and considered that anyone who fights on the side of the regime is considered a patriot and is embraced by the Lebanese Army, protected and safe from legal prosecution. On the other hand, those who journey to Syria to fight against the regime are subject to prosecution by the Army and the judiciary and are deemed terrorists. This double standard reinforces religious division and ignites resentment and hatred amongst the various confessions. He called for one national and fair policy under which all citizens are treated equally.
As for the situation in the Arab world, Al-Ahdab expressed that Shi’ite extremism that is backed by Iran was the cause behind Sunni extremism and he considers that the Syrian regime was first in supporting terrorist organizations. He also expressed doubt about the International Coalition that is fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) given that the war on ISIS is riddled with unanswered questions related to its ineffectiveness and intentions.
A lengthy discussion took place between Al-Ahdab and the coordinator of the LDF program Dr. Imad Salamey on one hand and the participants and students on the other; ideas and thoughts were exchanged about the dimensions, objectives and future of political Islam in Lebanon and the region.