Lebanon was an example of a successful state of sects, but now it is a mixture of sectarianism, tribalism and doctrinism that prevails throughout the Arab world, with some differences from one country to another. States have turned into divided communities that care only about the followers of one sect and their supporters, and hit, crush, fight and kill everyone who disagrees with them.
They also crush and oppress those who dare to demand change or reform. This is manifesting itself from the Levant, Syria, Iraq and Yemen to the Arab Maghreb and the rest of the Arab world.
States made up of institutions have perished, the civil society has totally absented itself, while national ideologies, which call for equality among people and urge them to transcend sectarian divides, have withered. National thinking helps people become free and equal citizens as far as rights and duties in modern states are concerned. These are things based on rule of law and institutions.
The religious, sectarian, doctrinal and tribal disputes we are seeing today in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolutions are not the sudden outcome of a coincidence. They are the result of the education and upbringing of successive generations – the outcome of an inherited and imposed system.
This system began with the formation of the foundations of these states, which are the result of foreign colonization. It was strengthened by agendas and artificial sectarianism in which the people had no interest but politicians and influential people at the top did, because these disputes helped them stay in power.
The Indian example of applying the principle of citizenship uniformly despite so much diversity in the country is worth studying, because we can learn much from it while avoiding the country’s mistakes and missteps.
India allows political, social and religious freedoms. In this it is different from Pakistan, with no bias against anyone. Religion is apparent in all fields of life. The state, however, keeps the same distance from everyone. It reserves the right to intervene if one community tries to dominate another.
In addition, India distributes its resources equally to all communities, even in funding the establishment of schools and places of worship. If any privilege is given to a religious sect, other sects receive the same.
For example, Indian thinker Rajeev Bhargava says Sikh policemen are exempt from the obligation to wear the police helmet so that they can wear their turban. At the same time, Jews are allowed to wear their own headgear and Muslim women are allowed to wear chadors.
Furthermore, each community follows its own civil law, whether in marriage, divorce, inheritance, property ownership or arbitration in civil disputes. The state does not interfere in these laws.
States of sects are responsible for the failure of every project that has tried to help the Arab world get out of its historical impasse.