Liberalism is already struggling all around the world, and that’s why it’s important to fight for it especially in the Middle East.
The rise of the new anti-liberalism groups in the Middle East is alarming, and the new wave of giving those groups a platform and space within society and as countries taking easy, and what’s concerning me is that in the past these groups used to be more direct with what they believe in, for example in the past those conservatives and religious groups used to say that wearing a jeans ins forbidden and sinful thing to wear, that women who dress up like western women are sinful and they go after feminists like Nawal El saadawi and others like her. But now they are coming back with new tactics and lately I have noticed that the new campaigns has no direct attack and no direct message, for example “look away from every forbidden thing, keep your eyes shut from the sinful acts, and attacking movies not by the name but going after the actors or people behind the movie, or going to court and filling lawsuits against movies and to ban networks like Netflix and YouTube to shut-down those platform, according to them it’s hurting society manners and making sure to do it with a calm soft voice” there are campaigns everywhere in the middle east called “Restoring Society’s manners” banning artist for their lyrics or actors for their movies , using that banner in the front to fight liberals and depriving them from their basic rights to dream and to achieve their dreams.
This “Restoring society’s manners” campaign is dangerous because it’s happing in front of the government’s eye and authorities are even issuing permits for those campaigns or standing aside when women, feminists, or liberals are being attacked by those religious groups fearing them because they are half of society and to stand aside is better than getting into trouble for a small group in society that has no power and can’t shake the systems. To see campaigns in the streets up and high written on them “ immersing yourself in forbidden things will get you into depression and anxiety” and “ shedding your eyes from seeing forbidden things for it keep other’s eye’s away from your own( Maharim) in Arabic means your sisters, mothers , aunties and grandmothers” and it’s hidden so well that it doesn’t state directly what to look at or not to look at and coming from a religious party what does that mean is according to your own interpretation if you think a woman is wearing a tight jeans or a short dress is sin that means looking at hear means that someone else is allowed to harass your relatives because that woman is sinful, leaving the door open to other’s interpretations is dangerous specially in the middle east, when a religious party hang banners like that it means everything against their believe is a SIN, and what makes me wonder who gave them the approval and who actually issues permits to hang those banners is showing how double standard the governments are, because on one side and for the western world governments in the middle east shows that they support progressive ideas and on the other side governments are allowing those groups to run society on a daily bases.
As a liberal women what do I do with you making me a minster or prime minster or becoming the house speaker or a head of a governmental sector, what’s the point of giving me all those positions, without giving me the responsibility and the freedom of my privet life, what do I do with all those high positions without the right of choosing my own fate, if I can’t file for a divorce, when it’s illegal for me as a woman to marry a man from another religion when all men in the middle east are allowed to do so, what do I do with all those high position when I can’t get the citizenship for my children if I marry a man from another country but on the other hand if a man marries a woman from other country his children are allowed to get the citizenship, I can’t get a house for my family if I marry a man from another country, what do I do with all the high positions if I my husband can marry four women without any consent on my behalf even the idea itself doesn’t go with the 21st century, what do I do with all the high positions if I am seen as a second citizen and always waiting for the men to allow to do or don’t. what do I do with my right to vote if the system is only allowing conservatives and religious groups to be candidates in the elections or convincing people through propaganda that liberals are atheists and devil worshipers or they are trained by the foreign intelligence agencies, yes I have the right to vote with these kinds of options it’s a crime against women to vote for those candidates.
all the ministries and all the high position means nothing if a liberal woman like me can’t get her daily freedom to run her life according to her point of view. As a liberal woman in the Middle East, what do I do with all those positions if the parliament is occupied by religious and extremely conservative groups? and it became even darker and more gloomy to liberals in my country since the late prime minister who was a liberal man who believed in economic and social equality between the sexes his famous quote is “Freedom of religion, Education, Health care and Gender Equality ensure good quality of life”, and I will stand against anyone who doesn’t believe in those principles even if you were my brother, sister, mother or father, and I will stand with until the end if you believe in those principles. And since he’s been gone those freedoms are being undermined and day after day those groups who he fought so hard are coming back strongly trying to ban ever since all kind of freedoms, they even went so far to suggested a “ Manners legislation” wanting to ban women from dressing up freely and wanting to control how people live their personal life brining back middle ages principles and day after day I’m seeing banners in the streets addressing sin and some extremely religious quotes and the mosques are more and more talking in their speeches about the liberal principle and how to fight it back and how liberals are sinners and they must be brought down and shut them down.
The lack of freedom is the lack of life, and this conservative movement wasn’t always active in the past the same way it is now, the middle eastern society was liberal and open minded with a progressive look into the future, until the western countries decided to fight the communism at that time in the middle east just like a lot of countries some of people believed in communism and most of the world started a war against them , and the west convinced our leaders to attack communist with conservative groups and religious groups, basically convincing those groups that communists are atheist and infidels trying to take over the whole middle east to implement atheist laws and to destroy Islam principles and since then those groups managed to take over society and to create a fearful society full of hatred towards the west itself and to create an extreme ideology that anything from the west is atheism and the devil worshipers, and by time the middle east woke-up on a volcano that exploded full of extremism and even those moderate religious groups are against civil rights laws, and the subject “separating religion from state” is a dangers subject in the middle east because you will be labeled as atheist, and even the word secular is forbidden in our society because you will be labeled as theist, so you could get killed or harmed as a warning.
Finally, history is always moving forward, not backward, history doesn’t wait for those who choose to stay behind, no matter what, especially in this age of information and globalization. No one ever managed to break history’s wheels from moving; it might look dark now for liberals and women in the Middle East. All I know is that history is always moving forward, even when it look like it is moving backward, the resistance coming from conservatives and extremely religious groups shows that they are trying to stop the evadible, and I am sure that one day willingly or not they will surrender to the truth.
“They said, “You are a savage and dangerous woman. I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous.” ― Nawal El Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero