How the Islamic neo-fundamentalism in Lebanon has ruined the constructive dialogue between Europe and the Middle East?
The Islamic neo-fundamentalism has caused much more harm to the multinational constructive dialogue over the last years that could be briefly explained. It did not simply inspired fear and terror thread in Europe as well as political and territorial collision in the Middle East but has also succeeded to ruin the long lasting socio-economic relationship between the two regions. Moreover, the existing connection between the areas also appears to be damaged digitally which is a precognition of a complete information and media restriction regarding the already established universal communication practices.
As frequently explained, the Islamic fundamentalism has been mainly motivated by the cultural differences which exist between East and West (Huntignton, 1993) but the era of Islamic neo-fundamentalism, the beginning of which is mainly associated with the Islamic terrorist invasion against the United States seems to have primly economic and political origins.
No Solidarity for “Terrorist Supporters” like the State of Lebanon
Lebanon still remembers its Western categorization as Switzerland of the Middle East. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the created agreement between Great Britain and France, the Republic of Lebanon has been officially established in 1926. Before the civil war (1975–1990), the state has been considered as the most democratic country in the Arab world marked by economic and social prosperity. The religious diversity in the state at that time, has allowed the formation of a balanced and unique governmental structure, i.e. a special parliamentary system also defined as confessionalism in which the President should be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Chairman of the National Assembly a Shi`a Muslim, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Eastern Orthodox. However, this democratic universalism could not succeed to keep the Lebanese society protected from the current terror attacks of the Islamic State (IS).
After the end of the civil war and the followed Taif Agreement of 1990 and revision of the Lebanese Constitution of 1943, the institutional authorities have decided to transfer the power from the President to the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the National Assembly; to provide the executive power to the Council of Ministers and to increase the number of the seats in the National Assembly from 99 to 128. As result, the growing influence of the political party Hezbollah and its national pro-Islamic ambitions have leaded to strong social and institutional division in the state.
Besides, Hezbollah`s present strong hold on Bashar al-Assad`s regime in Syria has further deepened the state`s crisis by turning against the IS which has inspired civil tensions and loss of countless number of Lebanese civilian lives. Just in 2015, a suicide bomb attack in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli has killed at least 7 people and injured 20, followed by another double suicide bombing in Beirut which took the lives of 43 people and wounded another 200.
Sadly, these tragic events did not seem to grasp the attention of the European society at all. One day after the bombing in Beirut, the Western media has concentrated on the IS serial of attacks across Paris by passing over the critical situation in Lebanon. Moreover, the social network Facebook has activated its Safety Check feature in order to trace the victims and affected citizens in Paris so to provide information to their relatives and friends. The Facebook feature has been previously used in cases of natural disasters. Its limited access has received strong critic from the Lebanese society.
The Islamic neo-fundamentalism — a Step towards Economic and Political Stability in the Middle East
The critical condition in Lebanon and the lack of support from Europe appears to have more complex explanation than simply imaginable. As part of the Middle East, Lebanon could not overpass the major political transformations which have started long before the establishment of the IS in the region.
On one side, the Islamic fundamentalism can be defined as contemporary social movement which has been established since the last 100 years. It has achieved its popularity during the reformist process among the Arab states, also known as a period of Islamic Awakening. The main goal of fundamentalism is to return the Arab population to the religious Islamic roots as form of opposition to the modern education and the Western elite groups.
The Islamic neo-fundamentalism, on other side, is a political current of Islamic fundamentalism which has appeared after the successful Islamic revolution in Iran (1979). Since that time, the mainstream Islamist movements have steeply changed their ideological concepts from more universal to highly nationalistic objectives regarding their local structural organization and foreign affairs. Still related to the traditional roots but also driven by the need to improve the poor economic condition of the Middle East, the neo-fundamentalist supporters stand for integration of Islam in each social aspect including politics, law, economy, social justice, foreign policy, etc.; establishment of Islamic states which to be governed only by religious leaders and beginning of a holy war, Jihad, against the Western world.
After the 1990, these concepts have been adapted by most of the Arab states and represented by several political parties including Nahda in Tunisia, the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria, Islah in Yemen, Hamas in Palestina, Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan and the Gulf states and of course, Hezbollah in Lebanon and also has involved numerous invasive attacks against the West. As result, the constructive dialogue between Europe and the Middle East has been harmed on various levels, which in the case of Facebook`s limited release of Safety Check in Paris also speaks for lack of digital willingness of support.
The Use of Contemporary Social Networks as Space for Global Terrorism
As part of the information and communication technologies, the contemporary social networks such as Facebook and Twitter foster a beneficial exchange of ideas between people, societies and national agencies worldwide due to their capacity to gather information as well as to anticipate, analyze and reflect on various types of international events. Unfortunately, the last decade has been marked by civil and institutional concerns regarding the IS strategy of spreading terror and violent propaganda through video and written materials published on websites, forums and social media outlets. This fact has seriously affected the international discourse and global policies among regions, including Europe and the Middle East.
Since the 9/11 Islamic invasion against the United States in 2001, Internet and its supportive facets have been generally stated as an insecure place for many citizens. The increasing sense of fear and treat among western societies driven by the IS terror attacks in Europe has forced the governments and social networks providers to straighten their security policies, which in the case Facebook and Beirut can be considered as proper preventive measure against further IS attacks.
The state of Lebanon is troubled by internal institutional and civil conflicts inspired by the existing struggle between pro-Islamic and pro-western political representatives. In this sense, the need of support from Europe is more the evident, especially in times of terror. Unfortunately, the urgent demand of protection the European citizens against the IS online terror activities is a great challenge which forces the policymakers, internet companies and social network providers to remain alert in any condition, including bomb attacks of near countries.