Speaking about the regime in our Arab world, particularly in the Gulf region, is complicated and extremely sensitive because the three powers are not yet clearly crystalised and the authority is akin to a patriarchal totalitarianism rather than contractualism which is the option of many monarchies around the world.
It has become the best option that realises partnership which separates and distinguishes the three powers.
Hence, the reality of the authority in the Gulf region is generally instantaneous, i.e living the present with the obsession of change on the one hand and preserving the identity on the other hand.
The regime is faced with two options: openness to others and its impact on economy and development because today’s market economy is no more closed nor can it be built on Kenophobia, the other option is living under a closed identity and its associated repercussions on the development, economic and educational movement of the society. The phobia of change and openness to others starts henceforth.
Notwithstanding the patriarchal regime such as the monarchies and sultanates are a natural state, some people take on the role of the regime more than the regime itself considering it (the regime) to be above the law, particularly the religious and the social authorities.
By using the term authority here I mean the power derived from external factors and not the power that is based on the legal structure which is presented by the total separation and distinction of powers, nor do I mean the institutional and structural connotation of the word that’s because the authority is a broader term that is not confined to an initially legalised structures.
The religious authority exercises terror when it wears God’s cloak thus deviating from the normal worshipping course of man to the line of divinity and places itself above the law and the authority thus becoming the hand of God and his shadow on the Earth.
It intervenes in all walks of life, watches people’s movements, becomes more irritated by the religious-historic text particularly in the area pertaining to the exercise of judgment through literality rather than essentiality.
Such a religious authority exercises terrorism against the different ones and the critics even within the same cycle. This is the most dangerous type of terrorism in terms of the collective mind and its deconstruction due to the difficulty (the collective mind) it faces in distinguishing between what is innate religiosity and the advanced applications interwoven with the religion, between the sacred and the historic, the absolute and the changing, the literal and the purposeful.
Similarly, the social authority exercises terrorism in the name of identity and traditions and the identity becomes ostensibly rigid, unmoving experiencing the duality of reality and identity.
This could be a natural state in human sociology since a rigid identity by nature does not exist and all identities are moving. This movement has been accelerated by the cultural and identity rush.
Hence, it is normal that our social and cultural identities are being affected in the same way that those of other peoples do. However, somebody is exercising terrorism on others in the name of identity either to introduce the sacred into the identity or the other way round or are doing so out of interest.
Consequently, the modern world tends to take the religious and social authority and place them in the hands of legalised institutions that revolve around the law in accordance to clear authorities that are separated from one another to ensure that the upper authority does not internalise a theocratic role at times and social role at other times as the Holy Quran said about the Pharaoh (And Pharaoh said: 'Let me kill Moses, then let him call to his Lord! I am fearful that he will change your religion or cause mischief in the land. Ghafir (26).
The Pharaoh is using both the religious authority (he will change your religion) and the social authority (cause mischief in the land). For this reason, some people are of the opinion that the general authority’s resort to the religious and the social authority is an indication of a state of weakness that it is experiencing for either economic or political reasons or for reason of instantaneous interest.
The authority of the modern world, through the state of citizenship, has parted ways with the theocratic state of the past on one hand, and the state of the quasi-frozen identity on the other.
We are now talking about the state of humans through humanity-related citizenship. However, terrorism can be practiced in the name of pure humanism when humanity deviates from the natural-individualistic line to humanism as an identity that is utilised to justify terrorism and discrimination against the dissimilar as in Laïcité (French secularism).
There is a delicate difference between citizenship as individuality and citizenship in terms of identity no matter how it pretended to have overtaken the clerical or social line of identity in managing public affairs.
The authority, unless freed from collective thinking — be it in the name of citizenship, humanism or modernism, will remain captive to terrorism against others and the circle of despotism and discrimination expands, naturally.
The state of citizenship is by no means separated from individuality, otherwise it would become a repressive identity that is not based on equality before the law, but on identity instead. Then, what identity is it? The society itself is shaped according to different identities be it religious, doctrinal, cultural or racial. Ergo, we will be involved in identity struggles on the one hand and terror and exclusion on the name of the identity. Hence, in order to get out of this vortex, the Social Contract Theory emerged.
As Amer N Shatara says: “The philosophy of the Social Contract emphasised the priority of the individual within the society, the protection of their political and social rights against external hegemony.”
The Social Contract theory where individuals concede some rights to the authority in return of other rights, however this is done within the individuality circle and individuality is exactly what places everybody under the line of equality in terms of rights and penalties.
The Social Contract is the means by which the state of citizenship is founded and the humanity of the individual is realised. Justice cannot be fathomed away from the Social Contract as no justice without equality and no equality without acknowledging a single individual essence.
Hence, the more the authority comes closer to individuality in managing public affairs, the more the circle of tyranny, exclusion and terror narrows.
In addition, the individuals feel humanity rather than servitude and that they are citizens on the basis of equality not identity. They feel that they belong to a single homeland instead of belonging to certain selves and scattered affiliations.
Acknowledging individuality does not cancel but refines the identity. Also, it is not tantamount to disputing with the authority for hegemony.
Rather, it is the breaking of the barriers of terrorism, despotism and exclusion practiced in the name of the authority and wears different cloaks such as religion, society, citizenship, humanism and modernism. Upon the realisation of a law that protects the individuals first and then the societies that revolves around institutions that are separated from one another.
The presence of a solid and clear system with broad circles of freedom and narrow circles of terrorism, tyranny and exclusion, creates optimum environment for economic growth and opens doors for youth innovation away from obstruction and guardianship and closer to motivation and refinement.
In today’s world, it's impossible to think with the closed mentality of the past nor is it possible to think with a single individual mindset. Innovation is the child of pluralism and freedom is a natural product that expands the individual’s capability and creativity.
Badr al Abri
The writer is interested in rapprochement and understanding. He is the author of The Jurisprudence of Terrorism