The need to reclaim moderation


This year is close to gasping its last breath. Few people will feel sorry to see it depart. Few will want to remember 2001 at all. By many standards, moral, economic, political and humanitarian, it was a landmark year. As we begin to take stock of its numerous events our eyes turn to its successor in wonderment of what unknowns it carries in its belly.

The past months had seen extremism dislodge moderation, the world had edged closer to the borderline of economic collapse, widespread public panic and confusion, political and religious entrenchment, bellicose posturing and military indulgences. One has to look at the events of this year in a philosophical manner in order to make sense of what went wrong and how the world suddenly went berserk.

In a world of extremes, we see stark similarities between opposites; between George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden, between Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat, between Palestinian radicals and Jewish fanatics and between innocent victims in New York and Mazzar-e-Sherif!

In most cases it is the same blind drive, same hatred, rejection of others, loathing of differences that unites those who are locked in a fierce fight to destroy each other. One thing we have to be very careful about when looking at 2001. This was not the year that started it all, and the calamity did not begin on 11 September. On that particular day many Americans were hurt but every day before that day, and every week and every month and every year, many people from other nations were also being hurt-a good number of them as a result of American policies.

The US war on terror raises more ethical and moral questions than any of America’s brilliant newspaper columnists can handle. This is the war in which Sharon’s aggression on the Palestinians becomes part of the international “campaign against terror” and the daily murder of Palestinians suddenly becomes acceptable and justified. As nations are pushed towards entrenchment and self-centrism, we begin to see the globalization of narrow-minded tribe culture, or “tribalization.” So we end up, as people, less tolerant and much more hateful of those who disagree with us. We become vengeful and no matter what religion or constitution we follow, our paths lead to destruction and subjugation of the weak. We are all afflicted and we all have become sanctimonious bunch of hypocrites.

“Tribalization” has taken over the Americans, the Arabs, the Afghans and others. No technology can harness this destructive beast, which resides in people’s hearts and is translated in their actions and misdeeds.

We have to go back to moderation, as Muslims, as Arabs, as human beings, as citizens of this world. This is the same mantra whose words should be echoed in Washington, Tel Aviv, Cairo, Riyadh and elsewhere. The alternative to moderation is confrontation and destruction. The current trend will surely steer our world into more troubled times, if not even worse.

Mr. Osama El-Sherif is the Editor-in-Chief of