Religion, Politics, and Literature in the Middle East – Dr Reza Aslan

Dr Reza Aslan, “an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is a contributing editor at the Daily Beast (” spoke on March 15 about the interference of Religion and literature in Politics … even though no DIRECT mention of Bahrain was on his list of to-be-discussed issues … I personally believe most-if not all- theories apply to Bahrain.

The video is not short at all … but please go over the first 45 minutes or so (notably the most important part of the video) :

Highlights Paraphrased: Dr Reza Aslan’s views in a nutshell;

  • The Egyptian, Bahraini, Saudi and Yemeni PEOPLE don’t have a problem with Iran, its the governments that do.
  • The only open place in society-free space- in Egypt and in the region is the mosque … so it’s only natural that the only organized opposition is mosque based/religiously based.
  • 95% of Egyptians want religion to play a greater role in their government, yet the Muslim Brotherhood got 1% in a presidential straw poll earlier to the revolution.
  • the hysteria that one hears that Al Qaeda is going to take over these countries … Absurd! they have been left behind just like the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Nobody in Egypt wants a 5th war with israel… All 4 times they got slaughtered “they got their butts handed to them.”
  • Everybody is trying to find out .. who is the leader amongst the opposition? the leader is facebook.
  • These people don’t want an old man to show up and say I am in charge … as soon as Mubarak went down so did Al Baradie.
  • The only way to -sort of- fix society is to get rid of that entire class, get rid of that entire generation (leaders in the pre-revolution era.)
  • There is one thing that Arabs across the border agree on, Iran has been a despicable failure in every way and shape … NOBODY wants to be Iran.
  • its not like Egyptians are looking around and saying “you know what would be great … we should do what Iran does.”
  • Every single economic indicator that lead to the revolutions in the first place is worse in Iran.
  • The impoverished people in these gulf countries -Saudi and Qatar- are really the foreigners that are pretty much enslaved … i.e. Pakistanis, Indians etc. (working class expatriates.)
  • There’s no such thing as objective press in the United States … just doesn’t exist.
  • We’re talking about societies that were always stratified but that stratification have become far more pronounced.
  • Your economic possibilities are inextricably linked to your political access in a place like Egypt.
  • All the wealth, all the property, all the power goes to that very high political elite … that 1% that has managed to hitch it’s wagon.
  • I want a voice… I want a voice because having a political voice will necessarily give me economic power, hence democracy (a misconception in the Arab world.)
  • its a wonderful process that we do by the way, we give you 2 billion dollars in which you buy OUR weapons.

Al Wefaq Vs. the People:

Al Wefaq, in Bahrain, happens to be much like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt … both have been pretty much inspired by religion to somehow force their way into politics … both have initially disregarded the revolution, due to the fact that they had some sort of power and position in the government -even though very limited in nature- and then had to catch up in one way or another. The only difference is, Al Wefaq have actually gotten a firm grip around the people … especially with their moderate approach in portraying the people’s demands.

“But why?” you may ask … well Al Wefaq actually did the smartest move to regain trust … THEY RESIGNED! and if we have to be very honest with ourselves … anyone who abandons their position as a government official forces the people to respect him … Much like Dr Nezar Al Bahrna .. who gained MUCH respect after abandoning his newly appointed position – Heading the ministry of health!

However, and after events seem to flip the table on the opposition, Al Wefaq finds itself in a critical position; a [to be or not to be] situation really … especially after backing up the decision of the worker’s union to put a hold on the strike! and do not be surprised tomorrow if the teacher’s union do much of the same after meeting with the Minister of Education …

Many feel that the strike is the last card that the opposition holds after mass protests were barred … and once that was called off … the PEOPLE of the revolution sent out messages to start a protest on Friday in defiance of the words of Sh Ali Salman … who urged everybody to NOT confront the army … but do people really listen? Are the people really under the reign of Al Wefaq? Does the 7 political societies acknowledge that this is indeed a “facebook revolution?” That people are tired of being deprived of their basic rights … of the right to speak and hold public assemblies

In conclusion, I hope all sides show restraints on Friday … blood spilt will only worsen the issue here

I hope Peace, Love and revolution hits our beloved country, Bahrain.

2 thoughts on “Religion, Politics, and Literature in the Middle East – Dr Reza Aslan

  1. Good arguments my friend, keep up the good work. An interesting read. However, do you expect major uprisings on friday?

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