Sectarianism

Sectarianism and the Arab revolutions

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What explains sectarian divisions such as the Shia-Sunni divide in the Middle East?
Lebanese socialist Bassem Chit rejects claims that sectarianism is a "pre-modern" force and argues it is rooted in the pattern of capitalist development and crisis in the region.

There is a growing debate over the role of religious sectarianism in the Middle East since the outbreak of the Arab Revolutions. Most writing on the issue deals with the question from a cultural perspective. One of the most striking examples of such an approach is the debate surrounding the supposedly Shia-Sunni divide, which many authors treat as an extension of a conflict over who should have assumed power following the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 CE.

Syria: the vultures circle

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There is growing alarm in Israel, the West and its Arab allies at the turn of events in Syria. Barack Obama's administration is divided between those who urgently want to create a Syrian proxy by arming the official Free Syrian Army (FSA), those who advocate direct military intervention, and a growing number who consider Syrian dictator Bashar Assad "the lesser evil".

There is growing alarm in Israel, the West and its Arab allies at the turn of events in Syria, exasperated by a paralysis on how to approach the revolution. Barack Obama's administration is divided between those who urgently want to create a Syrian proxy by arming the official Free Syrian Army (FSA), those who advocate direct military intervention, and a growing number who consider Syrian dictator Bashar Assad "the lesser evil". The recent attempt by Britain and France to lift the embargo in order to arm "friendly forces" was sharply slapped down by its European partners.

Loyal to the flag

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The recent flag protests by Loyalists in Belfast have underlined the continuing sectarian nature of the Northern Irish state. Goretti Horgan looks at the history of Loyalism and asks how socialists should relate to the Irish protestant working class

The sight of hundreds of protesters carrying Union Jack flags tends to be associated in England, Scotland or Wales with marches by the BNP or the English Defence League. In Northern Ireland it is now impossible to drive through any city, town or hamlet without finding part or all of it bedecked with massive Union flags.

Over the last two months Belfast and all of the North have seen practically daily protests about the Union flag, some ending in riots all featuring vicious sectarianism on the streets.

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