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Fascism in the Making


30-04-2015
English | العربية

Mohammad Fadhel Al Obaidly

Advisor, Public Opinion Research Center


Tag: Terrorism Education
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I repeatedly received a video on my smartphone of a teacher in an Arab country slapping young pupils, boys and girls aged between six and seven years old, on their faces and then beats each one of them with a stick. The children surrendering in a long line, waiting to receive a slap from their teacher. This teacher, and I strongly  hesitate to describe him as a teacher, appeared to be venting out all of his anger with each slap he handed to the pupils. 


In some previous months, I have also received another short video. The video was of a school in South America, where teachers line up in the morning to greet their students as they arrive, in a way that strongly resembles our Arabic traditional greeting (touching the noses). My purpose here is not to open a debate or comparison between us and them, or about the best tools in the education and upbringing of children.
No, this is not my purpose, but rather I want to pose this: monitoring the first building blocks of fascism in our societies.

What can that disgusting scene in the first video mentioned mean? What can children learn? And what will remain with them from the blows they receive in the morning on their faces? What drives a man entrusted to teach someone's child to slap him or her  in this humiliating way?

 

Many of those who worked in the field of Education argued that stick and beating are necessary to the behavior of children.
And they mocked the theories of education that depend on guidance and interaction with the students, considering it a cause for complacency and idleness. This confusion between masculinity and vulgarity that previous generations of Arab teachers and administrators used to conduct, and some even to this day, is not a magic recipe nor a tool to ensure good behavior. Rather it is  the first building blocks to graduate generations bearing in itself the seeds of fascism, that will appear later.


Thus, after long decades of formal education in modern Arab countries, fascism becomes the common factor between generations of Arabs.

Since  the Arab springs witnessed in 2011, they excluded rebelling young people from the scene in favor of the forces of political Islam (Sunni and Shiite), which did not provide more than exclusionary tendencies and political discourse which reflect inherent fascism: a distorted understanding reflected Islam in the brutal killing and beheading.

 

It seemed the voice of the opposition, democracy and the values of modernity fade before these anti-science groups and anti-modernity and humanitarian achievements.
If the emergence of these groups and its spread seems like a natural outgrowth of the long decades of violence and repression by authoritarian regimes, now the distortion is clear on younger generations who have come to represent something like a human inventory of these groups.
In 2004, I conducted a journalist investigation about the kidnapping and killing of foreign civilians practiced by Al Qaeda. At the time, I asked a young female employee in her twenties about her opinion, she answered: (they deserved it), and justified  her point of view that she perceives it as  revenge because of what they are doing in Iraq and Palestine.
I was really shocked by the logic of this young lady. She expressed herself according to the fatwa that developed on the basis of the global front to fight the Jews and the Crusaders. Issued in 1998, it stated: "To kill Americans and their allies, civilians and military, is an individual duty for every Muslim in each country when it is easier for him .. etc".
She didn't appear to be the religious type,  she was not even wearing a 'hijab' , which gave way to my shock turning into terror. Her answer meant that the logic of Al-Qaeda had become widespread. A survey conducted a few months back found the  majority of young people believed that what the organization 'Daesh' represents is the right Islam.


What makes people attracted to the proposals of fascism and absolute generalization of logic (all foreign are infidels etc ...)?

 

More than one answer has been posed, the interpretation that oppression, poverty, despair and violence feed fascism exists and is valid, but almost everyone is in agreement that the first manifestation of the defect begins in education. The defect here is not about the methods of restraint and rudeness in dealing with students, but also education is deteriorating day after day in many Arab countries.
The comparison between the scene of the Arabic teacher (I call him teacher only for clarification), the one who slaps the young children one after the other, and the scene of teachers in that Latin State as they queued to greet pupils by kissing and touching noses, is more than enough to clarify  the real difference in the relationship between teachers and students: love.


Another  major difference is greater in context. The countries of South America, had suffered just as Arab countries had of military regimes and coups and civil wars for long decades.
But most of the communities in Latin America found their way for the future, and made efforts to recover from the effects of periods of violence. But here in the Arab world, no one thinks about the future, but nostalgia wake up to fascism and the glorification of dictators in a scary way.
The fight against fascism is a fundamental task on the agenda of governments to combat extremism, and the beginning is: school.

 

Published in (AL Bayan) newspaper April 29, 2015.

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