Arab Christians: response to Anthony Shadid’s piece
This article by Anthony Shadid is well-intentions. But the premise is a cliche peddled by sectarian Lebanese Christians, like Ghassan Tuwayni who is cited in the article. "In the 19th century, they ushered in a renaissance of Arab culture." This is really a cliche that has be interrogated by new historians. First, those Christians were not alone. These were Arabs, Muslims and Christians and Jews, who were all active in the Arab renaissance. It was not only in Lebanon, as Lebanese nationalists would like to say. 2) The contributions of Muslims have been purposefully obscured. Who knows the name of Shaykh Yusuf Al-Asir who also participated in the Arab renaissance and who also (like Bustani and Shidyaq) participated in the project to translate the Bible. No one remembers him today, and Kamal Salibi in his history of Lebanon belittled his efforts. 3) Those Christians were either nominal Christians or not Christians at all. Bustani left the Maronite church and was an opponent of its repression and obscurantism. Ahmad Faris Chidyaq converted to Islam. They did that voluntarily and under no duress. If anything, the duress was in remaining Christians as brother of Shiydaq, As`ad Shidyaq, was tortured and killed by the Maronite church. Read about him in Ussama Makidisi's book, Artillery of Heaven. 4) Why do people still insist on putting every Arab in a sectarian cast? Shadid should have known that this myth is a typical Lebanese sectarian myth. 4) It is not true that Christians were the leaders of the Arab nationalist movements: they were there side by side with Muslims and neither of them viewed themselves in sectarian terms. Only in Western Orientalist trash do you read that Aflaq was a Christian while his partner, Salah Bitar was Sunni, when both--say what you want about them--never regarded themselves in such ugly sectarian terms. 5) Those theories come of Lebanese sectarian theories that believe in superiority of Christians over Muslims. They should be discarded, fast. 6) Shadid should know better to cite Ghassan Tuwayni on anything, on the need for non-sectarian model here when his ugly mouthpiece, An-Nahar has been an official outlet for sectarian right-wing ideology that believes in Christian genetic superiority.