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Journalism’s ‘troublesome, powerful’ Mideast presence

Octavia Nasr

(Al Arabiya) – The late Ghassan Tueni, my mentor and a doyen of Arab journalism, has always said that being a journalist was his favorite and most precious title. But his version of journalism is quickly disappearing. He could respect all opinions even if he disagreed with them. He was a journalist’s journalist and a role model in this sacred profession, which has earned itself the characterization of being both “troublesome” and “powerful.”

The only guarantee we have at this point is that the dramatic free fall some Arab countries are undergoing is unavoidable and even necessary. Recent events have been a means to let matters fall where they will, to see how and with whom the future will rise.

Amid an ever-changing Middle East, more often for the worst, it has become increasingly challenging to spearhead resolutions for the raging wars and lingering problems. Where can one get inspiration to end the bloodshed or return refugees to their homes or simply imagine life as it used to be only a short few years ago? It is therefore not surprising that many, including Arabs themselves, are turning their backs.

It is not difficult to see that the extremists have found their way to power across the region. Dictatorships were only replaced by militancy. Tyrants fell only to give rise to brainwashed underground groups. Disoriented, these groups practice intolerance and abuse power exactly as has been the case against them for decades. Their reactions are violent with deadly consequences, but we should expect their hatred to rage on as long as there is no one to stand up to them.

Old vendettas and alienation

The situation today is the result of years of carelessness and neglect, blinded tyrannies, failed Western foreign policies, old vendettas, hate-driven alliances and a systematic alienation of moderate voices.

Today, the Middle East stands at a crossroad with a major imbalance of wealth and power. Although “Instability” should be the headline of this era, some are still pretending not to be affected by it. A dangerous rise in extremism threatens friends and foes alike. Add to that upcoming Israeli elections and a confused U.S. administration that has made the region worse with one too many bad decisions and late responses.

The only way out of this impasse is for the people to take charge of their lives. Not as a region or nation but as individuals coming together to create, grow and defend an independent, sustainable and dignified life for themselves and for the generations after them.

Lucky are those who have already started such a process and are ready to apply it even at a small, individual scale. The future is in their hands.


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