In today's Arab world people are cowed, frightened and living under increasing repression. The press is frightened, too. How could it be otherwise in a region where an alliance of governments, private media businesses, and the public has set itself against dissenting voices, portrayed increasingly as a threat to state security?
Leaving aside the fanatic fringe -- and it is just a fringe -- much of the world conflates "Muslim" and "Arab," although this is far from accurate. Many people seem willing to attribute the worst characteristics of a few to the many, and so the actions of a relatively small number of murderers can taint all 1.6 billion Muslims and 340 million Arabs.
In light of the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East with no end on sight, what is one to make out of the contradictory relationship between the United States and Egypt. Of interest, is the latest decision by the Egyptian government to deny entry to a former U.S. diplomat, Michele Dunne, to attend a conference in Cairo.
To hear these "experts" pontificating about Islam or Arab culture is more than annoying. It's downright dangerous. Instead of elevating the discourse, they dumb it down. And instead of making us aware of the enormous complexities involved in these conflict zones, they reduce them to simple and easy clichés.
We have every reason to be concerned with the fate of the Christian communities of the Arab World. What is at stake is not just the survival of these important minorities; it is the future of the region, itself. Violent extremist groups like ISIS and their kin, pose an existential challenge not only to Christians, but to all Arabs and Muslims.
If the threat to Israel and Jordan is primarily security, to Saudi Arabia it is also ideological, with IS tracing its roots to the philosophy of the 18th-century warrior-jurist Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab and other Islamic sources on which the kingdom was built, and constituting a reference point that Salafists cannot ignore.