Centered on Civil Liberties & Political Issues, Human Development & Socioeconomic Matters
The events and outcomes of the 20th century had influenced and transformed human lives all over the world, for better or worse, more than any other century. Besides peace, civil liberty and equality were the most longed for democratic values of that turbulent century.
In the Middle East, Arab people were distracted by the on-going regional political instability, mainly by the unending Arab-Israeli conflict, occupation of Iraq and Iranian nuclear weaponization dilemma. Most Arab citizens were over-busy with their bread and butter instead of being able to engage in upgrading their civil issues and developing their socioeconomic conditions.
Nowadays, Arab people, by and large, are fed up with their autocratic and monocratic systems and massively rallying for a liberal system that provide political and civil rights in which they can improve their socioeconomic status and, above all, to have equal and unrestricted opportunities for political participation.
The concept of democracy has been interpreted as a universal structure and order to enable individuals, societies and countries to flourish and develop liberally and peacefully. Considering that democracy rests on harmonious public opinion. It implies that having a contented public is the best way to secure political and social cooperation between citizens and their states.
Middle Eastern countries that really seek to establish true democratic societies have to allow basic freedoms like freedom of choice, freedom of political participation, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of religion and worship, freedom of speech and press, and guarantee equal opportunities for its citizens.
In most developing countries, there are arguments about some controversial issues that are related to the compatibility of civil liberties and equality with development. The first basic dispute is over whether or not civil liberties should be controlled or limited to maintain social order. The other dispute is over whether equality means equality of income or “equality of opportunity”.
In Lebanon, to cite a mild case, the Lebanese authorities always assert that Lebanon is a democracy, not a regime. Whereas government officials and apologists often proclaim that civil liberty and equality do not always come together because it is necessary to restrict certain civic activities to focus on the common good.
These ill practices are diseases in the system, which are blocking any progress towards real democratic development thus and so all prospects to establish a better civil community in the future.
No matter what are the excuses, the fact remains that a real democratic government is legally obligated to protect all civil liberties and deliver equal opportunities to its citizens within its civil and political system. Yet, any attempt by the government to upgrade Lebanon’s civil liberties and equality settings must start with the elimination of all forms of corruption, bias, favoritism, injustice and sectarianism from the Lebanese administration as a mandatory step to democratize its political system.
The Lebanese government has to provide and secure equal opportunities for education by providing equal and equivalent learning opportunities and choices to produce equal chances for its citizens, as a first pragmatic step. Hence, public educational institutions should be within reach of all Lebanese citizens, regardless of their geographic and social backgrounds or financial status.
Misleadingly, the government counters by arguing that the main problem facing full realization of equal educational opportunities is merely a financial one. In fact, it is of a political nature and has a bureaucratic character, as successive governments never incorporated the required funding to provide private-like public education in its budgets.
In principle, democracy is a peaceful way to secure equality and liberty. Yet, cynically, most politicians maneuver and manipulate the concept of democracy so that it becomes the intent, instead of being just the means. Likewise, they dodge the real concept of civil liberty and equality to carry out their version of democracy.
Though the gap between Arab citizens and their governments is quite wide; yet, this gap can be bridged as long as officials, politicians and economic magnates ensure equality and civil rights to their fellow citizens.
To that end, developing countries, especially Middle Eastern countries, have no alternative but to rectify and revise their laws and regulations to accommodate their national public opinions, especially on civil liberty and equality issues, and skillfully adopt reform-minded methods of governance, before it is too late.