Writing in the pan-Arab international daily newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat (“The Middle East”), columnist Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed noted the bitter irony of the “Happy Eid” ( “feast”) ending Ramadan at a time when the Muslim world is suffering under the weight of some of the worst sectarian conflict in recent history.
“The Eid [“feast” ending Ramadan] that brought Muslims together did not come to pass apart from ongoing sectarian civil strife (fitna ) between Sunni, Shia, Alawi, and others. Today, we find ourselves at the high point of a cultural and confessional conflict in contemporary Islam that is inflaming political differences and spreading like wildfire across a wide geographical area…
King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz at the [recent] Mecca Conference announced an important first step. He called for the creation of a center for dialogue on stopping the sectarian strife that has plagued the Muslim world. Opinions differ on how to treat the sectarian disease: between those who think we need to criminalize sectarian talk and those who want to create an officially sanctioned culture of coexistence. But loud voices of sectarianism remain among those who consider jihad the optimum way to defend religious convictions…
The first step in the fight against sectarianism is to convince all parties in the political and media spheres that sectarianism represents the greatest threat to the fabric of society and the state.”
UPDATE — Aug. 25, 2012 — BBC report: Sufi shrine attacked in Libya