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State failure breeds fanaticism

Failure of key institutions is fueling rise of Al Qaeda in Lebanon

by Yasser Akkaoui

A Lebanese leader who sends our youth to fight and die in Syria is a traitor to our nation. Our youth are our future, and anyone who would put guns in their hands and send them to wage a “holy war” in another country is killing Lebanon’s hopes for tomorrow.

Ironically, the most sensible voice on the issue seems to be the Free Syrian Army leadership in Turkey, both condemning Hezbollah for sending sons of Lebanon to fight for the Assad regime and rejecting Lebanese Salafists’ calls to jihad across the border. No foreign fighters in Syria, they say. I couldn’t agree more.

Imagine if Sunni and Shia religious leaders had instead issued a fatwa making it the duty of every able-minded Muslim to get a university education, or to study a trade. Imagine if, instead of ordering hundreds of young men into a hail of bullets and bombs, those energies and talents were directed into creating small or medium-sized businesses. Imagine if, instead of being told to pray that God makes them martyrs for the cause, the Holy Quran was used to teach our youth that all life is sacred and Allah is merciful.

That so many of our young could be swept up in violent fanaticism is a failure of the state — a failure to provide proper public education that would teach young Lebanese to think for themselves instead of blindly following preachers of dogma; a failure to build the public infrastructure that would grow the economy and offer decent job opportunities for the next generation to raise families of its own, rather than stranding our youth in poverty, searching for a purpose in life.

With nothing in their grasp with which to build a future, Lebanon’s young talent are becoming fodder for the country’s demons. They say idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

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Yasser Akkaoui

Yasser Akkaoui is Executive's editor-in-chief.

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