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Tyler Campbell History 106 Professor Bynum December 3, 2009 Arab Nationalism Arab Nationalism is an ideology that came about in the early 20th century of a group of Arabic-speaking countries in North Africa and the Southwestern tip of Asia, known as the Arab World. This stretch of land is made up of 25 countries and about 358 million people. Its boundaries are the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. This group has become known as the Arab League. Arab Nationalism is the idea that these countries are tied together by a common language and religion. The goal of Arab Nationalism is to unite these countries so there is limited influence from the Western world and to get rid of governments that are dependant on countries in the Western world. Modern Arab Nationalism hasn’t been around for that long, only 150 years or so. It started out as a controversy between countries in the Ottoman Empire views of religion. There were writings in the Ottoman Empire scolding people for betraying the Islamic faith. Strong Arab supporters believed Islam used to be intensely practiced and that was the reason for European modernism. They said the reason for declining countries was because they had gone away from the true faith. They blamed the governments for this because they were adopting practices from Western countries. Arab patriots wanted them to bring back true Islam to the countries. People starting uniting and supporters started forming social groups. Most people were against the Ottomans and wanted to overthrow them. In Syria and Lebanon, patriots mixed together and their faith became stronger than Ottomanism. A philosopher from Lebanon, Ibrahim al-Yazigi, said that the Arabs needed to overthrow the Turks and called for a separation of church and state. Eventually, a secret society was formed and went to Beirut to rebel against and overthrow the Ottomans and free Lebanon. Muslims starting forming similar secret societies in Syria trying to get it free from the Ottomans. By the beginning of the 20th century, the secret societies started uniting and formed nationalistic views. The based their views on the works of an Egyptian Muslim scholar, Muhammad Abduh. He believed that the countries should bring back the original Islam faith instead of adopting practices from the West, because he said that the Western world had based all its religions on traditional Islam from the traditional successful Eastern world as they saw how successful Europe was with true Islam and how Muslims were failing. This brought a revival of true Islam and Arab culture, thus influencing modern Arab nationalism because it restored Arabs as leaders of the Islamic faith. People later argued that the Ottoman Empire should be Turkish and Arab. Arab Nationalism is causing problems in the Middle East today over controversies of religion just like it was then. Even though today the main conflicts are over oil, there is still some fighting over religious issues. With the Arab World being in the Western part of the region, that’s where Islam is most dominant. People have formed cultural stereotypes to some religious groups. Everyone has seen the picture of an Arab with his head wrapped and everything depicted as a bad guy. People in the U.S. hold grudges to Arabs from the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The problem resides in the fact that the religious leaders in the nations normally have control over the military too. So when there comes a disagree over religion, force is used. Since the U.S. supports some of the Middle Eastern countries, some people say they are to blame for all the violence because they provided some of the countries with weapons. Arab Nationalism takes away from more advancement in literature and other subjects. When the region was under the Ottoman Empire, the countries took stuff from the other countries and improved it. Now, the Arabs and Turks are isolated from each other and can’t borrow stuff from the other’s culture. So that’s leading to the areas in the region being less advanced than countries in the surrounding regions. As Arab Nationalism was getting more popular, the secret groups were starting to form organizations and clubs. In 1911, the Young Arab Society was formed in Paris. It wanted to raise the level of Arab nations to the level of advanced nations. At first it didn’t call for an independent Arab state, it remained as part of the Ottoman Empire. However, the Ottomans still cracked down on the group and it was forced to go underground. Since it was forbidden, most people stayed away from Arab Nationalism and remained members of the Ottoman Empire. Before World War I, the British wanted the Arabs to revolt. They overthrew the empire and went into Damascus. This was the center for the whole movement. At first there was a problem within countries. They were afraid if they formed one huge unified mass that there would still be some local favoring. Another problem was developing in the fact that the traditional Islamic people were different and continuing to grow apart from this young generation that was doing all the rebelling. An Arab Independence Party was founded to achieve unity between all Arabs and create total independence. Britain pretty much used the Arabs, only supporting them to use them against the Ottoman Empire. During the war they signed an agreement with France that divided the Arab states. With the Arab states under control of an empire again and not independent, Arab Nationalism now became a movement against European rule. After World War II, Egypt was a big supporter. They were opposed to Britain and wanted to have a huge span of united countries as a defense for any future wars. The Soviet Union gave aid and support with no regulations because Egypt opened up as a Cold War zone. Palestine and people being against Zionism helped Arab Nationalism become popular. Arabs didn’t want to be unified with religion as the central focus, but since most Arabs are Muslims it was used to create a unified region with a new identity even though Islam had brought most Arabs their glory. And now today the whole Arab Nationalism ideal is the group of countries unified by religion.