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Arabism (pan-arabism)

  Arabism (Arabic urubah) is the founding ideology of the Arab nationalist movement, and emphasizes the Arabic language and culture as markers of a distinct national identity amongst the people of North Africa and the Middle East.

Arabism emerged during the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the 19th century, and spread rapidly after 1918. In the first half of the 19th century scholars like al Tahtawi advocated Arab patriotism as part of a larger Ottoman supra-nationalism to rival the nationalist organization of the Western European states, and to protect the Islamic faith from the incursions of Christendom.

Arabism emerged as a widely held separatist ideology before and after the 1914-1918 war. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 meant that Arabs no longer had a protective union against the Western European powers, and this change gave a decisive boost to Arabism. Ba\'athism (‘resurrection’ in Arabic) was the primary pan-Arabic movement. It was influenced by the socialist organization of the Bolsheviks and was a reaction against the primacy of Islam as a unifying principle within the Ottoman Empire. Arabists do not reject Islam: they portray it as the fruit of Arab culture and history, and thereby assert the primacy of nationalism over religion.

Pan-Arabism seeks a unified state embracing all Arabic speaking peoples. Like the Pan-Africanist movement, the Pan-Arabic movement was divided between proponents of inter-governmental economic and political co-operation between sovereign Arab states (for example Lebanon), and advocates of the merger of existing Arab states into a single state (such as Syria). The Arab League was formed in 1945 with the aspiration to create eventual unity, but it has remained committed only to the moderate goals of inter-governmental co-operation. A short-lived United Arabic Republic (1958-1961) of Syria and Egypt created temporary optimism that a broader pan-Arabic ideal could be achieved. Factions of the Ba\'athist Party have held power in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and in Syria, under President Assad. Their dictatorships have not led to pan-Arabist unity, but rather the converse.

Presently pan-Islamic movements may have superseded pan-Arabic movements in political importance in the Arabic world. BO\'L

See also Africanism.Further reading Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples; , R Kalidi et al. (eds.), The Origins of Arab Nationalism.



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