Deterring Extremist Thought

The Omanis are known for their coexistence and tolerance with differences; whether ethnic, religious or sectarian. Oman is one of the few countries that comprises for almost a century a Hindu temple, a Christian church and a Muslim mosque. The Hindu temple of Krishna is adjacent to the headquarter of the Catholic Church in Ruwi, Muscat. This reflects tolerance toward the religious diversity, besides the Omani rejection for any kind of terrorism and extremist thought. Therefore, it raises many questions on the factors that have contributed to create this successful sample of religious and ethnic toleration in a peaceful country like Oman. Identifying these factors will support the understanding of the Omani's thinking stereotype and the way it was formed. 

The first factor is the geographical position of Oman. It is considered as a coastal state that overlooks the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. In fact, those who were used to live in coastal areas were more able to communicate with different cultures, due to their formation of ancient trade relations with different cultures historically. This point is valid in explaining the Omanis constant tolerance attitude towards diversity. Moreover, Oman was located between the regional powers such as India, East Africa, the Gulf states and Iran. Accordingly, it witnessed huge immigration of people who had different religious and cultural values. Those immigrants were able to integrate themselves with Omanis as they were warmly welcomed. This proves the openness of Oman to the surrounding region demographically.

 Another factor is the historical expansion. During the 19th century, the Omani Empire extended to East Africa. In addition, it has established political relations with the great powers of that time, such as Portugal and the British empire. The Omanis ruled East Africa, building the system of social tolerance according to the tradition of the Sultan. The African society was familiar with the Royal Councils, which were held by the AlSaid rulers to identify the problems that were facing communities. The royal councils were dedicated to paying attention to the opinions regarding the interests of people and allowing them to practice their religion according to their doctrine and their own legislation.

Finally, a conscious political system. Political awareness contributed to the stability of the Sultanate. When the government succeeded in eliminating the armed rebellion in Dhofar region in 1975, the principle of amnesty for the rebels was adopted internally. Many opponents have been annexed into the government, as officials, to work for it not against it. In the external level, Oman did not participate in any military operation outside its borders, except in the war to liberate Kuwait in 1991. The political system keen not to be aligned to one side in the conflicts, making the Sultanate able to act as mediator on many regional and global issues. 

To conclude, terrorism and extremism thoughts have been away from Oman due to the combination of geographical, historical, cultural and political factors. Nonetheless, the most important factor is the awareness of Omani political, cultural and religious elites, they are bound by the basic principles of accepting the others and being able to live peacefully together. 

Written by:
Attifa Nasser Al Maskari

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