A medieval macabre show: Hungarian Jobbik member symbolically hangs Israeli leaders

Hungarians always complain that foreigners know little or nothing about their country. Well, lately they really can’t complain. Almost a week and a half after Viktor Orbán’s controversial speech the international press is still full of comments on it. Just today I encountered an opinion piece in The Moscow Times which concluded that something is indeed coming from the East “but it’s not the wind. It’s a virus. And with Orbán’s help, this virus has begun to infect the EU.” David Brooks in The York Times described Orbán’s speech as “morbidly fascinating.”

And now here is this effigy story. AP described what happened in Érpatak, a village of about 1,500 inhabitants. Mihály Zoltán Orosz, who has been mayor of the village since 2005, described Israel as “the Jewish terror state” that is trying to “obliterate the Palestinians.” Moreover, he is opposed “to the efforts of Freemason Jews to rule the world.” On the video below you can see a shorter version of the “public execution” where an executioner with a black hood over his face kicks chairs out from under the puppets of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Shimon Peres, each tied to a gallows.

The whole scene reminded the journalists of HVG of a medieval macabre show. Who is this man? He is a Jobbik member, but in 2010 when he ran again for the position of mayor of Érpatak he called himself an independent. He is known for his bizarre outfits which are supposed to be traditional Hungarian fare, but they are all terribly exaggerated and therefore ludicrous. He also likes military uniforms. The last time he made quite a splash was at the Budapest gay pride parade where he appeared in a female peasant costume. I am sharing a few of his most “spectacular” outfits.

Of course, a lot of people think that Orosz doesn’t have all his marbles, which is a distinct possibility. But he seems to function quite well and rules the village with an iron fist. Law and order dominate in Érpatak. He calls his “system” the “Érpatak Model,” which he claims is a great success and which should be emulated all over the country. He boasts about the low crime rate, though his critics counter that he exaggerates on that score. And there are some people in the village who are not altogether happy with his activities and the circus he creates around town hall and across the country.


His latest performance might have serious consequences. Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor immediately expressed his outrage and said that in his opinion “the Hungarian government must act in order to stop these dangerous acts.” The Hungarian foreign ministry got the message. On Monday around noon they issued a statement in which they declared that what happened over the weekend “cannot be reconciled with European norms and with the rule of law. The mayor uses the war and its innocent victims as a pretext for spreading the propaganda of hate.”


How much do we know about Orosz? Not enough, I fear. We know from Professor David Baer’s Testimony concerning the Condition of Religious Freedom in Hungary, submitted to the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission) on March 18, 2013, that Mihály Orosz “was affiliated with, or the founder of, at least four different groups registered as [bogus] churches.” Indeed, I found the names of three of these bogus churches in a recent article in Gépnarancs: the Order of the Heart of the Sun, Church of the Sophia Perennis, and the Order of the Eye of Heart.


We know that in order to apply for a job in Érpatak’s town hall the applicants have to fill out a form with 165 bizarre questions on politics and everything else under the sun.

Some people believe that it is time to put an end to Orosz’s activities. Among them is Gellért Rajcsányi, a young conservative publicist of Mandiner. He quotes an announcement from Érpatak’s website which calls attention to a demonstration for June 2014 in front of the courthouse in Nyíregyháza. At this demonstration they “symbolically hanged a criminal prosecutor and a criminal judge to show them what will wait for them after their death because of their activities against the world and the nation.” Clearly, Orosz likes to hang those with whom he disagrees. He led a group of people in front of the building that houses TASZ, the Hungarian equivalent of  the American Civil Liberties Union, where they verbally attacked the associates of the organization. The author calls for an end to the career of this wannabe Arturo Ui, a reference to Bertolt Brecht’s play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui which chronicles the career of a 1930s Chicago mobster and his attempts to control the cauliflower racket by ruthlessly disposing of the opposition.


Well, the moment might have arrived. Ágnes Vadai in the name of DK urged Peter Polt, the chief prosecutor, to order an investigation. That in itself wouldn’t have prompted Polt to lift a finger, but then Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor pressed charges because of “the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic horror show” that took place in Érpatak. Suddenly, the case had international implications that the government and the prosecutor’s office couldn’t quite ignore. The prosecutor’s office in Nyíregyháza began an investigation into the National Network of the Érpatak and the Youth Movement of the Sixty-Four Counties. If Orosz and the other organizers are found guilty they may receive up to three years in jail. I very much doubt, however, that he will spend even one night in jail.


  1. The “terror” state was terrorized by 3,356 missiles in the last 29 days.

    1947 missiles hit Israeli territory,
    591 of the Hamas missiles hit Palestinians in Gaza,
    578 were destroyed by the Iron Dome anti-missile system over Israel,
    240 targeted Israeli ground troops in Gaza.

    Launching sites:

    260 missiles were launched from schools,
    160 from “religious” sites,
    127 from cemeteries,
    50 from hospitals.

    During the fighting, Israel provided Gaza with electricity, medication, food, fuel.

    From the 1,856 trucks delivering humanitarian aid from Israel or crossing Israel during the war,

    1,491 trucks delivered 37,178 tons of food,
    106 trucks 1,029 tons of medical supplies,
    220 trucks 1,694 tons of other humanitarian supplies

  2. The Hungarian reservoir is reach on gifted and honest people, which is called the mix of liberal citizens.

    These people were in the opposition under Horthy, Rakosi and Kadar.

    What can be their numbers? I think that they are a minority of about 10%

    On the other side, there are the morbid Lilliputins, and their followers. These people are a sizeable minority.

    Probably, they amount to 20-30%.

    The rest of the people are just not too bright, and in their fear for the survival, they always drift to the all time rulers.

    This is the reality of Hungary.

    A few really apples gravitate proudly to the politics of Hamas of Gaza.

  3. It’s a sad state of affairs that such a clown is elected repeatedly and that there are people who participate and applaud at such an event. I wonder how many Jews live in Érpatak or in the surrounding area of Hungary, I suspect not many. Here is a typical case of ant-Semitism without Jews.

  4. You forgot to add to your statistics: over 1400 Palestinian dead.

    I just thought I help you out. Maybe you just forget that… or maybe not.

    “…the Hungarian government must act in order to stop these dangerous acts…”

    Hahaha… killing and bombing thousands of Palestinian is not a dangerous act, right? Hahaha!!!

  5. We know from the polls that a very large percentage of Hungarians hate the “piréz”es, a non-existent people as well.

  6. I would add to tappanch’s comments the fact that the “All of Gaza is an underground city, and the amount of infrastructure Hamas built up over the years is immense,” said Capt. Eytan Buchman, an Israeli military spokesman.
    “There are tunnels, extended bunkers, weapons storage facilities, even within urban areas,” he told the Washington Post.”
    “Hamas is estimated to have poured USD 30 million and 600,000 tons of concrete into building the tunnels. Each tunnel is estimated to cost upwards of USD 1 million.”
    Guess how much would it cost to feed the people of Gaza orvhow much would it cost to build schools versus relying on the UN to build the schools where Hamas often keeps its weapon arsenal?
    Certainly many Hungarians do not let facts get into the way of believing stupidity. Orosz is just one of the clown of many, but the real clowns are those Hungarians who buy into these kind of misinformations. Fidesz supporters are cut from the same brunch too.

  7. O/T, but not much.

    New far, far right t-shirt shop noted in a swish local plaza. Hate-filled hoodies, t-shirts … and babywear, too. I have not seen outlets like this – in such a mainstream location – in any other EU country. In many countries they would be illegal even in a backstreet.

  8. @Geometry

    Hamas claims that 1800+ people died, and 2/3 of them civilians, i.e. 1/3 of them combatants.

    Israel says that they killed 900+ combatants in 29 days of conflict.

    In Syria, 700 people get killed in two days.


    In the meantime, the cousins of Hamas, ISIS want to exterminate anyone, who are not Sunni Muslim, including Shi’a Muslims, Christians and Yezidis.



  9. Next to Orosz, the other person who should be investigated is Zoltan Balog, minister for human resources. Very recently Balog denied the Roma Holocaust. I believe that the denial of the Holocaust even in Hungary is a crime. Isn’t it? I fail to see how only the denial of Jewish Holocaust could be punishable and not the Roma Holocaust.

    Balog had told public Kossuth Radio that no Roma were deported from Hungary during WW2.”
    “It is important to know that no kind of Gypsy deportation took place from Hungary. It happened from Austria: Hungarian Gypsies were taken from there and so this really did affect Hungary,”

    In case one of the media interns of Zoltan Balog follows this blog:
    “A nyilas hatalomátvétel után megkezdődött a cigányság szervezett összegyűjtése. Az orosz előrenyomulás miatt ez főleg a nyugat-dunántúli megyékre korlátozódott. A legnagyobb gyűjtőközpont a komáromi ún. “Csillagerőd” volt, ahová több ezer magyar romát hurcoltak. Az itt fogva tartott nők, férfiak és gyerekek a nyári zsidó gettók borzalmait idéző körülmények között sínylődtek. Sokan belehaltak az éhezésbe és a bántalmazásba. A romaellenes akció nem a cigányság egészének fizikai megsemmisítésére irányult: Komáromban kiválogatták a munkaképeseket, a gyermekes anyákat, az öreg és beteg embereket hazaengedték, de sokszor 13-14 éves lányokat munkaképesnek nyilvánítva mégis visszatartottak. A kiválogatottak Dachauba és Bergen-Belsenbe kerültek, ahol sokakat meggyilkoltak, mások embertelen áltudományos orvosi kísérletek áldozataivá váltak. Ravensbrückben különösen sok fiatal magyar roma lányt sterilizáltak. Magyarországon több helyen tömegkivégzésekre került sor. Csendőrök és nyilasok Szolgaegyházon, Nagyszalontán, Dobozon, Várpalotán, Lajoskomáromban és Lengyelben többszáz romát – köztük gyermekeket és nőket – gyilkoltak meg gépfegyverekkel és kézigránátokkal. A magyarországi roma holokauszt mintegy 5000 életet követelt. Az üldözöttek száma tízezrekben mérhető.”
    The above is from the website that is maintained and operated by with partnership
    Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum
    Történelemtanárok Egylete
    ELTE Holokauszt és Társadalmi Konfliktusok Program
    Centropa Magyarország
    Hannah Arendt Egyesület
    Magyar Zsidó Múzeum és Levéltár
    Yad Vashem – The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Auschwitz-Birkenaui Állami Múzeum
    Jewish Foundation for the Righteous

  10. tappanch
    August 5, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    In the meantime, the cousins of Hamas, ISIS want to exterminate anyone, who are not Sunni Muslim, including Shi’a Muslims, Christians and Yezidis.

    We should send Kover and Orosz to try to broker some peace deal with Hamas leaders.

  11. Geometry
    August 5, 2014 at 7:17 pm
    You forgot to add to your statistics: over 1400 Palestinian dead.

    Maybe.. just maybe (and you should start to use your head here), if Hamas would not pu their weapons and the rocker launchers they bombarding the civilians in Israel into school building, hospitals, and civilian buildings, they would not harm their own people? I have to think about that.
    Geometry, please do not let facts get in the way of your theories!

    “On the afternoon of July 28, a squad of Gaza terrorists fired a barrage of four rockets from a densely populated area, aiming to kill Israelis. Instead, one hit al-Shifa hospital and another the Shati refugee camp, both inside Gaza. A third was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system above Ashdod. ”

    “Israel’s claims that Hamas uses UN premises to store weapons has been given substance by the discovery of arms caches at three UN schools on 16, 22 and 29 July. The UN says the schools had been closed up for the summer holidays, and condemned their appropriation by militants as “flagrant violations of international law”. It said it immediately informed all relevant parties about the discoveries.”

  12. The Obama administration has a dash of schizophrenic problem too:

    On the one hand, it watches one million people, mainly for ties with Islamist terrorists.


    On the other hand, the state supporters of Hamas are Qatar and Turkey.
    But Qatar and Turkey signed agreements in July to purchase
    US weapons to the tune of 11 and 4 billion dollars


  13. The real criminality of this protest in Erpatak as I said the other day when I posted a link to this video was that it had nothing whatsoever to do with concern over dead Palestians, but everything to do with killing Jews. We can argue in the US or in Hungary as to whether Israel can justify this war, but in my opinion Israel by introducing ground troops totally played into Hamas strategy which was to kill and wound IDF soliders.

    Israel has 60 dead IDF soliders and probably five times that number wounded, which has become a normal ratio in modern warfare for a modern army with rapid medical evacuation. Without the US supporting Israel this state could not afford it advanced military machine, and without the support of nation states in the Arab world Hamas could not continue as the force it is. The tradegy of this conflict is immense and there is enough blame to be shared by the many players involved included the Nazis who propelled so many European Jews to escape to British controlled Palestine.

    Given how serious this all is the Jobbik put on this anti-Semitic circus for the entire world to marvel at. Truly amazing.

  14. Mr Nazi’s 179 interview questions to applicants for a local non-political job:

    #92: List the most important items of the Gypsy strategy of the village.
    #120: What is your opinion of the secret background activities of the free masonic organizations?
    #124: What is your opinion of the French revolution?
    #141: What is your opinion of the “gay pride”?
    #151: What is your opinion of Miklos Horthy?


    The name of the village before 1908 was “Hugyalj”

  15. @Istvan

    “Israel has 60 dead IDF soliders and probably five times that number wounded”

    Excellent estimate: 64 IDF soldiers killed in combat, 463 IDF soldiers wounded

  16. “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

  17. Atilla Levay
    August 5, 2014 at 9:54 pm
    “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”
    Oscar Wilde
    “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”
    Thomas Gray: Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

    @Atilla (shouldn’t be Attila?), The problem with your quote is that people, like Orosz and some other morally challenged and oblivious to history individuals have no idea what it refers to. It does not retains to having the freedom to tell others to kill, rape, and rob others. You get the concept? Yes, anyone have the freedom to say that xyz is very stupid person, but no one has the right to say that xyz should be killed and his house burnt down because he is stupid.
    How would you feel if someone would suggest harm to your loved ones? Do they also have the right to hire someone to do the deed? You know there are many stupid people out there, who listen very stupid people, like Orosz, and would be happy to follow his wishes for free. There are people out there who do not see anything wrong with enticing hatred, and with encouraging the killing of others. Many of them are even stupid enough to say that free speech protects those who tell others to kill! You get the concept?

  18. Geometry: “You forgot to add to your statistics: over 1400 Palestinian dead.”

    It is hard to forget the high number of civilian victims in Gaza. A reporter from a TV station in India happened upon one of the many reasons:

    By the way, the small number of civilian victims in Israel was not due to the humanitarian behavior of Hamas.

  19. ” I very much doubt, however, that he will spend even one night in jail.”

    Au contraire, Orban will probably appoint him as an Ambassador for Norway or some such .
    His views fit 100% with those of the Nazi fruitcakes now running the show here; he is just a bit more flamboyant than your typical Fidesz apparachnik.

  20. “And as they sit around the midnight fire tasting the various canine delicacies, a voice is
    heard raucously yelling: ‘We’ll be laughing about these stories 500 years from now!’

  21. Dear Éva,

    I have little doubt that Jobbik deliberately planned Orosz’s anti-Israel hiszti as the opening salvo in its municipal-election campaign in Miskolc and its environs. There is no better way to ensure that Jobbik wins big on Oct. 12 in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén and Szabolcs-Szatmér-Bereg than by coming down hard on Orosz.

    Remember that Jobbik is extremely strong in BAZ and came quite close to winning the parliamentary seat for the central Miskolc last May. The constituency eventually went to the MSZP candidate in a three-way nail-biter race with Jobbik and Fidesz.

    Despite the outrage over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, Miskolc is currently conducting some ethnic cleansing of its own against its mostly Gypsy slum dwellers. Jobbik has been collecting signatures to force the Miskolc mayor to treat Gypsies according to the principles of Orosz’s “Erpatak model,” which means:

    “For the aggressive, criminal class of people who live outside the law, who acknowledge neither God nor man, who terrorize both Hungarians and Gypsies equally, there is no room for any kind of negotiations or regard — only the most candid and hard-hitting frontal combat and imposition of the rule of law, until they crack and begin to conform.”


    Voters in the Miskolc region support this kind of attitude. They are also notorious for their anti-Jewish attitudes. (I have spent quite a bit of time in the area.)

    If Polt prosecutes Orosz, every nemzeti loony in the region will go on the warpath and skewer Fidesz for caving in to Jewish pressure and denying the Erpatak mayor his right to free speech. Jobbik will pick up votes.

    If Polt does nothing, the Fidesz voters in Miskolc who find Orosz’s actions distasteful will be more likely to stay home on Oct. 12. Jobbik’s share of the vote will rise.

    If Fidesz goes after Orosz, they will be walking into a cleverly laid political trap.

  22. A small correction: the female peasant costume picture is photoshopped. He was a male peasant at the gay pride parade.

  23. Orosz has clear mental issues and rules over his miniscule fiefdom accordingly. But it is quite wrong to regard him as a Fidesz stooge, as certain posters have claimed. What is frightening about him is that he now represents the authentic opposition in Hungary. If Fidesz collapses, it will be people like him who take charge of the country, not the shambolic idiots currently squabbling over who to put forward for the Budapest election.

  24. Érpatak is really in the middle of no where!! Nothing but fields of corn!!! My guess is anything in that area would count as entertainment. I’d be surprised to find any evidence of a jewish population there. The only surviving jewish cemetary that I know of in the area is in Mad (~80km north of Érpatak) and there is currently no jewish population in Mad either.

  25. @LwiiH

    Religious composition of Érpatak a hundred years ago (1910 census)

    Greek Catholic 1216
    Roman Catholic 471
    Calvinist 200
    Israelite 62, i.e. 3.2%

  26. “…if Hamas would not put their weapons and the rocker launchers they bombarding the civilians in Israel into school building, hospitals, and civilian buildings, they would not harm their own people…”

    I think this is a clear Israeli speech/propaganda. Why? Very simple, I can prove it in two steps:
    1. They use this logic since decades. Always the same speech. I never saw proof however.
    2. Even if everything is true what israelis saying: the death ratio is 1400 / 60 = more that 20!
    What constitution, what law, what morality allows to kill 20 times more people?

    Just imagine, that a gypsy shoots from he’s house killing a policeman in Hungary. Do you think the police would blow up the whole house with the whole family inside?!
    In Israel maybe, but not in the rest of the world…

  27. One of the biggest tragedies is that, in Hungary, a xenophobic far-right party should cynically be at the forefront of campaigning on behalf of peace and basic freedoms in Palestine and Gaza. No-one for a moment believes that this is to do with anything other than Anti-Semitism (Jobbik is not noted, in any other sphere of its existence, for its compassion and respect for other cultures). So the tragedy is that liberals (I used that word in a non-coded non-Hungarian sense) can march on behalf of Palestine in any other country in the world. But we can’t march in Hungary, because it would be crazy and contradictory to do so under an Arpad flag. It would be helpful if international campaigners on behalf of those suffering in Palestine distanced themselves from this squalid and local distraction.

  28. @Geometry

    A simple math lesson for you: Israel is surrounded, and often attacked by the surrounding
    moslem population which is greater than 200 million. Israel has a population of 5 million.

    Do the math. What’s the ratio of moslem to jew? And a war of attrition means…

  29. @Petofi
    “Israel has a population of 5 million.” update your numbers…

    1954: 1.7
    1964: 2.5
    1974: 3.4
    1984: 4.2
    1994: 5.5
    2004: 6.8
    2014: 8.2 (including 1.4 million Muslims, 0.2 million Christians, 0.2 million Druze)

  30. Egyptian population

    1954: 23.7, Egypt/Israel = 13.9
    1964: 31.2,,Egypt/Israel = 12.5
    1974: 39.5, Egypt/Israel = 11.6
    1984: 49.2, Egypt/Israel = 11.7
    1994: 56.3, Egypt/Israel = 10.2
    2004: 69.3, Egypt/Israel = 10.2
    2014: 86.5, Egypt/Israel = 10.5

  31. “Do the math. What’s the ratio of moslem to jew?”

    Oh, my God! I can’t belive you said that! That means a nation can rightfully kill multiple times of their loss? I never heared something like that. That’s crystal clear fascism.
    Do you heared anything about Geneva Convention?

  32. @Geometry

    Stick you ‘fascism’ where the sun don’t shine.
    Hardly a week goes by without when

    some Moslem leader or other doesn’t call for the destruction of Israel and the killing of its people. One such threat was already carried out in Europe–and not without the eager help of Hungaricoes.

    And you already know what you can do with the Geneva Convention and the UN. Weren’t missiles being stored in UN schools in Gaza? Oh yes, I forgot: “The schools were closed for the summer…” Sure, as an excuse, that will do.

    Read my lips: “Palestinianism is a BUSINESS”. They have swallowed billions of dollars of aid from which the PLO, and no doubt now Hamas, take their 20% cut off the top.

  33. @tappanch

    re populations

    Man, those jews do populate, don’t they?

    I guess that’s true of many normal states that don’t clearly show the future, as Hungary does,
    to be ‘slavehood’.

  34. Lazlo
    August 6, 2014 at 4:02 am
    The Israel-Gaza war is really off topic here.

    I guess you forgot to watch the video this topic is based on. Unfortunately for the mayor of Erpatak, the conflict in Gaza provided the new “ammunition” for his hate speech. His uninformed (or likely informed by Jobbik) stance, and the information that is generally passed on to Hungarians by similar elements like him helped such messages to make popular. Geomtery’s very first comment on this thread in fact proves my point.

    And what do you have to say about Orosz by the way?

  35. Geometry
    August 6, 2014 at 7:05 am
    “Do the math. What’s the ratio of moslem to jew?”

    Oh, my God! I can’t belive you said that! That means a nation can rightfully kill multiple times of their loss? I never heared something like that. That’s crystal clear fascism.
    Do you heared anything about Geneva Convention?
    I am not aran of petofi, but do not put words in his mouth. He simply said that a small nation has the right to defend itself when getting continually attacked.
    By the way, as you seem to sticking around why don’t you reply to post directed at you instead going on a rampage?
    Can you reply fro August 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm? THat is based on facts, not on what I think happened…

    And what do you think about Orosz by the way?

  36. For those who like reality-show comedy there is another episode for the never ending show titled: “the self-destruction of the left wing”.

    Fidesz knocked the entire left field down to some 30%, the lefties themselves make sure they disappear for good. (I think the coup de gras will be this round of municipal elections, which is a pretty big achievement given Fidesz’ abysmal real life performance.)


    444.hu also had a very funny post yesterday about this crazy comedy, mostly MSZP is playing. The famous szocis seem to be very offended, they are sulking just like any kindergarten kid would, and can’t seem to get used to the new era.

    Meanwhile they do at which they are the best: meetings after meetings, committees, negotiations, more meetings and the like — till death.

    It’s fascinating, in a perverse way.

    How can people be so incompetent and yet seriously think that people would care about them so much that they would elect these hopeless “szocis” as their new leaders. (And note that the huge compromise Mr. Falus is a sure loser: there is now way he can win given current popularity figures and the election system).

    It boggles the mind, but apparently the szocis have all the energy in the world for these comedies.

    I know dozens of formerly left/liberal sympathizers who simply say even Fidesz (or perhaps Jobbik) is better than this hopeless bunch. Would these szocis be able to decide about anything at all or would they hold committees for days and then retract and then decide anyway, but wait, we did not really think so, so we gonna think a little bit more, let’s have a real discussion, involve our experts, let’s circulate the new proposal, and then schedule a new round of discussions ad nauseam.

  37. Earlier today Hungarian police raided the offices of the Erpatak municipality. During the police raid they confiscated video cameras, computers effegies and other accessories used in the suspected crime (the creation of the youtube video and the acts depicted in the video).

  38. The raid means Jobbik’s chances of winning the Miskolc mayor’s office just jumped around 10 percent.

  39. Thank you Zorro for the link.
    I would like to grab a paragraph for those zealous Hungarians who have so much fate invested in Hamas creating a better world: “Jihadists are now sweeping across Iraq and Syria, wiping out Christians and other minorities. As the Lebanese writer Hanin Ghaddar noted this week: the Lebanese historian Kemal Salibi once observed that “it is Christian Arabs who keep the Arab world ‘Arab’ rather than ‘Muslim’ ” and “have played a vital role in defining a secular Arab cultural identity.” Now, she said, “the region seems to be going back to tribalism, as if a century of intellectual awakening and secular ideas are being erased and our identities are evaporating.”

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