The fact that there are forces using sectarian sentiments in our societies to fuel a proxy war meant to serve certain interests of theirs does not mean that sectarianism is an external invention. In fact, insisting that sectarianism is a foreign invention will prevent us from dealing with it effectively, and will only serve to perpetrate it, thus, giving external dabblers powers a permanent tool which they can use to their advantage in times of crisis.
The fact that sectarian realities often lie dormant and are seldom discussed in times of peace is not an indication of their absence. If they were absent or irrelevant, why did the ruling regimes in both Iraq and Syria insist on using members of certain communities to man key units and positions in their armies and security apparatuses and to control other state institutions? And why was it so easy for these regimes to stoke sectarian sentiments when troubles loomed over the horizons?
There is something here, an underlying reality that we need to discuss. Our continued silence in this regard, and our downright denial on occasions, come as indications of how deep the malaise is. Whether our hesitation points to a lack of confidence, a crisis of faith, a lack of an alternate worldview that we can identify with, and/or a lack of trustworthy cadres of intellectuals and other public figures who are able to rise to the challenge of modernizing our sense of identity and belonging is a question to which we need to find an answer soon. Our very survival as a people with a specific sense of identity is at stake.