The Arab renaissance has fallen flat on its Islamic face.
It looks like the Arab Spring will be followed by an Arab Winter. On second thought, this is a development that was entirely predictable: The Islamists are going to inherit the mantle of the dictators.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muammar Gadhafi in Libya were corrupt dictators who outlived their days. They all suppressed the Islamic movements in their respective countries, and were all thus on the side of the seculars in their own perverse way. The same holds true for Syria’s Bashar Assad, whose father, Hafez, killed some 20,000 people in the city of Hama in 1982, quelling a rebellion by the Moslem Brothers. Now, his son, Bashar, no less ruthless, seems to be about to go the way of Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gadhafi.
The demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt were initially led by secular groups – educated youngsters adept at using the Internet, Facebook and Twitter. In Egypt, they stood shoulder to shoulder with members of the Coptic Christian community, which constitutes 10% of the Egyptian population. Quite naturally, they called for the downfall of Mubarak to be followed by democratic elections. The motley crew in Libya that overthrew Gadhafi was supported by the democracies that make up NATO, and it is unimaginable that the bloodbath that rid the country of the “mad dog of the Middle East,” as former U.S. President Ronald Reagan called him, would not be followed by democratic elections – even under the chaotic conditions that followed Gadhafi’s downfall.
But who is going to win the elections when they take place – in Egypt, in Libya and eventually in Syria?
We already have a preview: In Tunisia, the country that had been the most secular and westernized of the Arab states, the election was won by Ennahda, the Islamic party, with the advocates of a secular Tunisia left far behind.
More previews of coming attractions: Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, Libya’s interim leader, has affirmed that country’s Islamic fundamentalism and promised more Sharia. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis, two of the biggest cutthroats in Egypt, won the first round of elections, and if anyone believes that they won’t impose even more brutal Sharia Law, I’ve got oceanfront property for sale in Arizona. The Brotherhood also held a rally in Cairo and announced their goal to “one day kill all Jews”. And to underscore Islam’s respect for women, female reporters have been sexually assaulted.
In a region of the world saturated with hard-core muslim zealots, it’s not hard to predict what kind of change they want to make. When it comes to rights in Arab countries, women, Christians, and Jews aren’t usually included.
These revolutions will produce worse regimes than the last. It’s not in the DNA of muslims to encourage democracy over a theocracy run by clerics who preach hate, terrorism, and Sharia law in the name of allah. Think of what happened when the Taliban took over Afghanistan. Beheadings and floggings became commonplace for minor transgressions against Islam. Music, television, and the Internet were banned. Men were forced to wear beards, women were forced to wear head-to-toe Burqas, and they were beaten if they did not comply. Girls were forbidden to attend school. Women were prohibited from working outside the home or being in public without a male relative. Those who did were beaten or shot, by officers of the “ministry for the protection of virtue and prevention of vice.”
Congratulations, ragheads. You’ve gone from bad to worse.