January 30, 2011
Rached Ghannouchi Returns to Tunisia (with rant on Anti-Islamist Panic)
Exiled Ennahda party leader Rached Ghannouchi was received by enthusiastic crowd when his plane landed. Given that he is somewhat of an Islamist, apparenlty his presence doesn't count as a step towards True Democracy, in the proposals of Robert Satloff, who wants the US to sponsor a new wave of Arab democratic government which would, apparently, not allow any non-secular or at least Islamist party to participate. In other words, the same thing all over again, a Ben Ali, only with multiple parties. Rant below, on anti-Islamist Panic.
Oh no! Ghannouchi is back. Will Tunisia fall to burqitude? What if Egypt goes Islamist, the real fear that we're supposed to have? Panic! Despair! Hey our American or "Western" principles all become "democracy, shmemocracy" when there are bearded sharia-creepers around.
Folks, anti-Islamism is vastly overrated and possibly far more deadly than the condition itself. It was the reason for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (which led to the Taliban and binLaden), the rationale for decades of Western sponsoring Saddam Hussein especially in one of the region's bloodiest wars (Iran-Iraq), the cause and excuse for endless Israeli delays and repressions and ultimately unsuccessful splatterings of Lebanon, the perennial excuse of Mubarak today and Nasser yesteryear for creating generations-long vampire police states, the excuse for Ben Ali to gouge a nation, the cause of clumsy backfiring attempts by the US to influence local Pakistani politics, the reason for Syrian dictator Hafez Assad to decimate one of his own cities, a good part of the reason Lebanon slaughtered itself for years, a good part (yes!) of the reason Syria intervened in Lebanon initially, a central part of the reason the corrupt elements of the Palestinian Authority get tons of Western and even Israeli aid, the reason for the frustration of a genuine democratic regime change in Algeria which led a gruesome civil war in the 1990s.
It is the reason the US is starting to shred its time-honored constitution, set up no-charges detention camps, have popular quasi-pogroms against houses of worship, and probe the genitals of its traveling public.
All this because Khomeini made the US mad and scared, and because Israel still hasn't fathomed why the Palestinians are really pissed off, and because women and others are socially repressed in backward societies, something which happened and would happen with or without Islamism (though it has made it worse), but will unhappen with normal progress.
And anti-Islamism also becomes an excuse to sacrifice all basic principle because one briefly successful industrialized criminal Islamist Pancho Villa and crew can blow up several buildings and airplanes in intermiittent and generally unpopular among Muslims murders .
And because we can't even find him, we have to live in unprincipled and ridiculously clumsy fear of everything that reminds us of him (even when those things are quite varied in themselves or actually unrelated).
Meanwhile democracy means democracy. It's not hard.
Posted by Matthew Hogan at January 30, 2011 06:06 PM
Filed Under: EU Foreign Policy , Foreign Policy & MENA , Gender Issues , Islam & Politics , Islam General , Islamism , MENA Fringe , MENA Region General , North Africa , Political Development , Religious Minorities , Society & Culture , Terrorism , The MENA '48 , Tunisia Revolution , US Foreign Policy
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I read that article earlier. Interesting, the "discriminate democracy" expression. Reminded me of an Andalusian friend who once said that the moment you qualify democracy, it's anything but that.
The battle is within too btw concerning the Nahda. Couldn't write it better than Akyol, whose description of a Turkish phenomenon applies perfectly to Tunisia:
Yes, I agree. However uncomfortable I am with Ennahda - and I am very uncomfortable - the idea you can exclude these people from a democratic process is wrong-headed. You need something to guarantee they don't pull a coup d'etat, but after that, fair is fair.
And if their moderates are bought into the system, that helps.
(And Akyol was very interesting, we need to cite him here - his Secularist Turk could easily be Secularist Western Observers of MENA)
Posted by: The Lounsbury at February 2, 2011 06:44 PM