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Michael Devolin

Beware an Arab Spring
By Michael Devolin
Sep 9, 2011 - 12:23:30 PM

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Neil J. Kressel writes, "For many Westerners, it has become difficult to consider Islam apart from the images of violence and hostility it evokes." With the so-called Arab Spring in full bloom all across the Middle East and North Africa, from Egypt to Libya to Syria and beyond, the media is having a field day with these new wars, erroneously displaying these events as a sort of political reform movement being fulfilled by primarily young Muslim protestors--as though these civil wars are nothing more than salubrious affairs of state. I don't view these tumultuous events as political reform toward a better and more democratic future but rather as an Islamic religious expansionism drawing back into the past and away from contemporaneity.

The CBC reported today that Western leaders are now worried about Libyan rebels gaining possession of one of Gaddafi's arms caches and the dangers posed should this military weaponry be given into the hands of terrorists. I am humored by the fact that the CBC indicated no acknowledgement of the fact that many of these rebels, and presumably a majority of the leadership, are Islamists to begin with.

The existence of Islamists within these so-called "nationalist" movements is being ignored by the Western media who are instead portraying these civil wars (and this is what they are) as noble stratagems aimed at establishing democratic rule in what were previously Islamic dictatorships. Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember how far into modernity "democratic elections" propelled the Palestinians of Gaza: Muslim voters there elected--by a majority vote--the terrorist entity Hamas to rule over them. I foresee the Islamists being transitioned into power by a similar Muslim "majority vote," in places like Syria and Libya and Egypt, etc. This is how "democracy" works in the Muslim world: the only freedom acquired in these types of elections is the freedom to practice extremist Islam at the expense of all other faiths and freedoms.

One has only to study the recent history of the Muslim Middle East in order to understand how "political reform" movements begin and end in that part of the world. Martin Gilbert recounts in his book Israel that during the 1950s alone, General Ali Razmara of Iran was assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists, Lebanese Prime Minister Riad Bey e-Solh was assassinated by a Syrian extremist national group, King Abdullah of Jordan was assassinated by a Palestinian extremist, and King Farouk of Egypt was deposed by his own army officers. I cannot see how this Arab Spring of the 1950s is any different than the Arab Spring now unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa. Both display the same "images of violence and hostility." Western journalists like to pretend, I guess, that the many years passing between then and now have seen great changes in the way politically motivated Muslims of the Middle East articulate their opposition to ruling heads of state. For the Islamists, however, this opposition is merely their "vote" for extremist Islam, as opposed to any measure of not only Western style democracy, but also any measure of "nationalist" sentiment. As Neil J. Kressel points out, "The Islamic solution is a time honored one. As nearly all analysts have noted, present-day fundamentalists can cite a long history of revivalism when things go awry." Or as Bernard Lewis puts it, "There is a recurring tendency in times of crisis, in times of emergency, when the deeper loyalties take over, for Muslims to find their basic identity in the religious community; that is to say, in an entity defined by Islam rather than by ethnic origin, language, or country of habitation." Fatima Mernissi of Morocco, a political and theological scholar, presciently remarks that "the break with the medieval state, which used the sacred to legitimize and mask arbitrary rule, never took place in the Arab world."

The truth of the matter is, sadly, that nothing has changed in the way most Muslims of the Middle East (and beyond) voice their opposition to those whom they believe are unacceptable to their personal political and religious beliefs. King Abdullah was murdered because he admitted publicly to his admiration for how the Jews of Israel had "colonized the sand dunes, drawn water from them, and transformed them into a paradise." Anti-Jewish hatred has been prevalent in every "Arab Spring" simply because anti-Jewish hatred is one of the primary driving forces of Islam. A king or a prime minister or a dictator is not a good Muslim if he does not hate Israel and the Jews vehemently; nor are they good Muslims if they even hint at an approval of the existence of the State of Israel in the Middle East. This would be contrary to the Islamic polity these Islamists are gunning for in their civil wars.

One does not need to be an expert to know that this present Arab Spring is not a salubrious occasion for the Western world. Already we hear that the Libyan rebels refuse to extradite the notorious "Lockerbie bomber." Libya's National Transitional Council's Justice Minister defiantly told reporters in Tripoli that "Al-Megrahi has already been judged once and he will not be judged again." This is an example of the present Arab Spring: known terrorists are become Islam's heroes; the Western powers that assisted the rebel cause will again be referred to in their newspapers as so much filth because of the chaos that is sure to follow our withdrawal from the conflict (as happened in Iraq after the American-led invasion there). The same bloody disaster will repeat itself in Syria, even if Assad refuses to relinquish leadership of the country. At least Assad is honest enough to admit that Islamists are behind the "Arab Spring" now gathering momentum in his country, that the protestors are not just a bunch of young, idealistic and politically motivated university students.

The Arab Spring taking place in Syria and Libya and Egypt and beyond is an Islamist revival and nothing more. There will not be any good or any democracies come of this so-called revolution. There will be, however, a greater potential for Islamist terrorists attacking Western civilian targets. Beware an Arab Spring!

Michael Devolin


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