Misperceptions of the Arab Spring
After successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt this year, Western media almost unanimously characterized protesters in the Arab Spring as "pro-democracy protesters" with no shades of gray. Any opposition to the existing regimes -- whether in Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco -- was hurriedly classified as part of the democratic camp, with very little analysis of their specific ideologies or nuances.
The real problem is that many of these incidents are emblematic of a more profound epidemic: the rise of political Islam and the re-Islamization of societies across the Muslim and Arab world.
This epidemic, moreover, is being spread by some of the West's myopic characterization of the Arab Spring in the mythical belief that anyone opposed to Mubarak, Qaddafi, Saleh, Ben Ali, and Assad is of the same liberal democratic camp we like to embrace. Offshoots of Al-Qaeda have been found on the front lines fighting alongside Libya's Benghazi-based rebels against Qaddafi's forces, while Yemen, the region's least governable country, has recently seen countless Islamic militant takeovers in the country's southern provinces.
While the planning for elections in Egypt has shown a number of wholesome developments, such as the legalization of political parties and dismemberment of the former repressive state apparatus, under the veneer of democracy that seems to resonate so well with West, the Muslim Brotherhood's [MB] theocratic and undemocratic agenda has been eclipsed by the mainstream media's focus on "pro-democracy activists." Despite the MB's consolidated and organized nature, which could mean a parliamentary domination -- if not now, later, as with Hezbollah in Lebanon -- not enough people have expressed concern about the possibility of such an outcome.
Sobhi Saleh, for example, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, elected by the Egyptian supreme council to partake in the constitutional amendment process, publicly announced that Brotherhood men should marry only Brotherhood women as -- in his eyes, at least -- they are superior to other Egyptian Muslim women. He also started calling secular Egyptians atheists. So much for tolerance and the supposed "moderation" that many commentators have seen in the Muslim Brotherhood.
Although people may argue that Saleh is not representative of the Brotherhood, some events are worth recalling: After Mubarak's overthrow in February, the MB, seeking to alleviate the fears of secularists and liberals, proclaimed it would contest only 30 percent of seats in parliament, and not run a candidate for president. Recently, however, the percentage of seats the MB said it would contend rose to 50, and several members, such as Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, announced their presidential candidacy – an apparent testament to the Brotherhood's desire for increasing political clout.
There are other alarming concerns. Not only has the Muslim Brotherhood clearly announced its goal of Islamic statehood and imposing sharia law -- its members claim the Koran is their constitution -- but there is also some ambiguity about how exactly the MB will incorporate political Islam as a civil code. Despite public reassurances of moderation within the MB, it seems clear that this theocratic group is seriously divided and cannot be dealt with as a monolithic political party. The schisms in the MB are particularly frightening as many members turn to extremism, which could seriously derail the revolution, especially through the ballot box.
Other events that deserve attention include waves of violence, incited by conservative Salafi Muslims, that have killed dozens of Christians and wounded hundreds – foretelling a precarious future for Egypt's Coptic minority. In March, members of the Egypt's Coptic community were persecuted by fundamentalists; Coptic churches were burnt down. Salafi members, inspired by the extremist Wahhabism exported by Saudi Arabia, amputated the ear of a Copt, Ayman Anwar Mitri, and torched his apartment – a punishment for having rented out his unoccupied home to a Muslim woman.
People argue that Salafis, as they believe democracy is un-Islamic in that it gives power to the people rather than God, are not political, and that they therefore do not pose a significant threat to post-revolutionary Egypt. This is just a wish. Egyptian Salafis have long realized that the shortcut to establishing an Islamic caliphate is through elections. They have even joined the MB in support of the March constitutional referendum proposed by the military junta, and have claimed they will cooperate with the MB in introducing a number of Islamist candidates for the next parliamentary elections. This alliance is deeply problematic and could easily derail Egypt's fledgling experience with democracy.
Although the Arab Spring is promising and may introduce democracy to a region once thought of as resistant to change, it is crucial now to side with the pro-democracy protesters – but with composure and reservation. The West needs to look closely at the complexities and nuances within their political ideologies, rather than paint a picture of "good vs. evil," or " democracy vs. authoritarianism." The picture has more shades of gray than first seems. While some of the uprisings in the Arab Spring have promising democratic leanings, other groups lurking in the background, waiting to emerge, might not have such liberal democratic intentions.
If the West is not cautious about the groups and individuals who are seeking to hijack these unprecedented changes, the Arab Spring with the help of the West, will usher in only an irreversible, dark winter: a step back not just for the Arab world but for the whole world.
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by Soeren Kern
Hamas would likely resort to violence to thwart any attempts to disarm the group. It is therefore highly unlikely the Europeans would confront Hamas in any meaningful way.
Spanish intelligence agents met secretly with Hezbollah operatives, who agreed to provide "escorts" to protect Spanish UNIFIL patrols. The quid pro quo was that Spanish troops would look the other way while Hezbollah was allowed to rearm for its next war with Israel. Hezbollah's message to Spain was: mind your own business.
If the European experience with Hezbollah in Lebanon is any indication, not only will Hamas not be disarmed, it will be rearmed as European monitors look on and do nothing.
What is clear is that European leaders have never been committed to honoring either the letter or the spirit of UN Resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701, all of which were aimed at preventing Hezbollah from rearming.
by Debalina Ghoshal
According to former Bush administration official Stephen Rademaker, for the United States to respond to Russian violations of the treaty by pulling out of it would be "welcome in Moscow," which is "wrestling with the question of how they terminate [the treaty]" and thus, the United States should not make it easier for the Russians to leave.
by Guy Millière
Belgian security services have estimated that the number of European jihadists in Syria may be over 4000.
European leaders have directed their nastiest comments against the Jewish state, none of them has asked why Palestinian organizations in Gaza put their stockpiles of weapons in hospitals, homes, schools and mosques, or their command and control centers at the bottom of large apartment buildings or underneath hospitals. None of them has even said that Hamas is a terrorist organization despite its genocidal charter.
The majority of them are wedded to the idea of redistribution. Their policies are anti-growth, do not afford people any economic opportunity, and are what caused these economic crises in Europe in the first place. The United States seems to be following these thoroughly failed policies as well.
"Europe could not stay the same with a different population in it." — Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.
by Raymond Ibrahim
"I abducted your girls. I will sell them on the market, by Allah... There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell." — Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram.
Hillary Clinton repeatedly refused to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization.
In Malaysia -- regularly portrayed in the West as a moderate Muslim nation -- any attempt to promote religions other than Islam is illegal.
"The reason they want to kill me is very clear -- it is because of being a convert to Christianity." — Hassan Muwanguzi, Uganda.
by Dexter Van Zile
Rev. Hanna Massad does not mention that perhaps Hamas actually wants the blockade to end so it can bring in more weapons and cement to build attack-tunnels so it can "finish the job."
Hamas does not just admit to using human shields, it brags about using human shields. Why does Massad have to inject an air of uncertainty about Hamas's use of human shields when no such uncertainty exists?
The problem is that any self-respecting journalist would confront Massad with a follow-up question about Hamas's ideology and violence, but not the folks at Christianity Today.