Wednesday, December 21, 2005


It May Take A War
Hat tip Big Pharaoh

Also see Egyptian Person's great post When People Are the Source of Dictatorship

  • It's certainly a negative thing to have a totalitarian regime that oppresses its people. It's even worse to have a society in which the people themselves oppress their fellow citizens if they choose to have opinions that contradicts to what the majority believes in. But it is definitely a disaster to have both, because it seems that you can't fix one you without fixing the other, and at the same time it is almost impossible to fix both simultaneously.I read two news articles recently that show how the people in Egypt oppress their fellow citizens, or even think they don't have the right to be citizens, just because they choose to be different than the rest of the herd.

Algerian blogger Nouri has very insightful comments on how he thinks we, Arab countries, will one day or another learn it the hard way.

I had a phone conversation a few weeks ago with an older friend of mine, I'm going to call him Tahar, who is from Algeria. He goes to university in America. His family is good friends with mine, and we were friends when we were younger. I hadn't spoken with him for many years prior to this discussion. We met at a restaurant in my town, and had dinner and talked and caught up with each other. Tahar is not as much like me as most of my Arab friends. He is much more Americanized, and he is generally speaking irreligious.

But he has an understanding of politics, he and I share similar opinions about democracy, especially about how it would come about in most Muslim countries, that is only after the people have stared Islamism square in the face, or, as in many cases, stared at Islamism through the opposite end of the barrel of a gun. We discussed Algeria and its troubles and its pleasures.

When our conversation had degraded to us going back and forth, each of us naming a different relative who died during the war (this was after a lot of food and after he had some alcohol in him), he asked me, "What is with Arabs, that we kill each other so easily?"

"How do you get around Islam?" he asked, as if I knew this. You can't get around Islam. It's just not possible, it's a part of the culture, and so deeply engrained in the society that any effort to take it out can only be at best half-assed. Islamism is what has to be gotten around I said.

We sat and pondered that.

"There is no way out," Tahar finally said after almost ten minutes of eating without speaking.

"No, it is everywhere. Look at Egypt and Iraq. They are all this way. I think we're going to have to accept it."

"Not necessarily," I started.

"Yes, necessarily," he snapped "What the Turks did will never work with Arabs."

I hadn't even thought of Attaturk.

"Listen to me," I began again, "Algeria is not like Iraq anymore and it isn't like Afghanistan. Things are better there now. The girls aren't looking like ghosts all the time and there are music groups singing without fear. Algeria was not defeated Tahar. It's not an Islamic Republic. It doesn't have to be that way."
"Why isn't Algeria like that?" we started back up.

"Because Algerians know what Islamism is all about. It isn't abstract for them, it's totally concrete. It's misery and violence, and that's all. That's the fact of it on the ground, thirteen years of bearded bullies. Nobody wants to go back to that," I told him.

"Yeh," he said, his accent was coming out, "I agree."

We went on eating. Tahar asked me "How many wars will it take?" .... "For this stuff to go away, I mean, how many civil wars? Botched elections?"

"A lot."

There don't have to wars. There can be corrupt regimes, like in Iran. It doesn't really matter, which. But the fact is that Islamists governments and groups quickly discredit themselves when given the opportunity. They have not once, when put in a position of authority and responsibility or when they have been pit against an "enemy," to be effective in any endevor outside of making the lives of their "constituencies" miserable.

I was reminded of this conversation today when I read a post at Michel J. Totten's blog, about a meeting he had with the Big Pharaoh in which he states the following:

  • “A friend of mine recently went to Algeria,” he said. “When he came back he told me that there are far fewer veiled women there than there are here. It is much more liberal in Algeria because there they have tasted Islamism. Egypt does need to experience what happened in Iran and Algeria…as long as I am in the U.S. or Canada when it happens.”
We shouldn't take this to mean that the Big Pharaoh think his country "needs" to be tortured by masked heathens with meat cutters. What I think he's really getting at is that if Egypt wants democracy, it's going to take a war or some sort of theocratic regime to discredit Islamism and fundamentalism so that liberalism and moderation can take hold. It will, unless something divine intervines, have to learn about Islamism the hard way, especially if the state continues to behave like it has during these last elections and if the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood continues to rise, which seems to be the most probable turn of events.

As sad as it may be, many Muslims and many Arabs will learn the hard way. The Iraqis will likely learn about this disease like Algeria and Lebanon did and Iran is learning, as will Egypt, Syria and other countries that seem to believe that they so badly want an "Islamic state."


At 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what Tahar is saying is that these muslim nations need to hit bottom before they can rise up. People so easily live in denial untill it hits them hard and they hit bottom.

PS_ I hope for Turkeys sake Ataturks ghost comes back to every turk, because with Erdogan they seem headed for sharia.

Lives in Turkey.

At 9:47 PM, Blogger Scorekeeper said...

At Big Pharaoh's post that's basically what I said here.


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