Arab Spring Springs A Leak
Arab Spring may be springing a leak by the standards of the West, when it comes to freedom, and as reported by the media as the objective of the dominantly youthful residents of the middle-east. If the people of those Muslim countries previously controlled by tyrants, to included Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, possibly Yemen, Syria and others, want a government, religion, and civilian law system united and governed by the Quran, or Islamic Law, then so be it. That is their choice. What is our complaint if they choose (freely) something other than the freedom we enjoy in the West?
Libya, Tunisia, Egypt
In Libya the Saudis are prepared to provide billions of dollars to help this country restore itself. It comes, it is expected, with conditions. The preferred condition is the nature of the laws that will be imposed on the populace. Influence for dollars is the key. The situation will remain volatile for a while. There are many factions in play, along with many stores of all kinds of weapons. Jockeying for control or leadership or positions of prominence will surely occur. Islamists will be supported by the Saudi’s. Qataris in the picture too – probable supporters of the Islamists also. Two years have been put out there for transition. Will it be to a democracy? The head of the transition council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, has already made mention that the ‘basic source’ of legislation and laws will be Islamic (Sharia). All parties and tribes have their own conditions. Are there enough secularists or pro-western factions that can insure policies structured for the ‘common good’, the good of all persons in Libya, Muslim or not, will happen. Or will we soon see headscarves required for all women, a return to polygamy, and restrictive laws against non-Muslims fill the halls of the government, military and police that evolve to oversee this newly released country from the tyrannical and self-exploiting throws of Gaddafi?
On Sunday October 23, 2011 elections were held in Tunisia. The place where the Arab Spring sprung held elections where a turnout reported of as much as 70% took place. A new constitution will be written by those elected to seats in the assembly (217). The Ennahda, a previously banned group of Islamists, has captured many seats, although not a majority. They will call for more Islamic Law and less of a secular government. This tourism rich country has suffered since the revolution, but most are hoping there will be a return to stability sufficient to encourage sun-seeking Europeans a return to the beaches of Tunisia. Will the freedoms enjoyed before revolution in Tunisia be expanded or a reversal to more restrictive Islamic practices occur?
Elections are still a way-off in Egypt. Those that fought for release from the hold of Mubarak by camping out in Tarir Square for an extended period await their opportunity to cast a ballot for an assembly to re-write Egypt’s constitution. In the interim the military, the historic strength of this country, has provided order, peace and governance. Recent riots by Coptic Christians and killings of innocent non-Muslims have suggested an increased violent thread towards non-Muslims, more than before the revolution, without appropriate response by the authorities. Is this a sign that the Muslim Brotherhood, held at bay by Mubarak, is already having an influence on the thinking inside the walls of what will become the government of Egypt?
The young, the youth of Libya, Iran, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Turkey and many other predominately Muslim countries have Tweeted and committed comments to Facebook, along with iPhone and Blackberry texting, to engender the uprisings and the fall of dictators the world has observed. They have not been universally successful, the prime example Iran, as the combined totalitarian and religious authorities have quelled any attempt using special forces and palace guards to incarcerate or otherwise remove dissent or dissenters.
The freedom sought as a minimum is free uninhibited access to the ballot box to choose those who will lead and by what means they will govern. Where the objective of freedom is made clear by the young, will they be compromised, better still hijacked, by the remnants of previous regimes whose enjoyment of past spoils continues to temp them for more. With their stature and importance upgraded will they then digress to the pattern of the past.
The temptations of wealth and power may be sufficient to overcome the scenes of removal of tyrants from below ground wells and subsequent hanging, extracting once jewel bedecked robe encased rulers from culverts, shot and displayed mostly nude in a freezer, military capture and air to sea burials of highly regarded Islamists, and trials by hateful prosecutors with few peers in the jury. The people must keep watch over their leaders. Do not grant them the means to alter their ability to modify constitutions for their benefit, as they will.
What the West wants for all people is free elections. Allow the people of any given nation or country to vote their will for how they are governed. The preference is for the continuation of voting rights on a scheduled basis, be it every two or four years, so that, should people change their minds, not liking what they are experiencing, changes can occur. When change is not possible, when the leadership takes it upon themselves to make the country their own, their personal fiefdom or religious sanctuary, when the people in power abuse their privileges, enrich themselves and their families financially, cater to their supporters and friends to the detriment of the people as a whole, then the people need a form of recourse other than revolution. That is the ballot box. Preserve the ballot box and the freedom to vote without restraint. Then the West will acquiesce. Why not? But if revolution is what is required, we know what people can do.
Islamic Law is not possible in America without significant changes to our Constitution. The Constitution would require a re-write; the most extensive alteration would be to freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Neither is possible in a Sharia compliant nation. Freedom of religion would only be if that religion is Islam. Freedom of Speech would exclude any commentary considered by the authorities (or religious scholars) negative towards the Quran, call it persecution, or doubts that could influence others. In America we must be cognizant of any attempts to modify our laws to enable Sharia creep. Political correctness has already gone to far, in my view, towards appeasing Islamists, in turn mitigating freedoms we enjoy of expressing our opinions and raising doubt and concerns.
Let American’s voices always be heard. Even the arrogant, obtuse, incorrigible, intractable, and wrong-headed voices need to be heard, both liberal and conservative. All we can ask for, however, is an open-mind to hearing others, listening, and countering with cogent responses. And as for the media, they must not be of an opinion, unless so stated, but simply report facts and provide information, fully vetted, fully assured of correctness. That is also the case for our educational system. We can only pray that the idea of ‘fair and balanced’ be practiced on campuses of colleges and universities, regulated and expressed in the classrooms. The classroom cannot become a platform for an opinionated, tenured liberal or conservative. Students are to be taught how to think, not what to think. Provide both sides of an issue and allow the debates and discussions to begin.
Stop the Leak
The leak occurring in the Arab Spring can only be stopped by those drinking from the well. Do not let others steal the water of a future where all voices of all people are of equal importance, merited and respected. Do not let the Spring be diverted or damned. Fight for free elections at all times. Secularism is better than Islamism if the common good of all is important. Individuals must speak up and be heard.
We pray that God will bestow his blessings on those liberated from tyranny. We pray they will continue to fight to maintain an open forum where all voices can be heard. We pray that men and women will enjoy equality and respect each others wishes and ideas. We pray the youth in the middle-east will be independent of their cultures and say what needs to be said to allow peace, plurality and common sense to prevail.
Grace and Peace