Monday, January 05, 2015

A Bloom for the Arab Spring

The right people are finally asking the question, "why do they hate us?"

It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible! ...

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

That was Egypt's president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Wow. How Islamophobic, eh? But he speaks the truth. A "green line" around the borders of Islam is aflame, which creates that problem for the rest of the world.

When a leader of Egypt is not trying to legitimize his rule by appealing to a tame form of Islamist fervor to compete with the lunatic Islamists who want to establish a Taliban-like or ISIL-like government, that is good news.

I have not lost hope for the Arab Spring. Success is slow in coming, and by no means guaranteed (and it can go backwards, as we've seen), but it is a long project.

It gave me hope that those who marched in the streets in 2011 against autocratic rulers did not call for Islamist governance as the alternative. However much they did not know what "democracy" means, with all the rule of law that is implied in that term, they associated it with good things and wanted to try it and see if it could do better than military-backed rulers or mosque-backed rulers.

I said at the time that we have to teach them how to elect good men. That is, the process of democracy with that rule of law is the key part to reform and not the choice of any particular ruler.

And reforming Islam itself so that the fanatics become an even smaller part of the ummah which the majority can safely marginalize without being afraid of opposing them or having some sympathy for their goals if not their methods, is a key part of allowing a process of electing leaders who will not give Islam a bad name in the rest of the world. If the fanatics are allowed to define who the "good" men are, there is no hope.

The ground of the Arab Spring is surely rocky and difficult to cultivate. But the same can be said for every other part of the world that has made the long transition to rule of law and democracy. The notion that Arabs are incapable of living in a democracy is just ridiculous.

And if anybody but leftists who say that to undermine our efforts to fight he Long War said it, it would be considered racist.

We must not stop helping reformers make these fragile shoots bloom. Fighting the jihadis "over there" until Moslems can do so is one major thing we can do to make sure that we don't have to fight an endless war that erodes our civil liberties "over here".

UPDATE: The news media has missed this story. And this is the first I've heard of another bloom, in Bahrain. Tip to Instapundit for both.

New growth will die if kept in the dark.