The Arab Spring was not about “Sharia” or “Secularism”

24 01 2013

Dr. Moncif Elmarzooki, President of Tunisia is correct when he stated in an interview in Asharq Al-Awsat (23/12/2013) and I rephrase, that the Arab Spring was not about Sharia or about ethnicity, sectarianism and nationalism, it has every thing to do with liberty, civil rights, freedoms, end of a police state and freedom from economic deprivations, corruption and dysfunctional state, decent life with full rights of citizenship.

This was the case in Tunisia, in Libya, in Egypt, in Yemen, certainly in Syria. US supported if not sponsored “secular” governments ruled with blood and iron, jailing and executing opposition, disfranchising large segment of the population in favor a ruling party and elite that looted the countries and rendered the nations of divided, those inside jails and those outside, those with a life style that many dreams of and a majority living in dire poverties.

In Tunisia as it was in Egypt, in Libya and in Yemen, it was not the “Islamists” who lead the revolution and took to the streets, forcing ruling dictatorship out of office. It was the young, mostly educated who lead the charge against oppressions and the state security forces and corrupt incompetent governments. Sharia, Isalmizations and “secularism” of the nations was not the driving force behind the success achieved by the people as they took to the streets breaking the wall of fear and defying bullets, and water cannons.

Over the last year or so I have been following, many writers and opinion makers and their analysis of the Arab Spring with views ranging from a “conspiracy by the US and the West against “nationalistic governments” as some claims the case in Syria and Libya, while others mostly “Islamists” claim the Arab Spring was all about “virtues and Islamic value systems” with many “liberals” in the West claiming it was an international conspiracy. With all due respect to all views, the Arab Spring was all about freedoms, civil liberties, dictatorship, failing government institutions, disfranchising majority of people. It was all about the rights of “citizenship” since people in most if not all the Arab world are referred to as “subjects” but never “citizens” with its wide ranging meaning.

Arab “nationalists and secularists” on the one hand are worried that the emerging powerful “Islamists” movements will change the nature of the state from a “nationalist and secular” to an “Islamistist and religious” and as part of the “Ummah”. This is at a time when these “Arab nationalists and secularists” disfranchised” important segments of the populations that are not “Arabs” such is the case in North Africa and in Iraq, failing to recognize the unique and enriching diversity of the “Arab” world with its Arabs, Berbers, Kurds not to mentions Christians, Jews, and others.

“Islamists” are moving now toward committing the same mistakes. By insisting on the “religious/Islamic” nature of the state they are disfranchising a substantial part of the nation who are Non-Muslims and “secularists” who do not adhere to the nature of an “Islamization” of the state or the institutionalization of the “Sharia” but believe in the “civil” nature of the state where citizens are equal in rights, opportunities and duties irrespective of ethnicity, faith, and gender, and as citizens of the state and not members of a “sectarian community” be it Muslim, Christians or Jewish. “Islamists” are unfortunately leading these states toward divisions and “sectarianism”.

Both sides, “Islamists” and “Secularists/Nationalists” are simply forgetting why the Arab Spring came about, freedom, civil liberties, economic reforms, educations, opportunities, and poverty. Most if not all of the people (Muslims. Christians and Jews) are true believers but they too want “Heaven” in the hereafter only, they want to live a decent life here on earth, a life of freedom from wants and poverty, a life free of fear from the knock on the door past midnight, they want respect of their rights as citizens in dealing with a chocking and frightening and discriminating “bureaucracy” that can be described as “hell on earth”, one oiled by bribery, corruption and ‘Mahsoobia”, dividing the people into those “with connections” and those “ without connections”. They want accountability and transparency from their governments and their elected officials. All of these rights have nothing to do with social virtues. It has every thing to do with “rights of citizenship”.

Religion, sectarianism, Sharia or secularism could not of itself solve or address the deep and entrenched problems of the “Arab” word from hunger, poverty, ignorance, lack of development, lack of science and technology, lack of education, lack of equal opportunities, dysfunctional bureaucracy that is main contributor to failing economies in almost all of the Arab world, certainly absence of accountability and transparency.

More than any thing else, the Arab world needs competent, honest, dedicated social, economic, educational, scientific, political leaders and competent corrupt free public servants that can bring the Arab world into the 21st century. All the money in the world will not and could not solve the problems plaguing the Arab world unless the people, the citizens take charge and do something about their own fate and future. They too have a duty and obligation to be part of the solution. They must not trust their future to “Islamists” as they trusted their fate to “secularists” but make sure the state is a “civil state” with rights of citizens to their faiths, independent of state or governing institutions.

Ps. The absence of “codifications” of Sharia allows countries, certainly groups to define it and exercise it according to its own ideology or interests.


Assault on the Arab Spring

23 12 2012

I think if the likes of Mohamed Hassanaein Haikal had the courage to speak up then as they speak now, perhaps there will be no need for an Arab Spring or a New Skyes Picot.

Mr. Haikal no doubt an intelligent man and a committed Arab Nationalist failed to do the right thing and failed to speak up when he was within the “inner circles” of the late Gamal Abdul-Nasser. The man who lead the military coup in Egypt that toppled the monarchy and who failed miserably to set the stage for the “democratization” of the Arab World.

An Arab World with free elections, political parties free and independent of military regimes, accountability, transparency, economic and educational systems that failed at every turn and of course a state and people free of the dreadful “Mokhabat” that controlled the lives of people and kept the regimes in place. But for Nasser’s failures Mubarak will be unheard of and could never qualify to be president of Egypt, nor will Bashar or Hafiz, Saddam, or Ali Saleh or Bin Ali or Qaddafi will be heard of.

The late Nasser and his inner circles set the stage for incompetent, failed Arab regimes in Yemen, in Sudan, in Syria, in Iraq, in Libya certainly in Algeria with a military that failed at winning wars (except Algeria war of independence) and setting the stage for a bloody “Arab Spring” in Libya, in Syria and of course the millions of causalities in Iraq, not to mention the failed leadership of Arafat. One can understand the frustrations of Mr. Haikal and many so called “Arab Intellectuals and nationalist” because they were and are “irrelevant” to the Arab Spring and the emerging freedoms taking place now.

These days, the “Arab Spring” is coming under assault from all sides from “Arab Nationalists” who see in it as an “American-Zionist” conspiracy and a new way for the West to divide once again the Arab World as Mr. Haikal claims to “Islamist Fundamentalists” who are hijacking the Arab Spring.

Haikal: “What happening now is not a ‘spring’ but a new ‘Sykes Picot’ to divide the Arabs”.

Nasrallah: “What Yemen, Syria and the region are witnessing is part of a Zionist-American plan of fragmentation”

More surprisingly, the Syrian Arab Spring is coming under attack and assault by the likes of Sheik Hassan Nasrallah who sees the people uprising against a criminal regime in Syria as a “conspiracy” against the “Syrian State” and the Assad regime and its claimed role of “steadfastness and resistance” of course not against Israel but against democracy and reforms in Syria.

Both Mr. Haikal and Sheik Nasrallah failed to give credit to the hundreds of thousands if not millions who took to the streets in Yemen, in Egypt, in Libya, in Syrian, in Tunisia and in Syria, demanding freedom, liberty and accountability from corrupt dictatorial regimes that oppressed the people and ruined the nations economies while looting the country through nepotism, corruption, mismanagement using the “police state” as an instrument of perpetuating their rules.

Arab intellectuals and nationalists give more credit to an insignificant almost a non-entity like Bernard Henry Levy while discounting the roles of the thousands who gave up their lives so that dictators like Qaddafi, Ben Ali, Saleh and Mubarak are out of power. The statements of Haikal and Nasrallah are an insult added to injury.

Of course on the other hand the Arab Spring was not the making of the “Salafis” nor of the Muslim Brotherhood, but the making of the people with active support and leadership of a non-political media savvy young people who with their commitments, courage breaking the wall of fears and strong commitments to the democratic process and democracy made all that happens. The Salafis and the Brothers simply road the wave and collected the fruits and rewards while those young paid dearly with their lives and because they are not well organized and well funded are now marginalized.

But for the fact that criminal ruthless leaders like Qaddafi and now Assad failed to see and recognize the people’s demand for freedom and liberty after years of oppression decided to use the military to wage war against the people and the nation we will not see the kind of menacing militias that are the main threat posing clear and present danger to the Arab Spring specially in Libya.

No one can deny the role played by these militias as those within Libya and now Syria and the brave fight they put up against criminal regimes and army, and the sacrifice they paid with their lives. However all that does not and should not justify the way they are holding the nation and people hostage as is the case in Libya and we hope it will not be the case in Syria.

If the Arab Spring is to succeed in countries such as Libya, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia and Egypt then these “Islamist fundamentalists” must give up their weapons and arms as is the case in Libya and allow the people to exercise their hard won rights to freedoms, to free speech, to free associations without having these militias and “Salafis” enforcing their will and vision of an “Islamic State” through the power of the gun and through black mail and intimidations of citizenry in the streets, in the media, and their dismissal if not abrogation’s of hard won rights for women in countries such as Tunisia.

What the Arab Spring needs most to succeed is an open democratic process that does not exclude any one based on race, ethnic origin and faith. In order for the Arab Spring to succeed it needs strong enlightened and intellectual leadership that can shape the vision for the future, establish a modern nation state where the people are the source and only source of power and constitutional powers, not the Mullah or the Militias as a substitute for the “army” or of the “mokhabartat”.
Keeping in mind democracy is a work in progress and could not be achieved over night even among the most enlightened people and nations.

The French Revolution continued for over 3 years, with more than 40,000 casualties and with “liberal assemblies” competing and fighting with “right wing” monarchists. So please give the Arab Spring a chance to find its way forward and mature.


The “Brothers” are coming, the “Brothers” are coming!

30 06 2012

Sami Jamil Jadallah

 

No, not the Brothers Karamazov but the Muslim Brothers. Any one who listens to popular media and politicians in Israel and the US would think that the Muslim Bothers are coming from Mars, invading the planet Earth, changing our ways of life and turning democracies to theocracies. Read the rest of this entry »


The Arabs; what went wrong?

24 06 2012

Sami Jamil Jadallah

 

I thought the original title “ The Failing Arabs” would be too offensive to a very proud people and nation. People who pride themselves with a rich history enriched by Islam and an Islam enriched by diverse cultures, civilizations, and faiths. The Arab world at one time was a unique and rich mosaic of cultures, faiths and civilizations and yes, success. Sadly all that disappeared. Read the rest of this entry »


Syria, in support of the revolution.

10 06 2012

By: Sami Jamil Jadallah

 

The United States never was on the side of the people of the Middle East and is the only party standing between the Palestinians and their freedom and liberation and always stood the side of criminal dictatorship as they imprisoned, tortured, suppressed freedom and democracy and looted the country. Read the rest of this entry »


The Price of Fear, the Price of Dictatorship.

9 03 2012

I grew up when there were curfews that lasted for days, when listening to the wrong radio station can land you in jail, when a stupid illiterate “security/mokhabarat” can haul you to jail for no reasons and I remember when and seen “darak” policemen on horses raid villages breaking into homes mixing rice, oil, lentil and flour in the middle of the floor. Read the rest of this entry »


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