The Sand Curtain, Two Years Later (or is it 20?)

Islamists being among the fiercest enemies of democracy, you certainly can't defeat them with a permanent denial of democracy, particularly when they've claimed some level of legitimacy in elections. So if no true supporter of democracy can be fully satisfied by Egypt's sudden demorsification, one can hope lessons from Algeria have been learned.

Regional and global terrorism feed upon this kind of shell games and actually, Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb celebrates the merger of the islamist movement that was prevented from winning the 1991 elections in Algeria* with a global franchise whose main theorician and now main leader happens to come from Egypt. And people like Ayman al-Zawahiri loves to have enemies like Hosni Mubarak or Adbelaziz Bouteflika (not to mention the Saudi ruling family, Bibi Netanyahu or, even better, George W. Bush**).

So today, as Abdelaziz Bouteflika reaches the end of his rope, Mohamed Morsi the end of his luck, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan the end of his imposture***, the moment has come to make very clear the point that was at the core of the Egyptian revolution, before the Muslim Brotherhood hijacked it: "we reject as false the choice between dictatorship and fundamentalism"****.

And again, this should not become a debate about religion, but about politics. And again, secularism is the only way of securing both democracy and freedom of religion. One of the best illustrations is the ban of Burqa in France - a case I discussed with Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawi back in June 2009*****.

Egypt cannot secure its democracy until it states clearly the separation of State and religion (of course the same could be said about any country, be it Iran or Israel). And ultimately, the Muslim Brotherhood will have to chose between democracy and illegality.

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* from Front Islamique du Salut (FIS) and Groupe Islamique Arme (GIA) to Groupe Salafiste pour la Predication et le Combat (GSPC) to Al Qaeda au Maghreb Islamique (AQMI)

** see "Universal Declaration of Independence from Fundamentalism":

Like fascism, fundamentalism feeds from the failures of democracy, from the intolerable gaps between peoples kept in poverty and underdevelopment on one hand, and rich corrupt regimes on the other. "Ideally", people must be fed up with their rulers, and not believe anymore in the rules supposed to hold the society altogether. An ailing dictatorship will provide a perfect background, but the fundamentalists' best moments come when self-proclaimed model democracies give the worst examples to the world.

(...) For fundamentalists from all religions, George W. Bush turned out to be the best person at the best place at the best moment. His strategy should look like a total failure to whoever considers the Iraq quagmire, the Palestinian fiasco, or the worldwide surge in terror. But to the contrary, Bush's strategy proved a complete success.

Because George W. Bush didn't act as a President of The United States of America in the interest of his country. And George W. Bush didn't even act as a Republican in the interest of his party. George W. Bush acted as a fundamentalist in the interest of fundamentalism".

*** see "Turquie : la révolution silencieuse" (20070723 on my French blogules):

Turkey: the Silent Revolution

Coupled with the rise of extreme right nationalism (14% for the MHP) and the strenghtening of Kurdish nationalism (again over 20 lawmakers for the DTP), Recep Tayyip Erdogan's triumph (the AKP claimerd over half of the votes) only leaves twenty something percent of the vote to the main republican party. And when one sees this CHP cling to a caricature of edulcorated kemalism, one can wonder if Turkey has not turned its back for good on its ideal of secular democracy.

As expected, the pressures from Western Christian fundamentalists on Turkey only beefed up islamists and nationalists, marginalizing the true heralds of a model democracy. 

Erdogan won because of his economic results and because of the irrelevance of his opponents. And if he remains hindered by an aging military clique, his islamist revolution is well under way, and time is on his side (like demographics).

Turkey is asserting itself as a new model combining economic modernity and religious archaism where woman is progressively sidelined, where the Bilim Arastirma Vakfi (BAV) can freely spread its creationist theses, and where change is implemented from the bottom up through socio-religious pressure more efficiently than through a law that will eventually be altered - if not the letter of the law, at least the acts.

Turkey's candidacy for EU membership is now taking the turn that all the enemies of democracy wanted: a forum - La candidature à l'Europe prend désormais toute la saveur qu'attendaient d'elle les ennemis de la démocratie : un forum - amplifier for all the hatred and fears they've been knowledgeably feeding for years.

European voters must reject this parody of a debate, punish those who deliberately pour oil on the fire, and refuse the 'clash of civilizations' imposture. Let's send to our Turkish friends a message of exemplary nature by rejecting as anti-democratic the return of religion in the political debate. Starting with the debate about the integration of Turkey in Europe.

**** see "Sand curtain" (2011/02)

"(...) Of course, nature abhors a vacuum, and fundamentalists would love to step in to fill the ideology void. At this defining moment, most people on the street seem to reject as false the choice between dictatorship and fundamentalism, but most people on the street prefer order to chaos, and uncertainty shouldn't last too long.

Israel nervously watches as Jordanian and Egyptian regimes falter under popular pressure. Muslim friends who could turn enemies, with the benediction of Iran, whose own corrupt regime postponed its ineluctable fall by a few years by crushing popular uprisings at home. Unfortunately, these days, Israeli leaders seem to position themselves as a corrupt regime with some ideology. Not a dictatorship, mind you, but not a bunch of nice guys either.

Barack Obama is a nice guy. Unfortunately, these days, the US leader doesn't seem to be in charge of foreign policy, so huge is the gap between what he says and what the US do. And the poor lad doesn't have one Gorbachev to call if he wants that sand curtain torn down...

So what's ahead ? Probably trouble and uncertainties, but somehow this transitional period has started after WWII and independence wars, and we're closer to the end than from the beginning. Something new will emerge and eventually, something positive. Societies freed from political and religious deviances. Hopefully, the time has come for a true Muslim renaissance.

Right now, most dictators across the globe must have gotten some kind of message. But even supposedly strong democracies should be thinking twice when they applaud successful local uprisings or self-determination processes like in South Sudan : what is a nation in this globalized world, what will be holding its members together in this networked millenium ?

More than ever, each individual will reach for the universal (as a human being), and the personal (identity)."

***** following the post "France, secularism and burqa : a political issue, not a religious one" (200906)

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