Your article in the summer 2011 edition of ‘Emma’ entitled ‘A Black Spring’ expresses concern about the possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood dominated government in Egypt in the future after the transition period. You conclude that the easiest aspect of the fight is with the violent jihadists; and whilst Bin laden is dead, the doctrine of jihad lives on. In another article you say: “…the gradualist approach is far more likely to win the prize of state power. All that Khomeini did before he came to power in Iran was to preach the merits of a society based on Islamic law. He did not engage in terrorism. Yet he and his followers took over Iran – a feat far greater than bin Laden ever achieved. In Iran the violence came later.”
In reality, however, ‘doctrine’ alone was not the reason behind the brutal Islamic movement’s rise to political power. In Iran, for example, the rise of Islamism was aided by the US-led foreign policy of creating a green or Islamic belt around the then Soviet Union during the Cold War. At a conference in Guadeloupe, Western powers decided to back Islamism at the expense of a left-leaning revolution that was crushed in order for the Islamic Republic of Iran to establish itself. In fact, to secure power, the regime slaughtered an entire generation. As a result, we have witnessed the rise of the political Islamic movement for several decades.
At the same time, though, today, there are more fundamental political realities working against Islamism which must also be recognised. Calling it a ‘Black Spring’ does a great disservice to the revolutionary people of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya… who have risen against dictatorship – many of them US-backed. These immense human developments have had a positive effect on many things. Firstly, it has shown how it is still possible for people under the boot of dictatorship, Islamism and US-led militarism to come out on the streets and revolt and that in fact revolution is the most civilised form of resistance against oppression and violence. The Arab Spring has proven the anti-revolution and pro-status quo theoreticians and manufacturers of public opinion wrong. You can’t call it a Black Spring when youth have played a role in their future and people have freed themselves from captivity and put dictators on the run.
Those of us who have battled against Islamism for decades know full well the role of Western foreign policy in encouraging this regressive movement and bringing it to centre stage. And we have also seen the many years of appeasement and cooperation with the Islamists at the expense of the people in the region. Western governments continue to remain silent in the face of human rights catastrophes and to defend dialogue and cooperation with criminals.
Another one of the obstacles in our struggle against Islamism has been the racist social policy of cultural relativism or multi-culturalism. According to this policy, the people are homogeneous, are all Muslims and therefore pro-Islamist; they only deserve the rule of the Talibans and Ahmadinejads since ‘their culture’ is different from ‘ours,’ making it easy for governments to invest and make profits whilst ignoring the terrorism and heinous crimes against the people of the region (as long as it doesn’t go outside its sphere of influence). With the advent of the Arab Spring, multiculturalism and cultural relativism are dead. Today its proponents can no longer sell the lie that the youth and people in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Iran want Islam’s intervention in their lives. This is an important strike against Islamism.
We wholeheartedly welcome this Spring. After all it proves what we have been saying all along. Islamism and dictatorship are not people’s culture and demands. It shows that the people in the region want to live 21st century lives and are willing to pour out onto the streets at great risk to themselves to fight for a new dawn.
Whilst we must clearly stand vigilant against the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamism, rather than dooming the revolutionary movements to failure, we must recognise and unequivocally defend them, help them expand and gain depth, and instead emphasise their modern and human dimensions which are diametrically opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamism. We must help mobilise support and solidarity for a secular, modern and human Middle East and North Africa.
This is our historical task.