The developments in Tunisia and
Egypt are indeed breath taking. No one expected such explosive
developments in these countries so all of a sudden. But those who
keep an eye on the ground situation may not be surprised. There
are scholars and analysts who always debunked Islam as
anti-democratic and supportive of dictatorial regimes whereas fact
is that it is western regimes who supported dictators in the
Islamic world for their own interests.
Today when common people are on the
streets wanting dictators like Hosni Mubarak to go, these regimes
are shaking in their boots. Now Israeli authorities want to
prevent democracy in Egypt as democracy, according to them, would
mean Brotherhood coming to power. Earlier in Palestine when Hamas
came to power through democratic elections, America and Israel
refused to recognize elected Hamas Government. So much for
democracy Israel and US talk about.
No religion is for or against democracy as religion mainly deals
with moral, ethical and spiritual issues and eschatological
problems. If anyone weds religion to politics, it is not to serve
any religious but for political interests. It is certainly not a
Qur’anic doctrine that politics and religion cannot be separated.
That was historical and not doctrinal issue. Islam is as much for
democracy as any religion. It is nothing but anti-Islamic
propaganda that western politicians and media indulges in.
And whenever there are good prospects for democracy in any Islamic
country the US rushes in to support dictatorships from Indonesia
to the Arab world and then blames Islam for being anti-democratic.
Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship was supported by USA and Israel in
their own interest and what is worse Israel’s interest is US
interest. Today when Obama realized that Hosni Mubarak has totally
lost support he is advising him to go to keep its credibility with
the people of Egypt. But it will also see that someone is
installed who acts in US-Israel interests.
It would be very difficult to find legitimacy for a person who,
like Mubarak, is ready to become lackey of US and Israel. It is a
new wave in the Arab world. A handful of people led by Osama tried
to retaliate against US-Israel violence with violence of their own
and saw its disastrous consequences. The Arab youth has realized
that violence may not be the answer and that peaceful democratic
struggle is far more important for real change than violent
Many Arab rulers are also shaking in their boots. The Yemeni
President Ali Abu Saleh has already announced that he may not run
again for presidency after 2013 when his term expires. So far
there is one thing in common for the three countries i.e. Tunis,
Egypt and the Yemen: all three countries are poor and backward and
have large number of frustrated unemployed youth. This peaceful
uprising of the people may not immediately spread to oil rich Arab
countries as the youth do not experience problems as they do in
Tunis and Egypt or the Yemen.
Though the economic grievances may not be here in oil rich
countries but recent developments, particularly in Egypt are bound
to have deep impact on political culture of oil rich countries
too. It may take time but will, sooner or later, bound to
influence political developments in entire Arab world. All these
countries have dictatorship supported by the USA.
The rulers of this region are totally dependent on US support and
the US uses them for its own and Israeli interests and that is why
the entire Arab world remains silent spectator to developments in
the Palestine and inhuman behaviour of Israel against the
Palestinians. They dare not to speak out. This is deeply resented
by the common people in the region but for lack of democratic
freedoms, they feel helpless. They cannot even protest as any
protest invites heavy repression. Hosni Mubarak had his own
What makes these rulers, kings, sheikhs and dictators unpopular is
the core question of Palestine. Being dependent on America these
rulers endorse, although silently, American support to Israel and
this is deeply resented by the Arab peoples. The revolt in Cairo
is, as of now, not directed at the Palestinian question. It is
more about dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak and his high handed
But built in this resentment is the question of Gaza and the way
Mubarak regime has helped Israel implement its policy of throwing
siege around Gaza and making lives of Palestinians impossible.
Also, it is important to note that there is no leader of this
people’s uprising. No single leader has given call and no
charismatic personality has come to the fore to direct the people
for totally peaceful protest.
And yet the protest has remained peaceful and has shown exemplary
discipline. Yes, there have been few instances of violence,
burning and looting but in such a massive demonstration there is
bound to be few such instances. It is purely people’s initiative.
It is indeed very important development. A country which has not
witnessed democracy during several decades for people to remain so
disciplined in their protest, is really amazing. Even in highly
developed democracies peaceful protests degenerate into violent
This again clearly shows that there is a great capability among
Arab masses for democratic discipline and also shows that Muslims
are not averse to democratic ethos, as so often alleged by western
political propagandists. If there is no external support to these
dictators democracy and democratic polity will easily develop in
these countries also. There is very close parallel to what
happened in Indonesia. Indonesia was under dictatorship of Suharto
for several decades again thanks to the US support. But when US
support was withdrawn Suharto regime fell and transition to
democracy took place quite smoothly and Indonesia, the biggest
Islamic country in the world is having democracy and smooth
However, there is one difference of course. There is no sensitive
question like that of Palestine and also there is no oil interests
involved. In case of Arab countries dictatorships are crucial for
US as this is far more sensitive region because of oil and Israel.
Oil is highly crucial for industries and auto culture and Israel
is needed to keep Arabs under control.
Thus like in Indonesia, America will not remain neutral as far as
the Middle East is concerned. Here its political and economic
interests are involved. It will try to maneuver to install, if not
a puppet, at least someone who would not severe relations with the
West. Will Baradei fit the bill? May be to an extent. He is not
unknown to America and has been sympathetic to Obama. But now
relationship may not be as simple as that. No new president
installed can afford to endorse American Israeli policy. Only one
who has independent position on Palestinian question can have some
legitimacy in the eyes of Arabs.
So the sustained democratic movement of Egyptian people ultimately
compelled Hosni Mubarak to quit and flee to his ancestral place
Sharm-al-Sheikh. He resisted for three long weeks but people
refused to accept him any longer and asked him to quit, the only
acceptable condition to withdraw. The people of Egypt have
conclusively shown that they love democracy and non-violence and
succeeded in bringing change non-violently. Though there was no
leader and guide of Mahatma Gandhi’s stature to show them the way,
yet masses found their own way which was peaceful and non-violent.
This behaviour of Egyptian people has broken two myths: that
Muslims do not love democracy and that they are violent people.
Here is the unique case that masses of Egypt spontaneously
demonstrated in thousands very peacefully and sustained their
movement for three long weeks without any charismatic leader.
Muslims as much want democratic change peacefully as other people
of the world.
Also, the Egyptian people have shown way to peoples of various
Arab countries like the Yemen, Algeria, Jordan and others how to
overthrow corrupt dictators who have ruled over them for decades
with the support of US oil interests. Egypt was very crucial among
them. The oil rich countries may not feel the impact immediately
but time is not far off when they will also be shaken. In fact one
of the Saudi princes has warned the Saudi rulers that they should
pack up sooner than later.
Nothing can hold back the surge of people in Middle East. Also
time has come for Palestinians to liberate themselves. Israel is
also shaking. Two events the Turkish Flotila which went to supply
essential commodities to Gaza and on which Israel made crucial
mistake to fire, and the Egyptian revolution have done for
Palestinian cause what their fight could not do for decades. This
also shows that peaceful methods of fighting can do in short time
what violence cannot achieve even after decades. Bravo for
peaceful and non-violent agitation.