Written on: 21. 12. 2011 in the category: news

Come back in a year and tell me about Arab Spring

It was clever of Vaclav Havel to die almost on the first anniversary of the self-immolation by Mohamed Bouazizi. The latter’s death was hailed throughout the western liberal media as the dawn of a new age; so let us now celebrate a full year of self-deceit and delusion.

That idiotic term “the Arab Spring” in itself defines the historical ignorance that underwrites this myth. After all, the Prague Spring was deeply non-violent: it was crushed by tanks, but even the Soviets were careful to avoid taking human life. The spring formally ended with the self-immolation of a young student, Jan Palach, an event which appalled many Czechs, because it was the very refutation of the principles of non-violence, emotional continence and stoic endurance of the anti-Stalinist movement in Prague.

Just about everything that has happened in the Arab world in the past year has been the very reverse of that; quite literally so, for it began with a suicide. We should hesitate to analyse why anyone takes his own life, but nonetheless, in Bouazizi’s case it seems to have been because he had been issued a fine by a woman police officer. Yes, it was her sex which so outraged him. And only by imposing the sunny and cheerful dogmas of western liberalism upon the events that have since swept the Arab world could anyone conclude that the outcome has been spring-like. In reality, what we are seeing — as the elections in Tunisia and Egypt have shown — is the emergence of democratically-mandated Islamism. Yes, you can call that spring, as women disappear behind the burka, and imams become judges, and alcohol is banned, and jihad takes its place on the university-syllabus; but by western standards, this is like confusing the Arctic with the Equator.

Yet despite all the evidence of the past terrible year, in which many thousands of people have been killed, some observers are even linking the events in Tahrir Square in Cairo, and in Tunisia, with the anti-capitalist demonstrations in the US. ‘Time’ magazine made ‘The Protester’ the ‘Person of the Year’. How blind must you be for that? Not merely is Bouazizi’s distress at being fined by a mere woman now forgotten. So too is the fate of the American woman television reporter who was isolated in Tahrir Square and for 20 minutes was stripped and sexually assaulted by “protesters”. The nadir was reached with the murder in custody of Gaddafi and his son by another group of “protesters”. Watch now, as the Libyan liberals who rejoiced at the overthrow of Gaddafi face a foe far more terrible than that clown ever was.

You shouldn’t need to be a student of history to know that what we have seen across the Arab world is not in any sense like Prague, and it is certainly not spring. Comparisons are always odious, but none more so than that that results from imposing the standards of the culture that gave us ‘The good soldier Schweik’ upon a culture that has enriched the languages of the world with the words, shariah, burka, fatwa, jihad and istishhad (“martyrdom-suicides”).

Yet naivety still triumphs. Listen to the optimistic words of Ganzeer, an Egyptian street-artist and protester, who was quoted thus: “Demonstrations, strikes, and other forms of protest carry on regardless because today’s revolution, unlike revolutions of the past, is leaderless.”

Human nature is human nature, and humans do not remain leaderless for long. The storming of the Bastille was leaderless: the glories of Robespierre’s leadership, of the guillotine, and the Terror, were just around the corner. The tsar was overthrown by a popular and leaderless movement: Lenin was soon on his way to the Finland station, with seven wonderful decades of communism ahead. And the anti-Shah riots in Iran in 1979 appeared to be leaderless too: they heralded three decades of Islamic law, a paradise in which “adulteresses” are regularly hoisted up on mobile cranes, and slowly strangled. Comparisons are odious, yes: but nonetheless …

Nearly nine years after the invasion of Iraq, the theory that western-style democracy could be successfully transferred to the Middle East has been tested to destruction. No Arab country has the law-abiding middle-class that will dutifully follow the edict of a democratically elected government. Arab societies are usually divided by family, clan, sept, sect and tribe, and in such complex fissures as to prevent simple adherence to the state. And in all Arab countries, their Christian communities are now increasingly under physical threat.

The Copts of Egypt rather liked Mubarak; he protected them. Who will mind them under a government of the Muslim Brotherhood? And will peace with Israel survive a pan-Arab Islamic resurgence?

The myths of the Arab Spring even infected the Nobel awards; the joint peace-prize went to Tawakkol Karman, for her role in the “pro-democracy” movement in Yemen. Yet her party is the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. How long before its fundamentalism consumes her and all the hopes and dreams of women in Yemen, a country where 25pc of girls still undergo the evil of genital-mutilation?

Come back to me in a year’s time, and tell me all about the Arab Spring.