Tunisia is bracing itself for the second open and free elections since its revolution and the toppling of its dictator in January 2011. While the rest of the Arab spring countries – Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen – have slid either into chaos and civil strife or back into the bleak and brutal era of military coups, Tunisia seems to have withstood the powerful storms raging around it and will elect a representative parliament on Sunday.
The country has adopted a modern democratic constitution that won the approval of 93% of its diverse political parties. It is the most progressive constitution in the Arab region, enshrining women’s rights, freedom of belief, conscience, and worship, and banning incitement to violence and religious excommunication.… Seguir leyendo »
Had the army not pulled the rug from under Mubarak's feet, siding with protesters in Tahrir Square, the story of Egypt's revolution might have resembled those of Syria, Yemen and even Libya, more closely. A bitter confrontation would have cost hundreds, if not thousands, of lives, significantly delaying the old president's fall. The chant that reverberated around Egypt's squares in the early post-Mubarak days, as euphoric Egyptians embraced soldiers, was "The people and the army are one hand". This was not only the people's revolution, but the army's too. But it is now clear that the army does not perceive itself as a partner in the revolution, but as its representative and guardian: the sole bearer of its legitimacy.… Seguir leyendo »
Thirty years ago the world awoke to a great volcanic eruption in Iran that transformed the country's face and sent tremors across the globe. A mass movement of popular protest had succeeded in doing what few had thought possible. The Shah's heavily fortified regime was no more - a mere chapter in the country's long past.
For all the religious euphoria that has marked the revolution, its root causes are in reality more sociopolitical than theological. After all, theology cannot create revolution if its conditions are not seething in society's gut and within its political forces. The vast wells of popular anger that erupted at the end of the 1970s were fed by grievances that had been building for years.… Seguir leyendo »
Pick up any newspaper today in Britain or elsewhere in Europe, switch on the TV or tune in to any radio station, and you're very likely to get the impression that "our societies" - if not western civilisation in its entirety - face an imminent Islamic threat, on a par with the old dangers of fascism. Since the terrorist bombings of New York, Madrid and London, the "fundamentalist peril" has become part of the air we breathe. It has become a rhetorical crutch for everyone from rightwing bigots to opportunistic politicians and repenting "former extremists", each with their own agenda.
Today we live amid an explosion of discourse and imagery around Islam and Muslims.… Seguir leyendo »