Don’t Blame Arab Spring Democracies
Thursday September 20 2012 22:27:50 PM BDT
By Saeed Qureshi
The European countries and more specifically the United States should not hasten to disavow or discredit the newly established democratic governments in the Middle East for their inability to stem the huge protests mounted against the anti-Islam provocative video.
The United States and other countries, as the catalysts and supporters of the momentous Arab spring that dismantled the trenchant oppressive dictatorships, should not rush to draw the conclusions that the new establishments failed to stop the agitations and protests, which spontaneously erupted due to the denigration of their most beloved prophet Muhammad.
They should realize that these newly born democracies are nascent and currently unstable for the obvious reason that need time to move to the stage of stability and good governance. This is certainly a transitional period and is understandably murky because there can never be a switch off and switch one shift between the two contrasting systems.
The Arab oligarchies either one man rule or family dynasties, were ruthless and oppressive. In those regimes asking for human rights and civil liberties was treated as crime, sin or anathema by the rulers.
These new democratically elected regimes are still shaky and therefore, do not deserve to be accused of being incompetent or insincere in combating and controlling the mass movements in these countries triggered by extremely sensitive religious issue for the aggrieved Muslims.
Arab Spring that has come to be known as symbol of overthrow of the despotism and ushering of the people’s rule is still in its infancy. To expect it of producing miracles so soon would be an irrational and myopic tendency. As a matter of fact these regimes did not expect or forebode such a colossal upheaval.
Secondly the institutions and the administrative network have yet to be strong as to effectively deal with such unusual situations and unforeseen crisis. To allege that they were accomplice in fomenting protests is a farfetched conjecture and is not borne out by the ground realities.
But more significantly, imperative is to comprehend is that they cannot brutally suppress the crowds that swelled across the cities to register their anger and protest for an act that was most reprehensible and mala-fide. They however did their best to disperse the mammoth crowds.
The ideological friction and debate between the religions have been there for centuries and would continue as such. But in this age of enlightenment, the religious bigotry and prejudices should be cast away. We need a genre of pluralism and a culture of cohabitation. There should be an across-the-board liberty and freedom for all religions, denominations and sub sects to exist and practice their religious traditions without any let and hindrance.
But extremists are there in every society. If in other religions, there an extremists and adversaries of Islam and of prophet Muhammad, the most respected human after god for Muslims; there are also fanatics within the fold Islam as we have witnessed them in these protests.
If according to a proverb that “the worst democracy is better than the best dictatorship” then our choice should be the newly established democratic regimes. The blame game is always easy to spur but evidently these governments in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and elsewhere have done their best to contain the mushrooming and surging agitations and they did succeed in that endeavor.
Moreover, these governments have given all possible assurances to extend all help and cooperation to the United States to find out the assailants that ransacked the US embassy in Libya. The Libyan government has moved fast to identify and arrest the killers of the American ambassador and other staff members in Benghazi. The matter of the fact is that the outburst was sudden and spontaneous and could not be preempted, predicted or forewarned even by the best of pundits and soothsayers.
Because of these sporadic flare-ups, if the Arab spring fledgling democracies are not given enough time to consolidate and take roots then it would be tantamount to paving way for the religious radicals and the agents of the former tyrannical regimes to take over. Which option is better to choose? Obviously it is to sustain and beef up the new democracies to grow up and strengthen. It would be a colossal betrayal to the unprecedented cause of the new democratic order that is akin to the spectacular French revolution that liberalized and unchained the humanity from abominable shackles of feudalism, monarchy and rigid papacy.
The knee-jerk and whimsical chastising of the popular dispensations in the riot-ridden countries would be tantamount to renouncing democracy and going back to the era of tyrants. It is for the United States and Europe that spearheaded the historic movement of Arab spring to decide if the throwback to dictatorship is preferable or to strengthen these new democratic regimes.
On the contrary the march and sway of Arab Spring should be enlarged towards the other regimes in the Middle East that are still family dynasties or ruled by the brutal autocrats and merciless dictators. A piecemeal and selective plantation of democracy in the Middle East looks hypocritical and a half-realized dream aimed at giving power to the people of those countries. Even otherwise the people have awakened and finally would elbow out the remnants and upholders of the old tyrannical orders. The age of human rights, equality, democracy and people’s rule has already dawned and it cannot be reversed though it may be delayed.
The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.
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