Friday, February 4, 2011

Protests in Egypt.

For the last 10 days I am following news on protests in Egypt which eventually brought down Mubarak (it is not entirely clear) and also exchanged some views with Indians via comments at the end of news reports. Some supported the protests against Govt. of Mubarak and some even wished that Indians also protest against corruption. And some suggested that if these protests spread to Saudi Arabia and topple existing Govt. then funds will stop flowing to terrorist organizations. Then I came across a blogger writing on these protests under the title ' i like my freedom '. I am not sure where the blogger stands, but from a news article she referred to I feel that she thinks Egyptians are fighting for their freedom.

It is crystal clear that most people after being fed by main stream media, which itself is influenced by leftist philosophy and guided by political correctness, think that one of the reasons for every thing that is wrong in middle east (Arab World) is lack of democracy and existing dictator ships. Other cited reason is interests of USA.

Egypt is the most important and populous Arab country in the world. At present it is plagued by corruption, poverty and unemployment and also election rigging; these have been cited as reasons for present uprising. But for a society which has total fertility rate well over 3 for long period (even today), no economic theory can solve the problems like poverty and unemployment. One might be tempted to ask why didn't govt. encourage family planning and adopt population control measures? I am not sure of whether it did or did not; but family planning is considered to be against teachings of Islam. When its main adversary is Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic outfit, it is unlikely that Govt. can afford to show itself as un-Islamic.

By any measure, Govt. of Mubarak is dictatorial and did not tolerate opposition to its rule; freedom of expression is also limited if not wholly curtailed. People say that it is under emergency for past 30 years but it has inherited problem of Islamic terrorism from previous President Anwar Sadaat, who was its victim just because he signed peace treaty with Israel. Though I do not believe in compatibility of Islam and secularism, Mubarak effectively removed all secular and  liberal opposition parties and left Muslim Brotherhood as his sole adversary. Many commentators said this ploy is deliberate because it leaves west with no other choice but to support Mubarak in trying to stop Islamists from gaining power.

One of his biggest mistakes might be that he started promoting his son as his successor as this hereditary ambition was also cited as one of reasons for uprising. Finally, the one crucial factor in his downfall is Muslim Obama who backed even fascist Muslim brotherhood.

In addition to these reasons for uprising against Mubarak, there is one other reason many of the protesters have i.e. they think Mubarak is puppet of America and US is puppet of Israel which they want to destroy it; they say that after removing Mubarak thus, gaining freedom they will do it. Much of media tried to portray like these protests have nothing to do with USA and Israel and represent genuine democratic aspirations. Like always, the ground reality is far removed from what media says as following links suggest: (here, here). Some American journalists like Ms. Amanpour and Mr. Cooper are even attacked by mobs chanting usual slogan 'Death To America': (here, here). No one can ever tell on what basis media reaches conclusions but these reports along with many others do not matter in their enlightening conclusions.

In one area where Mubarak should be honored is his acceptance of and abiding by peace treaty with Israel; but this did not stop anti semitism in Egypt as it can be seen from programs aired by state owned Egyptian channels (one can see some videos in video page). Regarding the peace treaty with Israel, cynics might attribute Mubarak honoring treaty to superiority of Israeli defense forces but his crackdown on Hamas, which vowed to destroy Israel, gives another picture.

Coming to India, one can draw the similarities between situations in Egypt and India, but I personally feel that India is much worse. Corruption, poverty, election rigging and hereditary politics are some commonalities. Even supposed freedom of expression in India is just a farce. Caste and communal politics simply undo the benefits of independent judiciary which recently came under attack from this present 'lady ceasar' and also make protesting against any govt. very difficult. Most important thing is English Media has hijacked the whole nation and it is miserably corrupt. Appointment of Naveen Chawla as chief election commissioner despite his less than clean and decent record and subsequent media's silence are just one example of extent of media's corruption and intellectual dishonesty. Another one is media's silence in appointment of C.V.Thomas as CVC despite BJP pointing to his record of corruption. People came to know about this whole incident because Supreme Court took up this matter; not because media did its duty; no, actually it has abandoned. So called free and responsible media in India is just a myth. Just like blogger in the post ' i like my freedom ' wonderfully said:
"Its not surprising that fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech, cultural and educational rights etc are taken for granted in our country. That is because most of us have spent our entire lives in a democratic nation and rights such as the ones mentioned above are inherently part of the nation’s psyche. We do not realize how important they are because we have never lived without them."
But in Indis's case, it may be too late by the time many feel their basic rights taken away and when Indians realize what went wrong if at all they ever are able to sense dangers and what was wrong.  Indians looking at protests in Egypt and wishing they could take place here is testimony to frustration and even hopelessness they do feel and even may be that they do not see any way out of present day morass.

No civilization's future is certain but nonchalance and indifference on part of its adherents do accelerate civilization's decay and its ultimate disappearance giving way to barbarians. It is very likely that India suffers cataclysmic changes. In the past it has survived invasions and cruelties of barbarians; in this regard, I will just quote two people and what they said:
Alain Danielou in Histoire de la Inde: "From the time Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, the history of India becomes a long, monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoilations, destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of 'a holy war' of their faith, of their sole God, that the barbarians have destroyed civilisations, wiped out entire races." 
American historian Will Durant in The Story of Civilization: "...the Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex order and freedom can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without and multiplying from within."
But will it survive present day politicians and media? I have my doubts. So if people recognize and realize their rights and how important they are, it behooves that they fight for safeguarding them besides enjoying. Overall, comparison with Egypt is the result of clueless-ness about Egypt and Islam.

Now what is it that people in Egypt have protested for? Media portrayed this revolt as struggle for democracy and freedom and even secularism. But the way Muslims in Egypt understand democracy and freedom is completely different from how we understand these concepts. Freedom for many  Muslims in Egypt means freedom to submission to Allah's law as it exists in Koran i.e. Sharia law. Democracy means electing a Govt. which enforces this sharia law. Iran is the perfect example of these Islamic definitions. It holds elections to elect people who enforce Islamic law.

To see the Egyptians attitude towards democracy and role of Islam in Govt., lets take a look at what pew opinion polls said (full report on report on these opinion polls here): 48% of Egyptians say that Islam plays big role in present day Govt.'s policies. 85% percent of Muslims want Islam to play a major role in ( or Islamic influence over) Govt.'s policies. About 80% of Muslims in Egypt support sharia punishments like stoning to death for adultery, amputations and flogging for theft and robbery and want these to be a part of their law. In all only 59% of Muslims in Egypt support democracy. 50% of Egyptians support Hamas, armed (or militant) wing of Muslim Brotherhood. Similarly 80% of Muslims in Egypt support death penalty for Muslims leaving Islam. Ultimately, for Muslim in Egypt, present day persecution of 10 million Coptic Christians is not sufficiently Islamic and they want more like Sharia. So the reasons of democracy and secularism and freedom for praising these protests are just hollow except the fact that Egyptians have right to choose their own destiny.

Will sharia and democracy go together? Democracy as the way we infidels understand is incompatible with sharia. Muslims believing sharia and democracy can be combined is unrealistic even if one accepts notion of Islamic democracy because it soon by its own weight mutates in to Islamic theocracy. Further, with such opinions prevailing (as pew poll has shown), it will not be difficult for Muslims Brotherhood to win any election but also to impose its complete totalitarian ideology on Egypt like it happened in Iran. Like Nonie Darwish said, "The choice for Egyptians is not between good and bad; it is between bad and worse".

Here, there are many similarities between revolution in Iran(shia sect) and uprising in Egypt(sunni sect) despite differences in their Islamic theologies in these countries. Both the uprisings have started as secular and overwhelming participants are young. The opposition is divided in both the cases and most organized and largest being Islamic parties. In both the cases Islamic parties have talked of some compromise with secular parties (Muslim Brotherhood is in talks with secular opposition).

In Iran, during the years 1978-79, The leader of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, prior to and during protests, talked about democracy and freedom before returning home from exile and his first government was dominated by liberal figures. Some of his statements are (source):
The Islamic regime does not have oppression. (In an interview with France Press news agency, Paris, October 25, 1978)
In Iran's Islamic government the media have the freedom to express all Iran's realities and events, and people have the freedom to form any form of political parties and gatherings that they like. (In an interview with the Italian newspaper Paese Sera, Paris, November 2, 1978)
Our future society will be a free society, and all the elements of oppression, cruelty, and force will be destroyed. (In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, Paris, November 7, 1978)
In Iran's future Islamic system everyone can express their opinion, and the Islamic government will respond to logic with logic. (In an  interview with international reporters, Paris, November 9, 1978)
In the Islamic government all people have complete freedom to have any kind of opinion. (In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Paris, November 10, 1978)
The foundation of our Islamic government is based on freedom of dialogue and will fight against any kind of censorship." (In an interview with Reuters news agency, Paris, October 26, 1978)
In the Islamic Republic the rights of the religious minorities are respectfully regarded. (In an interview with an Austrian TV reporter, Paris, November 6, 1978)
But as Islamists under him gained power, they did away with other political parties and Khomeini's rhetoric changed substantially in the nature and most Iranians were astonished when the ayatollah later announced that he was going to establish a theocratic state. When he faced opposition, this is what he said with respect to people opposing him:
Don't listen to those who speak of democracy. They all are against Islam. They want to take the nation away from its mission. We will break all the poison pens of those who speak of nationalism, democracy, and such things. --- (In a meeting with Iranian students and educators, Qom (3), March 13, 1979)
Those who are trying to bring corruption and destruction to our country in the name of democracy will be oppressed. They are worse than Bani-Ghorizeh (4) Jews, and they must be hanged. We will oppress them by God's order and God's call to prayer. -- (In a talk at the Fayzieah School, Qom, August 30, 1979)
That group that due to its opposition to Islam is opposing us, with the same fist that we destroyed the regime we will destroy that group as well. Pay attention to your statements. Repent from your writings. I am warning you that you still have time to repent. ---- (In a talk at the Fayzieah School, Qom, June 5, 1979)
The intellectuals, the writers, those who have information and thoughts, you see some of them take their pens and in the name of democracy they write whatever they want and they cause disagreements. This group of so-called intellectuals has to correct themselves. Whatever we are suffering is from this group of intellectuals and judges. What we are suffering is because of them. ---- (In a talk in Qom, July 23, 1979). (He even threatens these writers latter.)
Those who create political fronts must stop their activities. If from the beginning, as in other revolutions in the world, several thousand of these corrupt individuals had been burned and beheaded till the issues were finished, problems would have been solved. We will allow one or more parties to operate if they operate correctly. But we announce that the rest are forbidden. We will no longer allow the same freedom that we used to give, and we cannot allow these parties to continue their activities. According to religious law, we can't give them a grace period. Canonically, it is not correct to give a grace period. We made mistakes when we gave freedom; we can't treat these wild animals gently. We will no longer allow any of their writings to be distributed in the country. We will destroy all their writings. We have to deal with them harshly, and we will deal with them harshly. ---- (In a meeting with selected Members of Congress, Qom, August 18, 1979)
Those who are against us are like cancer tumors that need to be removed surgically; otherwise they will corrupt everything.These writings, these speeches, these wrong activities, these democratic programs are separations from Islam. All these voices are blasphemy and are atheistic." -- (in a talk to the Representatives from Tabriz, Qom, September 19, 1979)
In the year 1988, as the war with Iraq ended, Khomeini simply ordered the mass execution of all political opponents who were imprisoned with the charge that they are apostates (here); some estimates put the number of people who were executed at 30,000.

Hossein-Ali Montazeri was one of Grand Ayatollahs on Iran and he was a leading figure in the Islamic revolution of 1979. He was projected as successor to Khomeini. But when he opposed Khomeini's fatwa of executing political rivals, Khomeini simply has chosen present supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, as his successor in Montazeri's place. It is from the memoirs of Montazeri that actual picture of what really happened in the year 1988 has emerged. Telegraph publishes:
CHILDREN as young as 13 were hanged from cranes, six at a time, in a barbaric two-month purge of Iran's prisons on the direct orders of Ayatollah Khomeini, according to a new book by his former deputy.
More than 30,000 political prisoners were executed in the 1988 massacre - a far larger number than previously suspected. Secret documents smuggled out of Iran reveal that, because of the large numbers of necks to be broken, prisoners were loaded onto forklift trucks in groups of six and hanged from cranes in half-hourly intervals.
Gruesome details are contained in the memoirs of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, The Memoirs of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, one of the founders of the Islamic regime. He was once considered Khomeini's anointed successor, but was deposed for his outspokenness, and is now under house arrest in the holy city of Qom.
Published privately last month after attempts by the regime to suppress it, the revelations have prompted demands from Iranian exiles for those involved to be tried for crimes against humanity. The most damning of the letters and documents published in the book is Khomeini's fatwa decree calling for all Mojahedin (as opponents of the Iranian regime are known) to be killed.
Issued shortly after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in July 1988 and an incursion into western Iran by the Iranian resistance, the fatwa reads: "It is decreed that those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the Monafeqin (Mojahedin) are waging war on God and are condemned to execution."....
One can also read on this purge from here.

Finally, Iran with its oil and gas resources might have survived Islamic theocracy but Egypt lacking these resources will face more uncertainties and more darker future. At present, Muslims will continue to believe in supremacy of 7th century barbaric law because their needs were met in the form of aid or revenue from oil. And finally, the situation in middle east will continue to be fluid whether these protests bring democracy or not.

No comments: