The Arab Spring Turned Into Arab Winter

A false secularism led the dictatorships in the Arab world. Now, advocates of democracy face a tough call: Should they support dark regimes to prevent the rise of the fanatics?

Saja Abu Fanni
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Saja Abu Fanni

If we are to judge by the signs outside, winter has arrived. These are the laws of nature: After spring comes summer, and after summer comes fall, and then winter. Everything is temporary, everything is fleeting.

It is worth bearing this in mind when we reflect on the aftermath of the Arab spring. There is no point getting bogged down in any particular season as if it were eternity. There's nothing eternal except change, and that includes the change of seasons. This is the power of nature and the secret of its magic.

The legendary Steve Jobs said that death is the source of renewal.

But if we are starting over, let it at least be an upgraded beginning.That's presumably what Heraclitus meant when he said that one never crosses the same river twice.

For the most part, it was the secular movements that led the dictatorships in the Arab world. But it was a false secularism. In the regime of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the secularists were oppressed. The censor banned modern movies and books in keeping with the tastes of the last of the extremists. The secular Syria forged an alliance with the fanatic regime in Iran.

That's how secularism fell victim to its most distorted form. This secularism was crowned with the title of "dictatorship," and later with the title "corrupt," and last but not least, "monarchic."

The left preferred to postpone the struggle for democracy and integrity until the Israeli and American occupation would end. But what's absurd is that corrupt dictatorships are the allies of the occupation. Thus the courageous among the secularists were subjugated, and the opportunists fell into line. The Communist party in Syria, for example, is a branch of the ruling Baath party. The Islamic movements have reaped the benefits only because they succeeded in surviving and even grew stronger, since their activities in the mosques could not be prevented.

Advocates of democracy face a tough call: Should they support dark regimes to prevent the rise of the fanatics? On the other hand, can we ask those whose sons are rotting in prison or are being slaughtered in the squares to wait? The people want to smash the mechanism of oppression, and they won't wait for left-wing organizations that promote democracy to finish their important consultations.

But what was will not be again. The Islamic movements are no longer the movements of yesterday. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has proven quite adaptable. It is already maintaining a dialogue with the Great Satan (the United States ) and will yet drive opportunism to new heights.

The Islamists in Tunisia and Morocco are now renouncing the Sharia state. One of the female candidates of the Islamic party in Tunisia has appeared without a headcovering. These movements know that the wave of liberation that led them to power was generated by secularists, and they must behave appropriately.

Perhaps the laws of nature break down at the entrance to the Arab states. We, the Arabs, are used to dark forces oppressing our people. Just don't let this oppression bear the stamp of secularism.

If you ask me which side I prefer to be on, without hesitation I will respond that I want to be on the side of the fighting oppressed. I will choose my humanity.

The anger at the fanatic regimes that are in power in Iran and Gaza are so great that only their brutal oppression of the people keeps them in power. Their season is over. They are living on borrowed time.

And even if winter has started, Tahrir's spring is still flourishing and bringing down dictatorships.

Read this article in Hebrew.



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